US Suspends Sensitive Tech Exports to Hong Kong
The US government has said it will suspend export of sensitive defense technologies to Hong Kong after China passed a controversial national security law in the Special Administrative Region (SAR).
In a brief statement on Monday, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross argued that the new law meant that sensitive US tech may find its way into the hands of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) or the fearsome Ministry of State Security (MSS), both of which are prolific sources of cyber-attacks on foreign targets.
“Commerce Department regulations affording preferential treatment to Hong Kong over China, including the availability of export license exceptions, are suspended,” he continued.
“Further actions to eliminate differential treatment are also being evaluated. We urge Beijing to immediately reverse course and fulfill the promises it has made to the people of Hong Kong and the world.”
The controversial law was passed unanimously today by China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress.
It seeks to criminalize activities such as secession and collusion with foreign forces, but many see it as an attempt to muzzle political activists and protesters in the region. The law also flies in the face of the binding “one country, two systems” agreement between China and the UK which intended the SAR to retain its autonomy for 50 years after the handover in 1997.
Judging by Ross’s remarks, the ban on exports of sensitive technologies to Hong Kong is likely to presage a wider revocation of the SAR’s special status under US law, by which it is granted certain preferential economic and trading rights over China.
On Friday, the State Department also imposed visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party officials accused of undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Beijing’s opaque political system is such that no Hong Kongers have yet even been able to see and read for themselves exactly what the legislation entails.
However, reports suggest it will carry a maximum sentence of life.