What could losing US ‘special status’ mean for Hong Kong?
Hong Kong: Washington’s declaration this week that Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous from China was a historic moment with potentially far-reaching consequences for the finance hub — though much depends on President Donald Trump.
The revocation of special status could radically rearrange the fortunes of a city that has served for decades as the global economic gateway to China.
On Friday, Trump vowed to strip the city of certain trade privileges, saying Beijing’s plan to impose a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous city was a “tragedy”.
But he was light on specifics and the declaration could end up being little more than symbolic.
- What is Hong Kong’s special status? –
In the run-up to Britain returning Hong Kong to China in 1997, a “one country, two systems” deal was forged to allow the city to maintain certain freedoms and autonomy for 50 years.
Those liberties included a free market economy, an independent judiciary, free speech and legislative autonomy.
As a result, many countries, including the United States, brought in laws that allowed them to treat Hong Kong as a separate trade entity to the authoritarian and economically restrictive mainland.
The arrangement allowed Hong Kong to flourish into a world-class financial centre on a par with London and New York.
Reciprocal visa-free travel deals, a dollar-pegged currency, the world’s fourth-largest stock exchange as well as business-friendly laws, taxes and legal protections greased the wheels of commerce.
If Washington opts for hardline measures it would risk “all of the financial connectivity that China has to the free market”, according to Robert Spalding, a US-China expert at the Hudson Institute.
“Once that goes away, stocks, bonds, financial transactions, SWIFT, all of that is imperilled,” he told Bloomberg News. – AFP