Pelosi Says Trump's 'Coddling' of Xi Enabled China's Hong Kong Crackdown

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has accused President Donald Trump of "enabling" Beijing to restrict freedoms in Hong Kong due to his relationship with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

Trump said he had signed an executive order on Tuesday which would hold Beijing accountable for the "oppressive" security law in the city, prohibiting the broadly defined crimes of subversion, sedition, terrorism and foreign collusion.

By effectively banning criticism of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the law spells an end to the relative freedoms Hong Kong had enjoyed since 1997 when it was handed over by the British.

During a press conference in the White House's Rose Garden, Trump said he also signed a bill approved by Congress, dubbed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which would penalise banks doing business with Chinese officials who were behind the new national security law.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a weekly briefing on Capitol Hill July 2, 2020, in Washington, DC. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images

Trump said the preferential trade agreement Hong Kong had received will end, and there would be "no special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies."

However Pelosi, who has been a prominent critic of China, said in a statement that the bipartisan legislation Trump had signed "is a reversal from his years of enabling President Xi's crackdown against Hong Kong.

"Unfortunately, this can only begin to reverse the damage President Trump has done after months of praising President Xi's handling of coronavirus, years of selling out the human rights of Uyghurs to ink a trade deal, and reportedly asking President Xi for help to win his re-election," she said referring to the Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region, and claims in the book by former national security adviser, John Bolton, that Trump sought Xi's assistance to win in 2020.

She said that Congress needed to use "every tool at our disposal" such as visa limitations and economic penalties to champion the autonomy of Hong Kong, adding that "the House continues to urge President Trump to stop coddling President Xi and take strong, strategic action to hold Chinese officials accountable."

"The House continues to urge President Trump to stop coddling President Xi and take strong, strategic action to hold Chinese officials accountable." Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

Trump also used the news conference to take aim at Beijing's response to the coronavirus, which he described as a "plague pouring in from China."

"Make no mistake, we hold China fully responsible for concealing the virus and unleashing it upon the world. they could have stopped it," Trump said.