With implementation of the new draconian Security Law, the Communist Party of China (CCP) is putting Hong Kong’s hard-earned status as a global business hub at risk. By Lee Kok Leong, executive editor, Maritime Fairtrade
Immediately, there are crackdowns, arrests and overt use of force at intimidation. With these incidents still fresh in the world’s consciousness, at the recent United Nations General Assembly, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CCP, claimed that Beijing is for peace and democracy.
It is time the world recognizes the CCP for what it really is: a brutal, authoritarian and hypocritical communist regime bends on disrupting the established world order for its own political gains.
The watershed Security Law, passed in June, seriously undermined the territory’s status as a global trading and financial hub, as it results in social and political instability. Moreover, it is in contravention of the 1984 Sino-British legal agreement that guarantees Hong Kong’s autonomy until 2047.
So, by passing the law, General Secretary Xi is effectively telling the whole world he is prepared to do whatever it takes, however illegal and irrational, just to retain his grip on power.
The Security Law is vague and broad, thus virtually anything and anyone, even if they are not physically in Hong Kong, can be deemed a threat to national security. It applies to both people and companies. The Security Law is without accountability and transparency. It is what the CCP says it is. The consequences for the business community are grave.
The vagueness has created instability and uncertainty as no one knows what may constitute an offence and so, put them at risk of arrest, being moved to the mainland or deportation. The world has to wake up from its self-delusion to what the CCP is. If Xi is willing to put Hong Kong on the line for his own gains, what more will he do to investors and businesses that do not toe the party line?
No more special privileges for Hong Kong
In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 22 September, Xi urged the world to “join hands to uphold the values of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom shared by all of us.” Xi also said Beijing wants to “continue to work as a builder of global peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order.”
However, this speech is simply empty rhetoric as it is not supported by his actions. Beside Hong Kong, Xi is engaged in confrontation at Taiwan Strait, South China Sea, and at the disputed border with India in the Himalayan region, among others.
The US President, in response to the Security Law, has signed an executive order to end preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong. Hong Kong will be treated “the same as mainland China.” “No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies,” said the president.
Pessimistic about Hong Kong’s future
In a recent survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong regarding the new law, respondents said they were pessimistic about overall business prospects. Most were worried that the values and institutions which have contributed to Hong Kong’s past successes as a global financial center will diminish.
A majority of 63 percent was negative about the impact on Hong Kong’s business prospects. About four in 10 members are considering relocating from Hong Kong. The results are an indication of rising corporate fears over the sweeping new legislation.
The new law is a death knell for Hong Kong’s economic competitiveness, negatively affecting social and political stability, regulatory environment, availability of skilled professionals and capital, quality of life, and reputation, all of which are critical factors for a top trading and financial hub.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam has put the final nail in the coffin, by saying on 1 September, that there is no separation of powers, thus confirming that Hong Kong is now under authoritarian rule.
Having three branches of government, the executive, legislative and judicial, each with its own responsibilities, who check and balance each other, is a tenet of a free and competitive economy. History has shown, again and again, that a democratic society is the engine of economic growth, innovation and human progression.
Therefore, by ruling Hong Kong with an iron fist, Xi is driving away foreign businesses and investment, and putting the brake on economic progress.
Image credit: Yu Chun Christopher Wong / Shutterstock.com