The U.S. has started to issue warnings to American companies that do business in Hong Kong about the rising risks as China continue to impose new laws that are contrary to the Chinese government’s agreement with the United Kingdom about personal freedoms and democracy when Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997.
The Biden Administration has started to impose sanctions on Hong Kong lawmakers and officials who are stifling democracy and supporting a communist agenda being imposed by mainland China over the island territory. When Hong King was handed back to China by the British in 1997, China agreed to give Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy including freedom of the press, democracy and personal freedoms and rights. China has since imposed a national security law last year that severely restricts demonstrations, who can run for political office and new types of political demonstrations that are now considered treason. It also has forced pro democracy news outlets to close and has begun threatening news and internet providers with stiff penalties if they don’t self-censor anti-China content. Google recently said it may leave Hong Kong due to the pressure China is trying to exert on the company to censor content.
While Hong Kong is a major business hub in Asia, its status is shrinking as more international businesses are leaving the once stable territory as more intrusive laws are put into place and personal freedoms are removed. Both he U.S. and the U.K. complained to China that it was not living up to the agreement it signed to guarantee these rights and freedoms, but it appears China is no longer listening. Major international financial business firms have already left Hong Kong, along with many other professional business services, shrinking Hong Kong’s economic strength and the island’s importance in International trade. Many have moved to nearby Singapore.
Hong Kong democracy advocate Tzi Hoi Chang said, “China doesn’t have to listen anymore, it’s now powerful enough on its own that it no longer sees the U.S. as a force to work within, but rather a force it must overcome. Soon Hong Kong will no longer be a beacon of economic freedom with a seat at the global economic table, but instead a regional financial hub within the communist system and a business services hub serving the greater Pearl River Delta area.”
U.S. State Department Ned Price said that the national security law “continues to undermine” the rule of law in Hong Kong that a healthy business community relies on.