New US law 'counterproductive'

Updated: 2019-11-29 07:36

By Luo Weiteng and Edith Lu in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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US businesses in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong business community reiterated their mounting concerns that the signing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law will have a chilling effect on US commercial interests in the Asian financial center and send negative signals around the world about the city's long-cherished advantages.

Foreign experts joined a chorus of criticism over the US' using Hong Kong as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations between the world's two largest economies.

New US law 'counterproductive'

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, one of the largest US chambers outside the US and the largest international chamber in the city, voiced its concern about "the possible unintended, counterproductive consequences of the bill, including on American business and its ability to continue exercising a strong positive influence in support of Hong Kong's traditional core values - in particular the sections addressing export controls and sanctions" in an emailed reply to China Daily on Thursday.

Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce Chairman Aron Harilela echoed the American chamber's sentiments. "It is regrettable that Hong Kong is being used as a pawn in the US-China trade war. The signing of the bill will undermine the international business community's confidence in Hong Kong and make investors think twice about establishing a presence here," he said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

He stressed that the city's long-cherished advantages, including its rule of law, independent judiciary, expertise, and status as the world's freest economy for 25 consecutive years, should dispel any doubts about Hong Kong and its autonomy.

John Ross, former director of Economic and Business Policy of London, said he believes the United States is seriously meddling in Hong Kong affairs and interfering in China's internal matters.

"The US' involvement in Hong Kong affairs is just a farce", Ross told China Daily on the phone. "The states don't have any belief that Hong Kong will secede from China. And I don't think they see it as an extremely serious matter."

US' propaganda

Well before Trump's signing of the legislation, Ross pointed out, the US was hypocritical and aggressively used the legislation as propaganda.

"The US is actively overturning democracies in several countries at the present time, especially in some Latin American countries such as Bolivia and Chile," Ross said.

"The ongoing trade talks between the world's two largest economies are much more serious issues for the States, as the drawn-out trade rows involve multi-stakeholders, including American farmers and companies."

He does not think the US' attitude to the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act will have any crippling impact on the trade talks so far.

Hong Kong businessman Allan Zeman said most politicians in the US are just using the bill to get votes.

"If you ask most of the senators or most people within the US government whether they know what the bill is all about, I guarantee you, many cannot answer. They are just jumping on the bandwagon," he told China Daily.

Zeman said he believes Hong Kong is not what the US currently cares about the most - instead, the settling of the trade deal comes first.

"Hong Kong, unfortunately, is just a passenger on the airplane and has no choice," he said.

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(HK Edition 11/29/2019 page4)