7th July 2022 – (Hong Kong) Hanscom Smith, the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong and Macao, attended a think tank event last night saying that Beijing’s moves in recent years have undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy and warned that it will only harm its own long-term interests. Smith attended the event of the think tank “Centre for International Strategic Studies” (CSIS) through video conferencing and said that the principle “one country, two systems” was a new and unproven concept at the beginning of the return of Hong Kong to mainland China, and the initial operation “seemed normal”, but in recent years China’s actions have been undermining the autonomy of Hong Kong, and the political environment in Hong Kong has changed.
Citing the U.S. Department of State’s “Hong Kong Policy Act” report in the past three years, he pointed out that Beijing has undermined Hong Kong’s democratic system, exerted unprecedented pressure on the judicial system. It has also affected academic, cultural and press freedom, and forced dozens of civil society groups to dissolve. “The consequences of these actions speak for themselves.”
He pointed out: “Hong Kong has become another mainland city, which is not good for anyone, especially China.” He believes that Hong Kong is unique in that it is the most international city in China, and its past success is based on a high degree of autonomy and compliance.
As promised in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, some actions by Beijing and the Hong Kong government in recent years will affect Hong Kong’s strong foundation built in the past, which will not only affect the citys external attractiveness, but also Beijing’s long-term interests.
“If the current situation persists, Hong Kong’s role as an international business and trade hub will continue to be affected.” Smith pointed out that if Hong Kong’s autonomy is destroyed, the problem of brain drain will become more serious, and some well-educated young people will look elsewhere for opportunities.
The “Dynamic zero-Covid” policy has resulted in many expatriates leaving the city. His last plea to China was, “Our key message is simple: let Hong Kong be Hong Kong.”