New HK laws won’t harm investors: China

Updated 24 May, 2020


HONG KONG: People cross a road in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay on Saturday.—AFP
HONG KONG: People cross a road in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay on Saturday.—AFP

HONG KONG: China’s foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong dismissed concerns that its proposed national security laws for the city would harm foreign investors, hitting back at “meddling” countries as Beijing’s ties with Washington soured further.

The security legislation, which could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in Hong Kong, has sent chills through the business and diplomatic communities, spooked financial markets and escalated geopolitical tensions.

US government officials have said the legislation would end the Chinese-ruled city’s autonomy and would be bad for both Hong Kong’s and China’s economies. They said it could jeopardise the territory’s special status in US law, which has helped it maintain its position as a global financial centre.

Hong Kong is caught in the cross-hairs of a Beijing-Washington conflict developing on many fronts. After trade disputes and reciprocal accusations over the source and handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Washington on Friday accused the Chinese government of making it impossible for US airlines to resume service to China.

Britain, Australia and Canada expressed “deep concern” in a joint statement about the proposed security laws which they said would undermine the “one country, two systems” principle agreed when Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Bankers and headhunters said it could lead to money and talent leaving the city. Hong Kong stocks slumped 5.6 per cent on Friday, and sent chills through global markets.

Beijing’s move comes after pro-democracy protests in 2019 plunged Hong Kong into its biggest political crisis since the handover. Communist authorities see the protests as a security threat and blame the West for fomenting unrest.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2020