Politics

The U.S. will warn companies about Hong Kong's 'deteriorating' situation, Biden says

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Key Points
  • President Joe Biden said his administration will issue an advisory to warn American companies about the risks of doing business in Hong Kong.
  • "The situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating. And the Chinese government is not keeping its commitment that it made how it would deal ... with Hong Kong," Biden said.
  • The advisory is expected to be issued Friday.
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U.S. warns companies that the Hong Kong situation is 'deteriorating'

President Joe Biden said his administration will issue an advisory to warn American companies about the risks of doing business in Hong Kong as China tightens its hold on the semi-autonomous region.

"The situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating. And the Chinese government is not keeping its commitment that it made how it would deal ... with Hong Kong," Biden said at a Thursday news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"And so it is more of an advisory as to what may happen in ... Hong Kong. It's as simple as that and as complicated as that," he added, according to a White House transcript of his remarks.

Several news outlets reported that the advisory will be issued Friday. The business advisory could come alongside U.S. sanctions on seven Chinese officials for cracking down on democracy in Hong Kong, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources.

The situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating. And the Chinese government is not keeping its commitment that it made how it would deal ... with Hong Kong.
President Joe Biden

Hong Kong, a major business hub in Asia, has become a contentious issue in U.S.-China relations, which have been shaky since a dispute over trade tariffs, competition on technology and the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The city is a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997. It is governed under a "one country, two systems" framework that promises a "high degree of autonomy" to Hong Kong.

Concerns about national security law

The U.S. — and other countries including the U.K. — criticized China for undermining Hong Kong's autonomy.

Beijing has enacted a controversial national security law in Hong Kong and changed the territory's electoral system. Critics say those changes curtail personal freedoms and hold back pro-democracy politicians.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that the national security law "continues to undermine" the rule of law in Hong Kong that a healthy business community relies on.

"As a general matter, we seek to ensure that businesses can operate in a stable, predictable, and fair regulatory environments around the world," Price said at a press briefing when asked about the business advisory on Hong Kong.

"And rule of law risks that were formerly limited to mainland China are now increasingly a concern in Hong Kong. That's of great concern to us. It is of great concern to the American business community. It's of great concern to the international business community," he added.

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Implementation of the national security law last year followed months of pro-democracy protests that sometimes turned violent. Chinese officials and state media often said "external forces" were behind the Hong Kong protests.

Beijing said the law is aimed at prohibiting secession, subversion of state power, terrorism activities and foreign interference.

More than 100 people were arrested under the law within the first year of its implementation — many of them democratic politicians, activists, journalists and students, Reuters reported last month. Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was forced to shut down after authorities froze the company's assets under the law, leaving it with little resources to sustain operations.