Hong Kong will suspend a mutual legal assistance agreement with the United States, China`s Foreign Ministry said Thursday in response to Washington`s termination of some agreements with Hong Kong. „China calls on the United States to immediately correct its mistakes,“ Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press conference announcing the suspension of the mutual legal assistance agreement on Thursday. China`s Foreign Ministry said Thursday it will suspend the agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters between the U.S. government and the Hong Kong government. The Hong Kong SAR government issued a statement calling the US government`s decision an example of double standards. A spokesperson referred to U.S. laws such as the National Security Act, the Logan Act, the U.S. Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act, drawing parallels between these U.S. laws and Hong Kong`s national security law.

He noted that the two countries have enacted their respective laws to protect national security and sovereignty. The agreement, signed in 1997 before Britain returned Hong Kong to China, stipulated that the U.S. and Hong Kong governments would assist each other in criminal matters such as transferring people into custody or searching and seizing proceeds of crime. Hong Kong has become another contentious issue between China and the United States, whose relations have already been strained by trade disputes, China`s claims in the South China Sea and its treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian echoed his sentiments at a press conference: „I would like to stress once again that Hong Kong affairs are China`s internal affairs and no external force has the right to interfere. China calls on the US side to immediately correct its wrong decision, stop interfering in Hong Kong and other internal affairs, and refrain from going further down the wrong path. The U.S. decision follows President Donald Trump`s order last month to end Hong Kong`s special status under U.S. law in order to punish China for what he called „oppressive actions“ against the former British colony. Yew Lun Tian reports; Editors: Toby Chopra, Robert Birsel Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

„The United States has unilaterally suspended the SFO agreement with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, using the Law on the Protection of National Security of the People`s Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as a pretext. The US decision not only smacks of political manipulation and double standards, but also constitutes blatant interference in China`s internal affairs and a serious violation of international law and the basic norms governing international relations. It has politicized judicial cooperation, seriously undermining the basis of judicial cooperation between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the United States. The U.S. State Department said Wednesday in Hong Kong that Washington had suspended or terminated three bilateral agreements with the semi-autonomous city after China introduced a comprehensive national security law. Beijing and the Hong Kong government have defended the law as necessary to restore order and maintain prosperity after months of sometimes violent protests against the government last year. Trump signed an executive order that he said would end preferential economic treatment for the city after the introduction of draconian new security law. The U.S. State Department had previously said the three agreements the U.S. terminated included „the surrender of fugitive offenders, the transfer of convicted persons, and reciprocal tax exemptions on revenues from the international operation of the ships.“ The national security law punishes anything China considers secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison and has drawn criticism from Western countries who fear the law will end freedoms promised when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule.

The announcement was made in response to the US government`s „erogenous“ decision to suspend three bilateral agreements with the Hong Kong SAR government. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced earlier this week that „the Chinese Communist Party has decided to destroy the freedoms and autonomy of the people of Hong Kong. Due to the CCP`s actions, we are terminating or suspending three of our bilateral agreements with the region. These agreements included the surrender of fugitive offenders, the transfer of convicts, and reciprocal tax exemptions for revenues from international maritime operations.