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An outspoken Hong Kong politician who advocates independence for the financial and trade hub wrote to Donald Trump, calling on the U.S. president to get China and Hong Kong expelled from the World Trade Organization.
Andy Chan Ho-tin, a member of the Hong Kong National Party, has been criticized by Chinese and Hong Kong authorities for his stance in favor of independence for his city, which they say will never happen. His party is under threat of a ban.
Chan's letter, which does not mention Trump by name, but is addressed to "Mr. President," follows a closely watched speech and press conference last week. In that, he accused China of treating the city as a colony, blasted local officials for enabling an erosion of local rights and autonomy since Chinese rule commenced in 1997 and called on the United States to extend its trade war with China to Hong Kong.
"We are most grateful to see that the US administration under your leadership has been determined in implementing its tariff and trade policies against China, which has abused its trade relationship with the U.S. for years," Chan said in the letter, dated Saturday.
He said that Hong Kong's separate membership in the WTO effectively means that Beijing has an extra seat and vote at the organization.
"This is obviously unfair and unjustifiable," said the letter, a copy of which was provided to CNBC by the Hong Kong National Party. Chan said in it that he had sent a previous one to the president in February last year.
"The Hong Kong government is by no means independent or autonomous in exercising its member rights, but has only given an extra arm for China to exert its influences and abuse its 'developing country' status under the WTO system," Chan said.
Gaining membership in the Geneva, Switzerland-based global trade body can take years. Hong Kong has been a member since 1995 and China entered the organization in 2001.
Chan's called for the U.S. to target Hong Kong as part of the trade conflict in the talk last week at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong, which Chinese and local officials tried to get cancelled. That drew sharp rebukes from authorities, but he continued that theme in the letter, calling on Trump to suspend Hong Kong's separate treatment under U.S. law, enshrined in the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.
"For the local Hong Kong citizens to be empowered and a genuinely autonomous Hong Kong to flourish, both China and the present regime of Hong Kong, who are the enemies of civilization and fundamental rights, have to be first knocked down," he said.
The Hong Kong government criticized Chan's letter, with the region's Commerce and Economic Development Bureau issuing a statement quoted in local media saying any individual or group calling for steps that would harm Hong Kong's interests "should be condemned."