Hong-Kong Using Tit-for-Tat approach for Washington’s Agreement Termination

Hong Kong will suspend an agreement on mutual legal assistance with the United States, China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday. This decision is in a tit-for-tat response to Washington terminating a few agreements with Hong Kong.

The U.S. State Department informed Hong Kong on Wednesday that Washington had terminated or suspended three bilateral agreements with the semi-autonomous city. This happened after China imposed a sweeping national security law.

“Oppressive Actions”

“China urges the U.S. to immediately correct its mistakes,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesman from the foreign ministry told a news briefing on Thursday. He also declared the suspension of the agreement on legal assistance.

The agreement, signed in 1997 before Britain returned Hong Kong to China, explained that the United States and Hong Kong governments would support each other in criminal matters. This included acts such as transferring people in custody or searching and confiscating proceeds of crime.

Earlier, the U.S. State Department said the three agreements the United States ended included “the surrender of fugitive offenders, the transfer of sentenced persons, and reciprocal tax exemptions on income derived from the international operation of ships.”

The U.S. decision came after President Donald Trump’s order last month to terminate Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law to crack down on China for what he called “oppressive actions” against the former British colony.

Trump signed an executive order that he stated would finish the preferential economic treatment for the city after the imposition of the draconian new security law. The national security law punishes anything China considers secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison. This has drawn criticism from Western countries that worry the law will end the freedoms promised when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule.

Beijing and the Hong Kong government have guarded the law. It says it is crucial to restore order and preserve harmony after months of violent anti-government protests last year. Hong Kong has become another testy issue between China and the United States, whose relations were already strained by differences over trade, China’s claims in the South China Sea, and its treatment of its Muslim Uighur minority.

The Ongoing “Tech War”

As the U.S.-China “tech war” deepens, investors are betting on China’s trials to replace U.S. technologies with indigenous applications to operate networks in the state sector.

In recent months, local governments and state firms such as China Telecom have declared plans and procurements. The plans focus on fostering a home-grown tech ecosystem to displace gear from the likes of Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM.

Recently, the Trump administration has strengthened restrictions on China’s Huawei Technologies and sanctioned China-owned apps TikTok and WeChat. Washington also released a “Clean Network” initiative to exclude Chinese tech firms that have been perceived as a threat to national security.

Under U.S. pressure, Chinese vendors are ready to gain local market share, said Jie Lu, Robeco’s China research head.

“China will ramp up the investment and R&D intensity for critical industries such as semiconductors,” Lu said.