Defence & Foreign Policy Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Commerce dept. slams pro-independence party’s call for Trump to axe US special treatment of Hong Kong

The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau has condemned pro-independence activist Andy Chan’s call for the US to suspend the differential treatment it affords to Hong Kong over China.

The Hong Kong National Party penned an open letter to US President Donald Trump on Saturday saying that the city had completely lost its autonomy.

Andy Chan

Andy Chan Ho-tin. File photo: Facebook/Hong Kong National Party.

Under the existing United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, Washington supports the democratisation of Hong Kong and human rights for its citizens. The country’s special policy towards the city – which differs to its policy towards China – is only justified if Hong Kong is “sufficiently autonomous.”

The HKNP cited actions of the Hong Kong and Chinese governments which it said indicated a “total loss of autonomy.” The letter made reference to the authorities’ attempts to pressure the Foreign Correspondents’ Club to drop Chan as a speaker last week.

“It is our sincere belief that a free Hong Kong without Chinese sovereignty is most effective to maintain this only common-law financial hub in East Asia with its function and value to the capitalist world, and to restore a mutually beneficial relationship between the United States and Hong Kong,” it said.

In full - the HKNP's letter to President Trump - click to view.

Dear Mr. President,
We are a pro-independence political party of Hong Kong and previously wrote to you by way of an open letter dated 9 February 2017.

In light of the recent actions taken by the Hong Kong and Chinese governments which we shall elaborate below, we write to invite you to:

(a) suspend the differential treatments between Hong Kong and China in terms of application of the laws of the United States pursuant to the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 (the “Policy Act”) by exercising your power under section 5722 of the Act; and

(b) push forward revocation of Hong Kong and China’s respective WTO memberships.

Actions of the Hong Kong and Chinese governments indicating total loss of Hong Kong’s autonomy

Hong Kong government’s stance towards the US tariff and trade policies against China

We are most grateful to see that the US administration under your leadership has been determined in implementing its tariff and trade policies against China, which has abused its trade relationship with the US for years. The wealth accumulated by China through such abuse has been proven to be harmful to the world of civilisation and human rights: Confucius Institutes and those Chinese Students and Scholars Associations established in various tertiary education institutions in the civilised world have long been funded by the Chinese government to export authoritarianism and suppress academic freedom outside China, in particular, voices in the academia which are supportive to the peoples of Tibet, Uyghur and Taiwan.

Tariff and trade policies to counter China’s unfair trade advantages are therefore beneficial to both the US and the other parts of the civilised world. However, the Hong Kong government, which is a mere puppet Chinese-colonial regime, has clearly sided with its colonial master in opposition to these just and proper policies. Its Chief Executive even wrote to Mr. Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce, in April 2018 to protest the plan to introduce tariffs on aluminium imports. A copy of the relevant official news article published by the Hong Kong government is enclosed for your reference.

Abuse of independent membership of puppet-Hong Kong in international bodies

You may notice from the aforesaid enclosed news article that the Hong Kong government relied on the WTO membership of Hong Kong to explain its opposition to the US tariff and trade policies against China. Taking advantage of the so-called “One Country, Two Systems”, Hong Kong remained its independent membership in WTO after the Transfer of Sovereignty. However, being a submissive puppet of its colonial master, the Hong Kong government is by no means independent or autonomous in exercising its member rights, but has only given an extra arm for China to exert its influences and abuse its “developing country” status under the WTO system.

The independent membership of puppet-Hong Kong in WTO means that China gains an additional seat and vote in negotiations and decision-makings inside the organisation. This is obviously unfair and unjustifiable.

Another recent example of such abuse by China is the cancellation by the East Asian Games Association of the 2019 East Asian Youth Games originally scheduled to be held in Taiwan. On 24 July 2018, the East Asian Games Association voted to strip Taiwan of the right to host the 2019 East Asian Youth Games. Membership of the East Asian Games Association consists of:

(a) China;

(b) Guam;

(c) Hong Kong;

(d) Japan;

(e) Macau;

(f) Mongolia;

(g) North Korea;

(h) South Korea; and

(i) Taiwan.

Both Hong Kong and Macau, whose sovereignties have been usurped by China, followed their coloniser to vote Taiwan down. With the independent membership of Hong Kong and Macau, China, being one sovereign state, has controlled three votes in the Association.

Both WTO and the East Asian Games Association are examples of how Hong Kong has lost its independence and autonomy in international bodies, and become a rubber-stamp of China for the communist regime to exert unjustified extra power in such bodies.

Attempt of Hong Kong and Chinese governments to pressurise the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club against my speaking at its lunch event

On 17 July 2018, the spokesperson of HKNP and I received letters from the Security Bureau of the colonial Hong Kong government, informing that they are considering to prohibit the operation of HKNP, on the alleged ground of national security. The so-called supporting evidence is merely public speech, articles, social media posts and lawful public activities of the party. Such consideration of a party-ban by the colonial government has stunned the whole society of Hong Kong, and caught the attention of international media.

