US Warns Businesses Against Doing Business in Hong Kong | New policies
By MATTHEW LEE, AP Diplomatic Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration on Friday issued a general warning to U.S. companies about the risks of doing business in Hong Kong as China continues to restrict political and economic freedoms in the territory.
Four Cabinet agencies – the Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security – have issued the nine-page notice that alerts businesses to the changing legal landscape in Hong Kong and the possibility that s t engaging with Hong Kong companies could result in reputational and legal damage.
At the same time, the Treasury announced sanctions against seven Chinese officials for violating the terms of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act of 2020, which calls for an asset freeze and other sanctions against those participating in the crackdown.
President Joe Biden previewed the new notice on Thursday, telling reporters at the White House that the business environment in Hong Kong was “deteriorating” and could get worse.
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“Businesses, individuals and others, including academic institutions, research service providers and investors who operate in Hong Kong, or who are exposed to sanctioned persons or entities, should be informed of changes to the Hong Kong laws and regulations, âthe notice reads. , titled âRisks and Considerations for Businesses Operating in Hong Kongâ.
âThis new legal landscapeâ¦ could have a negative impact on businesses and individuals operating in Hong Kong. As a result of these changes, they should be aware of the potential reputational, regulatory, financial and, in some cases, legal risks associated with their operations in Hong Kong, âhe said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored the notice in a statement marking the first anniversary of the passage of China’s new national security law which he said has had a profoundly negative effect on Hong Kong.
Blinken said the risks to businesses include “potential electronic surveillance and lack of data privacy, reduced access to information, and potential retaliation against companies for complying with US sanctions.”
âThe business advisory describes these emerging risks to educate US individuals and businesses and recommends increased awareness and due diligence,â he said.
The Hong Kong government responded with a statement calling the US opinion “utterly ridiculous and unfounded fear-mongering” motivated by ideology. “The main victims of this latest fallout will unfortunately be US businesses and US citizens who have made Hong Kong their home,” the statement said.
The Hong Kong American Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, responded to the notice, acknowledging that the business environment “is more complex and more difficult,” but saying it would continue its work.
“We are here to help our members overcome these challenges and risks while seizing the opportunities to do business in this region,” he said in a statement. He added that “Hong Kong remains a critical and dynamic facilitator of trade and financial flows between East and West.”
The United States, under the Trump and Biden administrations, has determined that since the passage of the National Security Act, Hong Kong no longer enjoys the significant autonomy from mainland China that Beijing has. was committed to upholding for 50 years when she took control of the ex-Briton. colony in 1997.
As such, Hong Kong no longer enjoys preferential trade and trade privileges from the United States, and some Hong Kong officials have been hit with US sanctions for their actions in suppressing democracy.
China is one of the few areas where the Biden administration has largely complied with Trump’s policies.
Friday’s warning follows a similar notice issued earlier this week reminding US companies of the potential liability of sanctions if they engage in business with Chinese entities that operate in the western Xinjiang region, where China is. accused of widespread repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities. .
The seven officials targeted by the sanctions are Chen Dong, He Jing, Lu Xinning, Qiu Hong, Tan Tieniu, Yang Jianping and Yin Zonghua. All seven are deputy directors of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s Central People’s Government Liaison Office, an agency the United States accuses of repeatedly undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.
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