U.S. President Donald Trump could punish Beijing for eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy and other human rights abuses — but his options won’t be very damaging to China, said a leading Chinese economist on Friday.

Hong Kong has special privileges under American law, which treats the territory more favorably than the mainland, and has so far exempted the Asian financial hub from punishing tariffs that the U.S. has imposed on China. Observers say the U.S. can revoke that special status for Hong Kong and that would hurt China, which relies on Hong Kong as a bridge to the rest of the world.

But Li Daokui, an economics professor from Tsinghua University, told CNBC that any threats to revoke Hong Kong’s special privileges from the U.S. won’t be

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