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President Trump Takes Stance on China, Hong Kong – What Was in the Presidential Announcement

On Friday, May 29, President Trump announced several actions related to China and Hong Kong. The President’s delivered remarks and what was left unsaid were equally instructive. While we are still waiting on details for some of these actions, below is an overview of the President’s announcement.

  • The United States will be “terminating” its relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to “other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”

  • The President has directed his administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong its current special status.  As part of this action, the President noted:

    • It will affect “the full range of agreements [the United States has] with Hong Kong, from our extradition treaty to our export controls…with few exceptions;”

    • The State Department will also revise its travel advisory for Hong Kong “to reflect the increased danger of surveillance and punishment by the Chinese state security apparatus;” and

    • It will include action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory.

  • The United States will take steps to sanction Hong Kong and Chinese officials that were “directly or indirectly involved in eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy…and freedom.”

  • He will issue a proclamation “to better secure our nation’s vital university research” and to suspend entry into the United States of certain Chinese foreign nationals that have been identified as national security risks.  The text of the proclamation can be found here.

  • He is instructing the Presidential Working Group on Financial Markets “to study the differing practices of Chinese companies listed on the U.S. financial markets, with the goal of protecting American investors.”

The President was speaking off a teleprompter and the specific language he used seemed to leave some flexibility for the timing and implementation of many of these measures.

Perhaps more important is what the President did not announce.  The President did not mention the Phase One trade deal he signed with China in January or discuss China’s compliance with the deal.  There is growing skepticism by some that China will be able to meet certain purchasing commitments it made under the deal.  Its absence from Friday’s remarks may signal that the Trump Administration is not yet ready to abandon the agreement altogether.

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 154

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