US-China Tensions Rise as Beijing Signals Tightening Controls on Hong Kong

China’s decision to propose new legislation tightening control over Hong Kong has sparked a wave of condemnation from American lawmakers and officials, in yet another sign of worsening relations between the economic superpowers.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement Friday saying he “condemns” China’s parliament for proposing legislation that he claimed “would be a death knell for the high degree of autonomy Beijing promised for Hong Kong.”FILE – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, May 20, 2020.He also vowed that “any decision impinging on Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms … would inevitably impact our assessment of One Country, Two Systems and the status of the territory.”Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, also denounced Beijing’s moves, saying China has used the global crisis around the pandemic as cover for increasing authoritarianism.”A further crackdown from Beijing will only intensify the Senate’s interest in reexamining the U.S.-China relationship,” McConnell said.White House reportEven before Beijing’s Hong Kong announcement this week, the Trump administration was reviewing its China policy, publishing a FILE – Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen speaks at the Taipei Guest House as part of her inauguration for her second term in office, in Taipei, May 20, 2020, in this handout picture taken by the Taiwan Presidential office.Addressing Tsai formally as “president,” Pompeo became the highest-level U.S. official to offer congratulations to a Taiwan president. In the past, top U.S. officials refrained from speaking out in order to not offend Beijing, which does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country.Russell Hsaio, executive director with Global Taiwan Institute, told VOA that the U.S. needs to send a strong signal of political support to Taiwan at this moment.”This was probably as much a signal to Beijing as it was to Taipei,” he said, “To the former, while the United States still adheres to its One-China Policy, Washington will not allow Beijing to dictate how it conducts relations with a democratic ally and important security partner of the United States.”A day after Tsai’s inauguration, the U.S. approved a possible sale of heavy weight torpedoes to Taiwan in a deal estimated to cost $180 million, a gesture certain to anger Beijing.  Hsaio said the enhancement of U.S.-Taiwan ties is a function of growing trust between Washington and Taipei.Katherine Gypson contributed to this report.
 


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