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Thursday, Feb 22, 2024

Hong Kong promotional video focus of China panel’s first inquiry

Hong Kong promotional video focus of China panel’s first inquiry

The chair of a new congressional panel scrutinizing China asked the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong to clarify its position on the city’s national security law after its leader appeared in a video promoting business opportunities in the former British colony.
The video highlights the benefits of locating operations in Hong Kong, including dining and entertainment opportunities and calls the city “safe” and “incredibly attractive.” At one point, Anne Kerr, the chair of the British chamber, says the city has a “sound legal system.”

Representative Mike Gallagher singled out the phrase as something that runs counter to the official US position on a 2020 national security law critics say has led to a crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations.

“Since the passage of the National Security Law, Beijing has dismantled what remained of Hong Kong’s democratic institutions, jailed and disappeared dissidents, and violated its international obligations,” Gallagher wrote in a letter to Geoffrey Siebengartner, the chairman of the American chamber.

The letter marked Gallagher’s first inquiry as chair of the committee. He wrote that the US government has determined that the passage of the law has eroded the rights and freedoms promised by the government of China under the 1984 declaration and highlights the recent trial of 47 pro-democracy advocates.

AmCham Hong Kong and the State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican, wrote that Siebengartner’s appearance in the promotional video could be interpreted as a quiet reversal of the official US position on the matter since the chamber is closely associated with the US government in the city.

He asked that the chamber clarify its position on the national security law by answering six questions, including whether the chamber believes that the national security law is consistent with the “rule of law.” He requested responses by Feb. 27.

Gallagher was recently appointed the chair of the newly created Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. He said in a previous interview that the committee will be examining US investments in China where they run counter to national security interests or US policies on human rights and other issues.

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