President Donald Trump intensified his confrontation with China, vowing to punish the country for the coronavirus pandemic and steps to curb Hong Kong's autonomy by ending the territory's special trade status with the U.S. and denying visas to Chinese officials.
Citing a litany of grievances against the country, some dating to before he was elected president, Mr. Trump said the U.S. would begin a process to revoke Hong Kong's preferential trade status under U.S. law. American financial regulators would examine Chinese firms listed on U.S. stock markets with an eye toward limiting American investment in the companies, he said, and Chinese nationals considered to be security threats would be denied entry to the country.
The U.S. will terminate its support for the World Health Organization, Mr. Trump said, claiming the agency had been manipulated by Beijing during the pandemic and was under the "total control" of China.
"Our actions will be strong, our actions will be meaningful," the president said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden. He took no questions.
But few of Mr. Trump's actions will take place immediately, and U.S. financial markets were untroubled by his announcement.
U.S. stocks erased losses and traded little changed as Mr. Trump stopped short of implementing more draconian measures against China, with the S&P 500 index rising 0.5% for the day.
Mr. Trump's announcement came after China's legislature moved this week to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong that critics say will restrict freedoms in the city. The U.S. president has also sought to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic that's killed more than 100,000 Americans as domestic criticism of his handling of the outbreak has mounted.