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The decision came as China’s rubber stamp parliament was set to vote Thursday on a new Hong Kong security law, a move that has triggered renewed protests.Under legislation passed last year to support Hong Kong’s pro democracy protesters, the US administration must certify that the city still enjoys the freedoms promised by Beijing when it negotiated with Britain to take back the colony.”No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, adding the trade hub “does not continue to warrant” its special status.The determination means that Hong Kong could lose trading privileges including lower tariffs than the mainland with the world’s largest economy.President Donald Trump will ultimately decide which actions to take, said David Stilwell, the top State Department official for East Asia.”The steps will be considered and they will be as targeted as possible to change behavior,” Stilwell told reporters, while acknowledging it was unlikely Beijing would change course.He said the United States did not want to hurt the people of Hong Kong, adding: “This decision was made by the government in Beijing, and not by the US.”China’s National People’s Congress is expected Thursday to take another step on the security law that would ban secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference a step that Hong Kong activists say abolishes basic freedoms. Bipartisan support China’s treatment of Hong Kong has provoked rare bipartisan support during the divisive tumult of the Trump administration and ahead of November’s presidential election.The Hang Seng Index on the city’s stock exchange was down 1.8 percent around lunchtime.Joshua Wong, a prominent pro democracy activist who has lobbied for trade sanctions, said Beijing could not expect foreign countries to ignore what is happening to such an important global trade hub.”Hong Kong is not just a Chinese city, it’s a global metropolis where the international community is a stakeholder,” he told reporters.But Holden Chow, a pro Beijing lawmaker, said Beijing’s national security laws would make the city safer for businesses after last year’s unrest.”The United States should not intervene in our internal affairs and should stop intimidating us,” he said. Anthem law Washington’s decision came as fresh protests broke out in Hong Kong on Wednesday this time over another controversial proposed law that criminalizes insults to the national anthem with up to three years in jail.Police surrounded the city’s legislature where the bill was being debated, fired pepper ball rounds at protesters and arrested more than 300 people, mostly for unlawful assembly.”It’s like a de facto curfew now,” Nathan Law, a prominent pro democracy advocate, told AFP.

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