‘It’s political’: Hong Kong commerce chief dismisses US congressional report urging rethink of ties
- Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau says local officials should speak up to clarify matter
- He insists that rule of law and freedoms in city have been maintained
Hong Kong’s commerce chief dismissed on Saturday a report urging a rethink of the city's special trading status with the United States as distinct from mainland China, insisting that the rule of law and a free economy persist locally.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah was responding to a report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which warned of Beijing’s “encroachment” on the city’s freedoms.
On a radio programme, Yau said that if Hong Kong had been “dragged into” a row, with the US being affected by China’s rise, then local officials had to speak up and clarify the matter.
In its report, the commission – which advises the US Congress – cited the recent unprecedented ban on the separatist Hong Kong National Party and the expulsion of veteran British journalist Victor Mallet, who moderated a talk by the group’s leader, Andy Chan Ho-tin.
It recommended that US lawmakers press the Department of Commerce and other American bodies to assess the country’s policy on exporting sensitive technology to Hong Kong, “as it relates to the US treatment of Hong Kong and China as separate customs areas”.
On Saturday Yau said: “This report is political in nature. Regarding the relationship between China and the US, of course the Americans will have some opinions since this is written from their point of view.
“But if it involves ‘one country, two systems’, and if there are some worries stemming from a misunderstanding, then we have the responsibility to clarify and lay out the facts.”
Yau was referring to the governing principle under which Beijing allows Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy.
Under the US-Hong Kong Policy Act, which was passed in 1992 in preparation for Hong Kong’s return from British to Chinese rule, the city is treated as a separate trading entity.
Yau said Hong Kong still maintained the one country, two systems policy and its freedoms in many areas, particularly in the rule of law, a free economy, human rights and openness.
He added that the world would not be spared the consequences of the ongoing US-China trade war, and that he expected the growth of Hong Kong’s economy in the fourth quarter to continue to slow down.