Hong Kong Slams US Decision To End Tax, Extradition Deals

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Hong Kong on Thursday accused America of using the city as a pawn in ties with China as it slammed a US decision to withdraw from three accords on extradition and taxation.

The United States formally notified the Asian financial hub on Wednesday that it had withdrawn from bilateral deals covering the surrender of fugitives, transfer of prisoners and tax exemptions on income from shipping.

Washington’s move came in response to the imposition by China of a national security law in Hong Kong that critics say is an attack on freedoms in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

“These steps underscore our deep concern regarding Beijing’s decision to impose the national security law, which has crushed the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong,” the US Department of State said.

But a Hong Kong government spokesperson on Thursday said abandoning the deals created further “troubles in the China-US relationship, using Hong Kong as a pawn”, and “should be condemned by the international community”.

He said the decision reflects a “disrespect for bilateralism and multilateralism” under the administration of US President Donald Trump.

Beijing also criticised the “wrong actions of the US”, saying China has decided Hong Kong would suspend its agreement with the US on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing: “Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs… China urges the US to immediately correct its wrong decision.”

The US announcement followed an earlier decision by Trump to revoke the preferential trade status afforded Hong Kong under American law, as Beijing clamps down on the territory after huge and often violent pro-democracy protests last year.

Hong Kong authorities said the three agreements terminated on Wednesday were negotiated “in good faith to benefit the peoples and businesses of both sides”.

The spokesperson added that ending the tax exemptions would increase the operating costs of shipping companies.

“It will hamper the development of the shipping sector between Hong Kong and the US, and is in nobody’s interest,” he said.

Earlier this month Washington imposed sanctions on Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam along with 10 other senior officials in the city, and criminalised any US financial transactions with the group.

It also required goods imported from Hong Kong to be marked as “made in China” rather than “made in Hong Kong” as previously.

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