23:39 GMT05 July 2020
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    The US has been pressuring China over its plans to introduce legislation that would ban treason and other activities directed at dividing the country on the territory of Hong Kong – a Chinese island that enjoys broad autonomy, including separate laws.

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that the US has introduced restrictions on providing visas to Chinese Communist Party officials over Beijing's alleged efforts to "eviscerate" Hong Kong’s autonomy. Pompeo said that officials, current and former, directly responsible for or complicit in "undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy" or committing human rights violations in the semi-autonomous region will be prohibited from entering the US.

    "President Trump promised to punish the Chinese Communist Party officials who were responsible for eviscerating Hong Kong’s freedoms. Today, we are taking action to do just that", Pompeo said.

    The US official referred to the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which, according to Washington, China is violating. The declaration solidified Beijing's promise to keep Hong Kong autonomous, but the US claims that the National Security Law that was recently introduced by China violates that pledge. The law bans treason and other secessionist activities on the island, which has historically had laws separate from those in mainland China.

    Washington has in the past also condemned China's handling of the protests in Hong Kong, which often turned into violent riots, claiming that Beijing was oppressing "peaceful" protesters. The demonstrations were initially sparked by a piece of legislation that would legalise extraditions to mainland China, but continued for months even after the bill was scrapped for good.

    Chinese authorities have condemned the US attempts to pressure Beijing on its policies in Hong Kong, promising to retaliate if the meddling in its domestic affairs continues. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier in the day that China could abandon purchase of American agricultural products under the "Phase One" deal if it continues to cross "red lines", namely meddling in Hong Kong.


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