- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee says the State Department’s declaration that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China is “regrettable,” but recent moves on behalf of Beijing prompted the decision.

In an annual congressionally-mandated update regarding Hong Kong’s autonomy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo concluded that the city no longer has the autonomy and freedom that China’s communist government promised that it would tolerate when Great Britain gave the territory back to Beijing back in 1997.

“The State Department’s certification that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous is regrettable, but the Chinese Communist Party left us no choice,” Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, said Wednesday.

“We must acknowledge the reality on the ground. And unfortunately, the reality is that the CCP relentlessly undermines Hong Kongers’ freedoms and way of life and impinges on the autonomy they were promised,” the ranking member continued.

His comments come amid ongoing street protests in Hong Kong over a proposed national security law that pro-democracy activists in the territory fear will allow Chinese authorities to jail them purely for exercising free speech.

“While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself,” Mr. Pompeo said in a Wednesday statement announcing the development.

“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China.”

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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