The U.S. government issued a Hong Kong Business Warning for the first time, reminding U.S. companies to be alert to the risks caused by the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Act. Washington also announced sanctions against seven deputy directors of the Hong Kong Central Liaison Office. Beijing and Hong Kong then quickly hit back.
On July 16, the .US. Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, and Homeland Security jointly issued a Hong Kong business advisory, “Risks and Considerations for Businesses Operating in Hong Kong.” It warned the U.S. companies operating in Hong Kong that they are subject to the laws of Hong Kong, including the National Security Law. So far, some foreign nationals have been arrested, including one U.S. citizen.
The advisory reminded companies that those operating in Hong Kong could “face the risks associated with electronic surveillance without warrants and the surrender of data to the authorities.” It stated that, “individuals and entities should be aware of the potential consequences of certain types of engagement with sanctioned individuals or entities” and warned them that, “Businesses operating in Hong Kong may face heightened risks and uncertainty related to retaliation from the PRC (People’s Republic of China) against companies that comply with sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries, including through enforcement of the Countering Foreign Sanctions Law.”
At the same time, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against the seven deputy directors of the Liaison Office in Hong Kong and added them to the Treasury’s “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List.” Earlier, the U.S. had announced sanctions against 11 Chinese and Hong Kong officials, including Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Liaison Office Director Luo Huining, for damaging Hong Kong’s autonomy. The assets of those on the sanctions list have been frozen.
In the statement that Secretary of State Blinken issued, he stated, “I am committed to continuing to work with Congress and our allies and partners around the world to stand with the people in Hong Kong against [China’s] egregious policies and actions. … We will continue to call on the PRC to abide by its international obligations and commitments; to cease its dismantling of Hong Kong’s democratic institutions, autonomy, and rule of law; to release immediately and drop all charges against individuals unjustly detained in Hong Kong; and to respect the human rights of all individuals in Hong Kong.”
The Liaison Office of the Central Committee of Hong Kong countered with a statement calling the U.S. sanctions a piece of wastepaper and an attempt to disrupt Hong Kong’s economic growth after its political failure. The statement also emphasized: “The sanctions imposed by the United States on our officials have no meaning other than making us despise those politicians and encourage us to fight for our national interests.”
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Regional Government also issued statements calling the sanctions bully’ behavior which violates international laws and interferes with China’s domestic affairs. Chinese official media followed suit and published a series of anti-U.S. commentaries.
Source: Deutsche Welle, July 17, 2021