In late October, United States Republican Congressman Ted Yoho, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, along with several other members of the House of Representatives, paid a visit to Hong Kong and met with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor as well as the Parliamentary Liaison Subcommittee of the Legislative Council, including lawmakers from both the pan-democratic and the pro-establishment camps.
The American congressional delegates told the media afterwards that they discussed issues such as the disqualification of six pro-democracy lawmakers by the court, the missing booksellers of Causeway Bay Books, and the denial of entry into Hong Kong of the deputy chair of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, etc.
However, what is truly intriguing about the visit is that the American congressmen also, rather surprisingly, brought up the North Korea issue with Lam and the lawmakers. They raised concern about the potential of Hong Kong’s free and open economic system being taken advantage of by Pyongyang, and asked both Lam and the Legco members for “assistance”.
To most people of Hong Kong, the North Korea issue, including its nuclear crisis, might appear to be just another piece of international headline and is therefore irrelevant to us.
However, the truth is, it is not as distant from us as most of us think.
For instance, according to sources from diplomatic circles, Pyongyang’s representatives in Hong Kong have been getting increasingly active in recent years and working more aggressively to build connections in our city.
Nevertheless, as Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun pointed out during the meeting with the US congressmen, there is nothing the Hong Kong government can promise or do over the North Korea issue as requested by the US, since diplomatic issues are beyond the jurisdiction of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
In other words, Hong Kong cannot, and will not, provide the US government with any help over Pyongyang’s activities in our city.
It appears that our American guests were disappointed. The reality is, unless Beijing gives the green light, there is absolutely no role for Hong Kong in the North Korea issue including its ongoing nuclear crisis.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 7
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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