Pompeo says way U.S. treats Hong Kong depends on how China does

By David Brunnstrom and Humeyra Pamuk
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that the United States would treat Hong Kong as a Chinese rather than an autonomous city if China treats the territory as a Chinese city.
Pompeo said at the online democracy summit in Copenhagen in September that the Hong Kong elections "would tell us everything we need to know about the Chinese Communist Party's intentions for freedom in Hong Kong".
He also said Washington is working through a decision-making process on who will be held accountable for restricting Hong Kong's freedoms.
Pompeo spoke to China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi two days after his first face-to-face meeting in months, when he said Washington must respect Beijing's key issues and stop its interference in matters like Hong Kong while working to repair relationships.
US-China relations have reached their lowest point in years since the Chinese coronavirus pandemic hit the US hard.
Pompeo said his talks with Yang were "very open," and Washington still had no answers from China about the outbreak.
The numerous friction points include China's efforts to impose new security laws on Hong Kong that have prompted Trump to initiate a special economic elimination process that has allowed the territory to remain a global financial center.
"To the extent that the Chinese Communist Party treats Hong Kong the same way as Shenzhen and Shanghai, we will treat it the same," said Pompeo.
"We will remove any agreements that are unique between the United States and Hong Kong that are separate and different from those we have concluded with Beijing from each of these agreements."
Pompeo called on more European governments to talk about China, saying the US and its allies should "remove the golden blinkers of economic relations" and recognize the risks of dealing with Beijing.
Pompeo's statements came a day after Trump again threatened to cut economic ties with China, with whom he waged a trade war to offset a massive U.S. deficit.
Pompeo tweeted Thursday that Yang has "committed again to meet and honor" a Phase 1 trade deal agreed this year. Leading US diplomat for East Asia, David Stilwell, said the coming weeks would show whether the talks had progressed.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Humeyra Pamuk; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Nick Zieminski)

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