The US president’s vitriolic interview with the media comes amid tightening measures against Chinese tech firms in the ongoing trade war with Beijing as well as struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
Hong Kong could “never succeed” under control from Beijing and its markets would “go to hell”, US President Donald Trump said in an interview this week.
Speaking by phone to the Fox Business channel, Trump said: “Once China got aggressive and took it over, I took everything back. Everything’s back now. And it will fail.”
He added that the US would be taking back billions in dollars of “very expensive incentives” given to the special administrative region.
“Hong Kong is a very complex problem because we’ve given tremendous amounts of money in the form of incentives to make Hong Kong free, to make Hong Kong work – and to our detriment. All of those incentives that they had for the Hong Kong market, in order to keep a certain amount of freedom over there, knowing they have China looming over the top of them – but all of those incentive, billions and billions and billions of dollars I gave, that we gave, to Hong Kong, I’ve taken back now,” he said, without going into further detail on the specific incentives.
The news comes after US-China tensions skyrocketed over the coronavirus pandemic and Hong Kong national security law, with Washington stating it would treat Hong Kong with the same rules as Beijing after revoking the city’s special status.
The Trump administration also ordered all Hong Kong exports to the US to be labelled “Made in China” by 25 September.
“Hong Kong is, if you use a business term, it’s owned by China. So why should I give this to China? “Hong Kong can never succeed without those incentives. And Hong Kong can never succeed having China, as opposed to the thousands of geniuses that ran it, having China run it,” he added.
He concluded, stating that US markets would make “a lot more money” and that the Hong Kong economy would “go to hell”, adding: “Nobody’s going to do business – very few people are going to do business in Hong Kong any more.”
The comments come after Trump made similar remarks to Fox Sports on Tuesday, stating: “We’re not participating from the standpoint of we’re not spending, you know, billions of dollars on making life comfortable with them for freedom.”
“That was okay, we’d do that if they were free, but they’re not free,” he concluded.
The Hong Kong national security bill entered into force on 1 July, 23 years after the special administrative region was transferred to Chinese control after a 99-year lease with the United Kingdom.
AFP 2020 / ANTHONY WALLACE
Officials in Washington and London have said the move will harm the “one country, two systems” agreement following the transfer, potentially causing the region to lose its autonomy as Beijing cracks down on anti-secessionist protestors.
But city chief executive Carrie Lam blasted opponents of the security law as “enemies of the people” and later announced the appointment of hardliner Zheng Yanxiong, who will oversee the law’s implementation in the region.
Despite Trump’s claims, 133 Chinese firms made the Fortune 500 list compared with 121 US companies, for the first time in history, it was reported on Thursday. Numerous state-owned enterprises and private Chinese firms made the roster, including Sinopec and Huawei Technologies, with the latter heavily targeted under the US president’s ongoing trade war.