US suspends, terminates 3 agreements with Hong Kong

(Anadolu) – The US notified Hong Kong authorities of the suspension or termination of three bilateral agreements, the State Department announced Wednesday amid a worsening row with China.

The agreements that are being unilaterally rescinded or suspended cover the surrender of fugitives, transfers of sentenced individuals and reciprocal tax exemptions on income from international ships, agency spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

“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,” she said.

The US has been at loggerheads with China because of its policies in Hong Kong, particularly its decision to apply a controversial national security law to the autonomous territory that critics say is intended to quash dissent.

Hong Kong’s authorities were notified earlier Wednesday.

Last week, Hong Kong authorities carried out sweeping arrests under the security law that included the detention of media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and nine others.

Apple Daily tabloid founder Lai, his two sons, and seven others, including journalists and activists, were accused of “foreign collusion” before being released on bail.

Hong Kong police also raided the offices of Lai’s daily, a declared “pro-democracy” outlet.

Beijing rejected criticism from western governments about the arrests, saying they were meant to “avoid foreign interference” in China’s premier business hub.

The police action came one month after China implemented its national security law in the semi-autonomous region.

The law criminalizes anti-China sentiments in the region, which continued to serve as a vibrant economic hub after the UK handed it over to Beijing in 1997 under a vow that it would enjoy a “high level of autonomy” for 50 years.

The US also imposed sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and several senior current and former officials for “undermining the autonomy of Hong Kong.”

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