The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a US congressional body, published its annual report on Wednesday, which said Beijing’s “encroachment on Hong Kong’s political system, rule of law, and freedom of expression is moving the territory closer to becoming more like any other Chinese city”.
The report recommended that the US government review the current treatment of Hong Kong and the mainland as separate customs entities for technology exports under the US-Hong Kong Policy Act.
The concerns raised in the report were echoed by a number of key pan-democratic lawmakers in Hong Kong.
Dr. Kwok Ka-ki of the Civic Party said the accusations made in the US congressional report against Beijing are all facts that are totally beyond dispute, and urged the Hong Kong government to explain the city’s current situation to the West and promise not to ever again damage the “one country, two systems” principle.
Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun and Charles Mok Nai-kwong of the Professional Commons also expressed concerns about the adverse implications of the report on Hong Kong’s external trade if the issue snowballs.
However, the pro-establishment camp has largely dismissed the pan-dems’ concerns.
Some pro-establishment figures speculated the Americans are probably just bluffing, because, given the substantial trade surplus of the US with Hong Kong, it is definitely not in Washington’s interests to tinker with the US-Hong Kong Policy Act, which was passed by the US Congress in 1992.
Members of the pro-establishment camp also accused the pan-dems of eagerly dancing to the US tune in smearing Hong Kong.
However, a number of pro-establishment figures have revealed that so far they haven’t received any “order” from Beijing’s Liaison Office to hit back at the US report, and they are all actually acting on their own in rebutting the US accusations rather than toeing Beijing’s line.
Besides, they said, Beijing just couldn’t care less about the accusations leveled against it by the US Congress, hence no instruction from the Liaison Office to lash out at the report.
Nevertheless, some in the local business sector are anything but optimistic about Washington’s policy towards Hong Kong in the coming days.
They said even if the US is holding Hong Kong to a double standard, there is nothing we can do about it,because, after all, the US is the world’s largest economic and military power, not to mention that the “deportation” of Victor Mallet did provide Washington with extra ammunition to substantiate its accusations against Beijing.
These business figures are worried that if the US is really determined to pick on Hong Kong, it would not only deal a heavy blow to the city’s economy, but would also impact our livelihood and undermine our social stability.
As such, the SAR government must ponder how to respond to the US onslaught, they added.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 16
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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