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US bans defence sales to Hong Kong

The United States said on 29 June it will cease defence exports to Hong Kong and look to restrict transfers of sensitive dual-use technologies to the territory.

The move is not significant in terms of the value of such transfers, but it does represent the latest in a series of US decisions aimed at restricting China’s access to sensitive technologies that could benefit its military.

The US State Department said that the new ban is in response to China’s introduction of a controversial national security law. On 30 June, the standing committee of China’s National People’s Congress reportedly approved this law, which critics say will restrict opposition politics and limit freedom of speech in Hong Kong.

A press statement by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said, “As Beijing moves forward with passing the national security law, the United States will today end exports of US-origin defence equipment and will take steps toward imposing the same restrictions on US defence and dual-use technologies to Hong Kong as it does for China.”

He added, “We cannot risk these items falling into the hands of the People’s Liberation Army, whose primary purpose is to uphold the dictatorship of the CCP [Communist Party of China] by any means necessary.”

Pompeo said the move is a “direct consequence” of the Chinese government’s decision to “violate its own commitments under the UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration”.

The territory of Hong Kong was transferred from Britain to China in 1997. Under the associated declaration, Hong Kong has maintained separate governing and economic systems from China under a principal of ‘one country, two systems’.


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