Legislation called a ploy to boost Washington’s bargaining position in trade talks with Beijing
The passing of a Hong Kong-related bill by the United States Senate is a clear display of hegemonism, trampling on international law and threatening the health of the global economy, Hong Kong’s community leaders said on Wednesday.
The US Senate unanimously passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. The bill calls for annual reviews of the HKSAR’s autonomy, and for sanctions on those who “undermine” the autonomy.
The bill is expected to be on the desk of US President Donald Trump after it is reconciled with a similar bill passed by the House of Representatives last month, before it’s signed into law.
Brave Chan Yung, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong – the largest political party in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council – said such blatant intervention in the internal affairs of others clearly reflects US hegemonism, from which many countries and regions have suffered.
This time, with such high-profile support of Hong Kong radical protesters, it is clear that the US intends to profit from the ongoing “Extradition Bill Incident”, which has plagued the city for nearly half a year, Chan said.
US politicians’ actions are aimed at gaining bargaining chips in negotiations with China in the trade dispute, Chan said. This strategy could create favorable conditions for the US to contain China and consolidate its dominance of the global economy, he said.
No legal ground
Willy Fu Kin-chi, secretary-general of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, said the US move obviously lacks the legal grounds under international law for the legislation.
Not interfering with the internal affairs of other countries and regions is a major principle of international law, Fu said. By blatantly violating such a principle, the US is showing little respect for the sovereignty of others and the hard-won consensus of the international community, he said.
To better safeguard the shared principles and norms of all humankind, he called for concerted efforts from the global community to condemn and curb the US move.
Samuel Yung Wing-ki, executive district director of AIA International Ltd, said the bill, which threatens to revoke Hong Kong’s separate status in trade and finance, may lead to heavy losses to the global economy, including the business interests of the US itself.
No benefit to US itself
With the cancellation of these preferential treatments, such as tax reduction, the cost of operating business in Hong Kong and trading with Hong Kong-based firms will definitely increase.
According to Invest Hong Kong and the Census and Statistics Department, 1,344 US companies have branches in Hong Kong, of which 278 are regional headquarters.
In terms of trade in goods, the US has all along been enjoying a substantial trade surplus with Hong Kong. In 2018, the US had a surplus of $31.1 billion in merchandise trade over Hong Kong, the economy with which the US has the highest trade surplus.
With US firms suffering and considering the close trade connection among the world’s major economic entities, a negative chain effect may soon affect global businesses, Yung said.
(HK Edition 11/21/2019 page4)