Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who this week unveiled sanctions over China’s actions in Hong Kong, warned business leaders that the U.S. will treat the city, a global trade and financial center, the same way as mainland China.
“This is no longer anything but another Chinese Communist-run city,” Mr. Pompeo said in an interview at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council summit on Tuesday. “The world, the business community should treat it as such, and the United States government is very close to being in a place where it’s doing precisely that.”
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, in a separate interview at the CEO Council, defended the business climate, saying that Hong Kong serves as a gateway to doing business on mainland China and that companies operating there welcome increased security.
“If you ask me, this is one of the best times to come,” said Mrs. Lam, who has been sanctioned by the U.S. for helping implement China’s crackdown. “Nothing has changed in recent years, except that we no longer see those chaotic scenes that have been disturbing and disrupting business for a very long time since June last year.”
Mr. Pompeo said business executives have complained to him privately about getting “ripped off” in China, whose exports to the U.S. continue to face U.S. tariffs following a trade conflict. The Trump administration has warned businesses about risks they face in China, including sanctions.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has strengthened Beijing’s political hold on the country in recent years, and the Communist Party has reduced the autonomy of Hong Kong’s government, triggering protests that have turned violent as police use force to quell dissent.
On Monday, the Trump administration added 14 vice-chairpersons of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to its sanctions blacklist for actions that the U.S. says undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee officials are responsible for the new national-security law, which led a bloc of pro-Democracy Hong Kong legislators to resign last month.
China’s government criticized the sanctions and Mr. Pompeo directly.
“The Chinese government and people express strong indignation to and strongly condemn the outrageous, unscrupulous, crazy and vile act of the U.S. side,” said a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying. “This fully exposed the vicious intent of the United States to interfere in China’s internal affairs, mess up Hong Kong and undermine China’s stability and development.”
Asked about recent tensions between China and Taiwan, Mr. Pompeo said in the interview: “I hope that the Chinese Communist Party will make a different decision with respect to Taiwan.”
Write to William Mauldin at firstname.lastname@example.org