Hong Kong, the autonomous state that has always been subjected to pressure from Beijing, might lose much of its financial standing if Washington leaves it in the lurch.
China has stepped up involvement in Hong Kong, especially since Chinese President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, fanning fears that Beijing will erode its freedoms and human rights.
But many things have changed since 1997, when the former British colony became an integral part of China.
Business groups are urging U.S. President Donald Trump to go slowly in responding to Beijing's planned imposition of new national security laws on Hong Kong, warning revoking the city's special U.S. privileges will hurt the territory and its people.
The U.S., Australia, Canada, and United Kingdom said the law would "undermine" the agreement and "raises the prospect of prosecution in Hong Kong for political crimes, and undermines existing commitments to protect the rights of Hong Kong people". Martin Liao Cheung-kong, chairman of the LegCo committee responsible for the bill, said the national anthem is the national symbol and sign according to the Constitution of China and that Hong Kong bears the constitutional responsibility for the legislation, which implies the importance of respecting the national anthem.
The lack of such laws - an attempt by Hong Kong officials to introduce them in 2003 failed after massive public pushback - is now being given as justification for Beijing's actions.
Details of the new Chinese legislation, which could see mainland security agencies to set up operations in Hong Kong, are being deliberated this week by China's parliament. -Chinese tensions and throwing into question the island territory's status as a global financial powerhouse.
But the USA legislation also came with a political mechanism through which the State Department is required to annually evaluate the degree of the city's autonomy, and therefore to subsequently decide whether the world's fourth most developed region is truly deserving of Washington's special treatment.
Trump has pledged to take "powerful action" against China, with Washington asking Beijing to respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and civil liberties, which are key to preserving the territory's special trade status under US law. This has damaged its traditional manufacturers.
Should China take a harsher line against Hong Kong, self-governing Taiwan, which the mainland regards as a renegade province, would be more confrontational with Beijing and get closer to Washington, leading to a further deterioration of their ties.
"Hong Kong and its dynamic, enterprising and free people have flourished for decades as a bastion of liberty, and this decision gives me no pleasure. But sound policy-making requires a recognition of reality", Pompeo assessed, referring to the city's changing fortunes.
"Most importantly, Hong Kong developments today must be contextualized against the struggle between the United States and China that has been going on", said Victor Teo, a regional expert at the University of Hong Kong.
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