On May 29, 2020, President Trump announced in a White House news conference that the US government would begin taking steps to revoke the “full range of agreements” providing the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China separate treatment under US law on topics including customs, extradition, and export controls “with few exceptions.” The United States also plans to sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials “directly or indirectly involved in eroding” Hong Kong’s autonomy, the President announced.

The President’s announcement contained few specifics on the proposed measures or a timeline for their implementation. We anticipate additional guidance and actions from the US Departments of State, Treasury, and Commerce in the coming days and weeks.  

The decision follows Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement, on May 27, 2020, that he would certify to Congress that Hong Kong no longer enjoys a high degree of autonomy from the People’s Republic of China, for purposes of the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, as amended by the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. As a result, “Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997.”

Steptoe will continue to monitor these developments closely. For more information on how these proposed changes may impact your business, contact a member of Steptoe’s Economic Sanctions practice in Hong Kong and Washington, or Steptoe’s Government Affairs & Public Policy practice in Washington.