30th November 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has issued a strong condemnation against the United States (U.S.) House Foreign Affairs Committee for the passing of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office Certification Act. The HKSAR Government expressed its deep concern regarding the Committee’s disregard for the status of the HKSAR under the “one country, two systems” principle, as well as its malicious slandering of the just and legitimate objectives of the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL). The Act also interferes grossly in the affairs of Hong Kong and undermines the proper protection of human rights and the rule of law by the HKSAR Government.
The HKSAR Government asserts that the Act is factually incorrect and serves political objectives by smearing and attacking the work of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices (ETOs) in the U.S. These ETOs play a crucial role in promoting mutually beneficial economic and trade relations, as well as cultural exchanges between Hong Kong and the U.S. The Act misleadingly aims to remove privileges, exemptions, and immunities enjoyed by the ETOs, and even threatens their closure. The HKSAR Government strongly condemned these attempts to damage trade relations for individual political interests and urged the U.S. to abide by international norms, refrain from political smears and attacks on the HKSAR, and stop interfering in Hong Kong matters.
Under the “one country, two systems” principle, the HKSAR Government has been establishing and maintaining economic and trade relations worldwide. In accordance with Article 156 of the Basic Law and host country legislation, the HKSAR has set up 14 overseas ETOs as official representatives of the HKSAR. This includes three ETOs in the U.S.,located in Washington DC, New York, and San Francisco.
The ETOs in these respective jurisdictions maintain close ties with various stakeholders, including government officials, businesses, think tanks, and sectors contributing to trade, investment, arts, and culture. The smooth operation of these ETOs strengthens cooperation between Hong Kong and the US in different areas and yields mutual benefits.
It is important to note that the U.S. has enjoyed significant economic benefits from Hong Kong. Over the past decade, the US has had a trade surplus of US$284.9 billion with Hong Kong, the largest among its global trading partners. Moreover, more than 1,200 US companies have established businesses in Hong Kong. By undermining the mutually beneficial relations between Hong Kong and the US, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office Certification Act could ultimately harm the interests of the US and its companies.
Despite these challenges, the three HKSAR ETOs in the U.S. remain committed to promoting Hong Kong’s unique advantages and sharing positive stories about the region. When necessary, they will refute erroneous reports and clarify misconceptions, fostering economic and trade relations, as well as cooperation between Hong Kong and the U.S. on a mutually beneficial basis.
The HKSAR Government emphasises that it is an integral part of the People’s Republic of China, and the enactment of the NSL aims to strengthen the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the region. The government is resolute in implementing the NSL to prevent, suppress, and punish acts and activities that endanger national security.
Furthermore, the HKSAR Government firmly safeguards the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents as protected by law. Since Hong Kong’s return to China, the human rights of its residents have been protected by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the Basic Law. Hong Kong residents enjoy rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, and other relevant laws. The NSL explicitly states that human rights shall be respected and protected while safeguarding national security in the HKSAR.
The legal system in the HKSAR is robust and transparent. The Basic Law guarantees the continued practice of the common law system, the independence of the judiciary, and the non-interference in the exercise of judicial power. The power of final adjudication is vested in the HKSAR Court of Final Appeal, which includes eminent jurists from other common law jurisdictions. This maintains a high level of confidence in the region’s legal system while fostering strong links with other common law jurisdictions.