May 22, 2020 – HONG KONG – The freedoms that distinguish Hong Kong from the mainland, such as an independent judiciary and freedom of assembly, have long helped the city prosper as one of the world’s top international business centers.
An NPC announcement that it will bypass the Hong Kong legislative process to enact a Hong Kong security law may jeopardize future prospects for international business, particularly if a long list of details is not spelled out and clarified.
Also alarmingly for US business, national security legislation as proposed could lead to a tit-for-tat between Washington and Beijing that eventually curtails Hong Kong’s special treatment as defined in the Hong Kong Policy Act. The city is already caught in the crossfire of a growing US-China trade war, and the proposed national security legislation could be a lightning rod for further friction.
“Hong Kong today stands as a model of free trade, strong governance, free flow of information and efficiency,” said Robert Grieves, AmCham Chairman. “No one wins if the foundation for Hong Kong’s role as a prime international business and financial center is eroded.”
“Definition and details are really necessary to alleviate a fear factor developing in the business community. A Beijing inspired national security law leaves open an interpretation of how such an act will be enforced. How will it affect the rule of law? Will it mean limiting online, press and personal freedoms? People may also ask whether Beijing’s concern over foreign interference adds an element of risk to foreigners living here,” said Tara Joseph, AmCham President.
Finally the enactment of a vaguely defined national security law will make it harder to recruit and retain top tier talent. Already recruitment of international talent to Hong Kong has slowed. The Hong Kong Government could help by stepping in to ensure the safety of overseas executives, and reassuring international businesses facing new uncertainties here.