US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has tweeted that he informed Congress about a change in Hong Kong's status in relation to China.
Today, I reported to Congress that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, given facts on the ground. The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 27, 2020
In a statement on Wednesday, Pompeo said he has certified to Congress that Hong Kong does not warrant the same treatment in accordance with US laws applied to the territory before 1997.
"The State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China," Pompeo said. "After careful study of developments over the reporting period, I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as US laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997."
Last week, US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said that Washington could use sanctions against China if Beijing impinges upon Hong Kong's autonomy.
His remarks came after China's governing Communist Party proposed a bill to ban "separatist, subversive and terrorist activities" along with any form of foreign interference in Hong Kong. The National People's Congress is scheduled to vote on the bill on 28 May.
The initiative provoked a new wave of protests in Hong Kong, with some people expressing their fear that the bill would restrict the administrative region's liberties and undermine Hong Kong's special status within China.