Donald Trump has unleashed his most scathing attack on China yet, accusing it of ripping off “the United States like no one has ever done before”.
The US president on Friday (local time) announced the unprecedented action he would be taking in retaliation for a slew of misdeeds he believed had been committed by China.
He accused Beijing of “raiding” US factories and “gutting” US history, as well as “unlawfully claiming territory in the Pacific Ocean” in a move which Mr Trump said threatened freedom of navigation.
Mr Trump said Beijing had passed a national security law which undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy from the mainland, prompting the president’s decision to revoke Hong Kong's special trading status.
“They broke their word to the world on ensuring the autonomy of Hong Kong,” Mr Trump said from the White House, where he also blamed China for a “cover up” of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Therefore I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment.”
Mr Trump added this would impact the “full range” of agreements with Hong Kong including extradition, export controls, dual-use technology and Hong Kong's treatment as a separate customs territory from mainland China.
The president said Washington would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for “smothering – absolutely smothering – Hong Kong's freedom”.
China's state-run Global Times newspaper called Mr Trump's announcement “recklessly arbitrary”.
Chinese authorities and Hong Kong's government say the security legislation poses no threat to the city's autonomy and the interests of foreign investors will be preserved.
Mr Trump also announced on Friday he would also be “terminating” the US’s relationship with the World Health Organisation.
The president accused the UN agency of failing to enact reforms in the face of US concerns over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and it put too much faith in information from China.
“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will today be terminating our relationship with the World Health Organisation and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” he said.
“China's cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world.”
Mr Trump said last month the US was suspending funding to the WHO pending a review of the organisation.
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