Hong Kong won't be able to enjoy its status of being the financial hub of Asia any longer, once China imposes the new national security law.
That's the warning from Washington as Beijing looks to pass the highly controversial law on Hong Kong later this week.
"We strongly encourage China, mainland China, not to impose this law in Hong Kong. If they do, I can't see Hong Kong remaining in an Asian financial center the way it has been for many, many years."
O'Brien added that the 1992 Hong Kong Policy Act and the 2019 Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, both require the U.S. Secretary of State to certify that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy, but that would be difficult if the law is passed.
"Especially if the law is passed, it's hard to see how Secretary Pompeo could make that certification. If he fails to make that certification, there are consequences that come with it. Sanctions and others."
The new national security law which China plans to impose on Hong Kong will allow Beijing to implement laws that prevent and punish subversion, terrorism, separatism as well as any foreign interference.
Beijing explains that it's to (quote)"safeguard national security" in Hong Kong and improve the institutional framework of "one country, two systems."
The law has been criticized by pro-democracy activists and the international community due to the risk of eroding freedom in Hong Kong. But China has claimed that the matter is purely domestic and no foreign country has the right to interfere.
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam expressed support to Beijing's plan and vowed that the Hong Kong government will "fully cooperate" if the law is passed.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.