The US warns companies of the risk of doing business with Hong Kong as China cracks down on freedoms


The national flags of the USA and China fly in front of a building.

The Eng Koon | AFP via Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Biden government on Friday warned companies with offices in Hong Kong of far-reaching financial and regulatory risks as China continues to restrict political and economic freedoms in the area.

The nine-page Hong Kong Business Advisory – jointly published by the Departments of State, Finance, Trade and Homeland Security – warns that US firms in Hong Kong are exposed to a number of risks posed by China’s national security law.

The report states that “companies are exposed to risks in connection with electronic surveillance without an arrest warrant and the disclosure of data to authorities as well as“ restricted access to information ”.

“Beijing has damaged Hong Kong’s reputation for accountable, transparent governance and respect for individual freedoms and has broken its promise to keep Hong Kong’s high levels of autonomy unchanged for 50 years,” Foreign Minister Antony Blinken wrote in a statement.

“In light of Beijing’s decisions last year that stifled the democratic aspirations of the Hong Kong people, we are taking action. Today we are sending a clear message that the United States is resolutely on the side of the Hong Kong people, ”added the country’s top diplomat.

The Biden government also imposed US sanctions on seven Chinese officials for violating Hong Kong’s autonomy.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this week, the Biden government issued a warning to companies with investment ties to China’s Xinjiang Province, citing growing evidence of genocide and other human rights abuses in the country’s northwestern region.

Washington has openly criticized Beijing’s comprehensive national security law, passed in June 2020, aimed at restricting Hong Kong’s autonomy and banning critical literature about the Chinese Communist Party.

The then Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo described the measure as an “Orwellian move” and an attack “on the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong”.

Former President Donald Trump soon signed a law imposing sanctions on China in response to its interference with Hong Kong’s autonomy. He also signed an executive order ending the preferential treatment that Hong Kong has long enjoyed.

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“Hong Kong is now being treated like mainland China,” Trump said during a July 2020 speech from the White House rose garden.

“No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies,” said Trump. “Also, as you know, we are imposing massive tariffs and have imposed very high tariffs on China.”

China’s State Department fired back, saying Beijing would impose retaliatory sanctions on US people and businesses.