All national dailies on Sunday gave prominent coverage to President Trump’s announcement on Friday regarding his administration’s intention to end its preferential treatment for Hong Kong in trade and travel in reaction to Beijing’s enactment of a national security law for the semi-autonomous territory. The papers quoted President Trump as saying: “China has replaced its formula of one country, two systems with one country, one system…. This is a tragedy.”
While noting that the President concurrently announced the U.S.’s withdrawal from the WHO on account of its “China-centric” approach, Asahi claimed that the U.S. leader may be taking a hard line toward Beijing ahead of the November presidential election to deflect growing criticism at home of his handling of the coronavirus situation. Mainichi asserted that President Trump may be tempted to step up his “China bashing” in the run-up to the presidential race by capitalizing on an aversion to China among a large majority of both Republicans and Democrats that has been revealed by multiple opinion polls.
While voicing concern that China may take countermeasures, Nikkei speculated that ending the special trade status for Hong Kong may backfire on the U.S. as many American companies and financial institutions based in Hong Kong will lose business opportunities in the territory and mainland China. Sankei called President Trump’s announcements on Hong Kong and the WHO the opening salvo of a “new Cold War,” conjecturing that he has no qualms about clashing head-on with China even at the expense of U.S. business interests in Hong Kong and mainland China. The conservative daily opined that the U.S. leader was “enraged” because the U.S. economy, which he thought was enjoying unprecedented growth, has been pushed into a tailspin as a result of China’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 situation.