Beijing strongly supports Hong Kong special administrative region’s status as a separate customs territory, and any unilateral measures against the Chinese city using US domestic law, conform neither to WTO rules nor the interests of the US, said the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Thursday.
Analysts said that the US has a greater interest in maintaining the SAR as a separate customs territory. Hong Kong is one of the few regions with which the US runs a trade surplus.
US goods and services trade with Hong Kong totaled an estimated $66.9 billion in 2018, and the trade surplus with Hong Kong was $33.4 billion, according to data from the Office of the US Trade Representative.
MOFCOM hit back at the US government’s threat to strip Hong Kong’s special customs status, saying the legal basis for Hong Kong’s status as a separate customs territory from China’s Chinese mainland is derived from a WTO agreement, and is recognized by all WTO members and confirmed by the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, the ministry said.
US president Donald Trump said his administration “will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory” from the rest of China on May 29, during a press conference at the White House.
“Such statements from the US are not surprising. Last year’s chaos in Hong Kong was apparently fermented by the US behind the scenes, which was a series of efforts to combat China’s rise, including buck-passing on China since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic this year,” Tian Yun, vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association, told the Global Times on Thursday.
Tian added that Washington has aspired to muddy the waters of Hong Kong so as to move away international concerns about US’ current domestic racial strife, caused by the brutal death of black man George Floyd.
“China will unswervingly implement the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, oppose external interference in Hong Kong affairs, and firmly support Hong Kong in maintaining its status as a separate customs territory and in consolidating and elevating its status as an international financial, trade and shipping center,” said MOFCOM spokesperson Gao Feng.
Gao added that the national security legislation for Hong Kong SAR will not affect Hong Kong’s autonomy and its residents shall continue to enjoy their rights and freedoms. The law does not damage the legitimate interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong.
“The law will be conducive to maintaining Hong Kong’s business and investment environment, and to maintaining long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong,” Gao said.
Tian also said that Hong Kong’s position as an international financial, trade and shipping center will not be shaken in the short term.
“Hong Kong is backed by the market of the world’s second-largest economy. For all the money and companies that want to enter the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong remains the best springboard. The central government’s support for Hong Kong will never change,” Tian noted.