He was the most senior Trump administration official to offer a substantial reaction to China’s drastic proposal, which brought a new focus to continuing tensions between the United States and China, whose relationship is already at its worst point in decades.
Speaking on CNN Friday morning, the White House economic adviser, Kevin Hassett, a former chairman of President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, echoed Mr. Pompeo’s tough talk.
“We’re absolutely not going to give China a pass,” Mr. Hassett said, adding, “It’s a very difficult, scary move.”
After the Chinese proposal was announced on Thursday, the State Department commented only through its press officer. The president himself was noncommittal, saying he was unfamiliar with the measure.
“If it happens, we’ll address that issue very strongly,” Mr. Trump said, stopping short of committing himself to specific action. But bipartisan support in Congress for punishing China could force his hand in the coming weeks.
In his early morning statement, Mr. Pompeo said that the United States “condemns” the legislation proposed by China’s Communist Party on Thursday and likely to be enacted in the coming days.
Mr. Pompeo said that the proposal “would be a death knell for the high degree of autonomy Beijing promised for Hong Kong under the Sino-British joint declaration” and that it “would inevitably impact our assessment of ‘one country, two systems’ and the status of the territory.”
“The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its international obligations, and respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and civil liberties, which are key to preserving its special status under U.S. law,” Mr. Pompeo said.
“We stand with the people of Hong Kong,” he added.
In the Trump administration, China policy has generally been divided between economic officials wary of conflict that could rattle markets and disrupt trade talks, and national security officials determined to confront China’s growing strategic power, making Mr. Hassett’s harsh words all the more notable.