US firms concerned as tensions simmer in Hong Kong over looming legislation
A survey of US businesses revealed deep fears for the future of their operations in Hong Kong if China imposes national security legislation that critics say could curb the financial centre’s freedoms and fuel ongoing protests. Contributing to simmering anti-government tensions, Hong Kong lawmakers are set to resume a debate over a controversial bill that would criminalise disrespect of China’s national anthem, following scuffles in the legislature in recent weeks.
The survey conducted for the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) showed 30 per cent of respondents were “moderately” concerned and 53.3 per cent were “very concerned” about the laws, which aim to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong. About 60 per cent thought the legislation would harm their business operations, citing concerns about ambiguity in scope and enforcement, erosion of autonomy, talent drain, Hong Kong’s international status, social unrest and the independence of the justice system among others. A third said they were considering moving capital, assets or business operations out of the semi-autonomous city, while 38 per cent said they were personally considering moving out of Hong Kong. The survey conducted on June 1-2 received responses from 180 or 15 per cent of Amcham’s members.