Trade War 2.0 or worse? Trump strips Hong Kong of its special trading status, dramatically escalating US-China tensions
In the backdrop of a controversial Chinese "national security" law that aims to prevent "splittism," which Hong Kong's Bar Association described as a violation of the territory's Basic Law, US President Donald Trump's administration escalated tensions by stripping Hong Kong of its special trading status.
The immediate impact of this move is that Hong Kong will no longer be treated as a separate entity from China when it comes to tariffs and import regulations. This has the potential to wreak immense damage on Hong Kong's economy because facilitates trade on terms not possible in other parts of China.
What's more important, however, is that the move appears to be the most dramatic escalation yet in the ongoing war of words and tariffs between the US and China, described by China's foreign minister as being on the "brink of a new cold war."
If tensions over COVID-19 and Hong Kong escalate, it is impossible to estimate the impact on global consumer tech supply chains. While companies like Apple are taking nascent steps towards moving manufacturing out of China and into countries like India, an immense amount of semiconductor manufacturing, smartphone manufacturing, and so much more takes place in China.
If companies like Apple are cut off from access to Foxconn manufacturing plants, for instance, the consequences would be incalculable. This is a rapidly developing story and we will keep you posted.