Some options open to Trump in response to Hong Kong crisis

Reuters | May 29, 2020 at 6:21 PM

May 29 (Reuters) - China's parliament is moving forward with national security legislation on Hong Kong after mass protests last year, raising fears the territory will lose the autonomy that enabled it to remain a global financial center after British rule ended in 1997.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed a strong response and said he will announce steps on China at a news conference on Friday. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday Trump will make a series of announcements on Hong Kong "in the coming days."

Here is a look at some of Trump's options.

- After Pompeo said on Wednesday that Hong Kong no longer warrants special treatment under U.S. law given the erosion of its autonomy, Trump could take what analysts have called the "nuclear option" and completely strip the territory of the U.S. economic privileges it has enjoyed since 1997.

Such a major step looks unlikely for now, given concern for the more than 1,300 U.S. firms that have offices in Hong Kong and provide about 100,000 jobs. David Stilwell, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, said this week steps would be calibrated to mitigate the impact on Hong Kong people and U.S. businesses.

- U.S. officials and people familiar with the discussions said the administration was crafting a range of options, including targeted sanctions, new tariffs and further restrictions on Chinese companies.

Two sources told Reuters on Thursday the United States was also planning to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students. Stilwell said Trump has a long list of potential responses and that moves could be "across the spectrum," including visa and economic sanctions.