On Thursday Jul 15th, US President Joe Biden confirmed his plan to issue a new advisory this week. The advisory will go to American companies based in Hong Kong. These companies will be warned of the risks of doing business there.
Biden was speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. When asked for details about the warning, Biden said “Let me talk about the business advisory.”
Deteriorating situation in Hong Kong
Biden said “The situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating and the Chinese government is not keeping its commitment that it made [about] how it would deal with Hong Kong.”
“And so it is more of an advisory as to what may happen in Hong Kong. It’s as simple as that and as complicated as that.”
As reported first by the Financial Times, the business advisory will highlight China’s ability to access data stored by companies in Hong Kong. Also, the advisory will highlight the risk of being targeted by a new Chinese law as well. The new Chinese law could punish firms for complying with sanctions by foreign governments.
Many of the pressure points enacted during the tenure of former US president Donald Trump are largely maintained by the Biden administration. Special cases such as the business advisory have been moved up on the list.
Biden extended a national emergency designation last week over Beijing’s tightening control on Hong Kong. When it comes to American security and economic interests, he describes this as an “extraordinary threat”. Former president Trump made the emergency declaration in March 2020. The declaration grants the US president sweeping sanctioning powers.
After Beijing forced a sweeping national security law upon Hong Kong, the US emergency declaration came one year later. Hong Kong’s autonomy has been chipped away further by the national security law, according to critics. Also, the critics say the new law undermines Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
Possible fresh sanctions by the US
The Biden administration is also weighing fresh sanctions against Chinese officials in Hong Kong this week, according to the Financial Times. However, during Thursday’s press conference, President Biden did not mention any particular punitive measures aside from the business advisory.
Sanctions already issued by the Biden administration
Biden’s administration already issued sanctions against 24 Chinese officials in the first two months of his presidency. The sanctions are over efforts to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy, including a sweeping overhaul of the city’s electoral system.
The US sanctions were enacted under the authority of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act. Also, they target foreign financial institutions that conduct business with the 24 blacklisted individuals.
Political manipulation and hypocrisy
Criticism from western countries of China’s handling of Hong Kong is routinely rejected by Beijing. Also, concerns about the impact of the national security law on Hong Kong’s rule of law are dismissed by Beijing. These issues are taken as attempts to interfere in China’s internal affairs.
China’s Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, has a weekly press conference. A question was raised about the forthcoming US business advisory during this week’s conference. Zhao said the US move is “a typical case of political manipulation and hypocrisy”.
While referring to the city’s mini-constitution, Zhao claims, “Hong Kong’s Basic Law and other relevant laws clearly protect the rights and interests of foreign investors.”
Rule of law
However, such claims do not make any impact to reduce the concerns of the US and a number of western nations.
On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters “A healthy business community relies on the rule of law, which the national security law that applies to Hong Kong continues to undermine.”
“Rule of law risks that were formerly limited to mainland China are now increasingly a concern in Hong Kong. That’s of great concern to us.”
16th July 2021 23:00
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