US senators seek info on export rules for HK amid China worries

September 11, 2019 09:36
Marco Rubio is among the US senators that have voiced concern over perceived erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy. Photo: Reuters

A group of US senators on Tuesday urged the Trump administration to assess US export rules for Hong Kong, expressing concern that China could acquire sensitive technologies because of Hong Kong's special treatment under United States law, Reuters reports.

The lawmakers also expressed concern about the use of crowd control equipment against Hong Kong demonstrators, seeking to put pressure on Beijing after three months of pro-democracy street protests in Hong Kong, the report said.

“We believe it is critical that the United States take appropriate measures to ensure China does not abuse Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law to steal or otherwise acquire critical or sensitive U.S. equipment and technologies in support of its strategic objectives or to infringe on the rights of people in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and elsewhere,” the senators were quoted as saying in a letter.

The letter, addressed US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asked for “detailed information” about the current status of the US export control regime and an assessment, in writing or via a briefing, as well as an update on any interagency discussions on revamping US export controls as a way to address what the senators described as “China’s continued erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.”

The letter asked for a response by Oct. 1.

The letter was signed by the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senators Jim Risch and Bob Menendez, and their counterparts on the Banking Committee, Republican Mike Crapo and Sherrod Brown.

It was also signed by Republican Senators Cory Gardner, Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey, and Democrats Ed Markey, Ben Cardin and Jack Reed.

The move came as weeks of protests in Hong Kong over a now withdrawn extradition bill in the city have evolved into a broader backlash against the government and greater calls for democracy.

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