In view of the wide attention caused by this freedom-infringing act of the colonial government, the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club (“FCC”) very kindly invited me to attend its lunch event on 14 August 2018 to deliver a speech in relation to Hong Kong nationalism.

However, the FCC immediately received pressure from both the Chinese government (in particular, the representatives of the PRC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong) and the colonial Hong Kong government against the invitation. These governments openly object the invitation, baselessly alleging it as “unlawful” for allowing me to promote Hong Kong independence publicly, in an attempt to force the FCC to cancel the lunch event. Upon FCC’s insistence on my invitation and hosting the event, the colonial Hong Kong government now even threatens to cancel the lease for FCC’s premises as retaliation.

The above actions of the Hong Kong and Chinese governments indicate a total loss of autonomy of the Hong Kong regime, and a fading away of fundamental freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of press in the city, rights supposed to be guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration dated 19 December 1984, which in turn sets out the bases of the special treatments given to Hong Kong by the United States under the Policy Act.

No basis to justify differential treatment between Hong Kong and China under the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992

As mentioned in our previous letter dated 9 February 2017, the Policy Act was made upon the assumption that the Sino-British Joint Declaration would be implemented, with democratisation achieved and human rights safeguarded in Hong Kong after its Transfer of Sovereignty.

With the loss of autonomy and protection to fundamental rights, there is no longer any basis for the United States to give Hong Kong those treatments under the Policy Act. Mr. President should exercise the power under section 5722 of the Act to issue an Executive Order suspending the differential treatments between Hong Kong and China in terms of application of the laws of the United States.

In particular, the suspension means that all the tariff and trade policies against China shall equally apply to Hong Kong. In consideration that China has been exploring ways to evade tariffs through the special status given to Hong Kong, application of the same tariff and trade policies to Hong Kong would also be the most effective measure against such evasion.

We acknowledge that there will be negative economic impacts on Hong Kong if it loses the special status given under the Policy Act. However, in view of total submission to its colonial master by the Hong Kong government at the expense of both its autonomy and the fundamental rights of its citizens, Hong Kong no longer deserves any such special status, and shall be treated as no different from the remaining parts of China in trade, diplomatic and other policies of the United States.

Revocation of Hong Kong and China’s respective WTO memberships

As mentioned in our previous letter dated 9 February 2017 and correctly pointed out by the administration of the United States under your leadership, it is a mistake to let China become a member of WTO. Among other offences, infringements of intellectual property rights by forced share and transfer of technology in China have seriously hurt the interests of the United States’ enterprises and citizens.

We therefore believe that revocation of China’s WTO membership is to the benefit of both the United States and the civilised world. The White House’s recent suggestion to kick China out of WTO therefore receives our full support.

In addition, as explained in paragraphs [*] above, the independent membership of Hong Kong has been abused by China to gain unfair and unjustifiable advantages in WTO. For this reason, the membership of Hong Kong should also be revocated. This is also in line with the cease of differential treatments between Hong Kong and China.

It may appear surprising that we invite you and the United States government under your presidency to adopt measures against the interest of Hong Kong. However, it is both China and the present Chinese-colonial regime of Hong Kong which would in fact suffer the most under the above suggested measures. For the local Hong Kong citizens to be empowered and a genuinely autonomous Hong Kong to flourish, both China and the present regime of Hong Kong, who are the enemies of civilisation and fundamental rights, have to be first knocked down. It is our sincere belief that a free Hong Kong without Chinese sovereignty is most effective to maintain this only common-law financial hub in East Asia with its function and value to the capitalist world, and to restore a mutually beneficial relationship between the United States and Hong Kong.

Most respectfully yours,

Chan Ho-tin,

Convenor, Hong Kong National Party

The party, which is facing a government ban, also asked Trump to push for the revocation of Hong Kong and China’s World Trade Organisation membership.

“[B]eing a submissive puppet of its colonial master, the Hong Kong government is by no means independent or autonomous in exercising its member rights, but has only given an extra arm for China to exert its influences and abuse its “developing country” status under the WTO system,” it said.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump. Photo: White House.

In response, the CEDB said that Hong Kong’s special status afforded by the Basic Law had made it into an international centre for trade and commerce – progress that is evident and hard to come by.

Any person or organisation advocating measures aimed to damage the city’s economy, trade and overall interests should be condemned, it said.

It added that, according to the Basic Law, Hong Kong was a separate customs area and can join international organisations including the WTO under the name “Hong Kong, China.” It also said the government would continue to maintain and strengthen trade between Hong Kong and the US.

Last year, the HKNP wrote an open letter to the US Consulate, as well as letters to Senator Marco Rubio and President Donald Trump, calling for the abolition of the city’s special status in American law.

As evidence of the “disappearance” of Hong Kong’s rule of law and judicial independence, HKNP cited successful appeals made by the Department of Justice for harsher sentences against 16 pro-democracy and land rights activists, as well as the disqualification of six democratically-elected lawmakers.

Commerce dept. slams pro-independence party's call for Trump to axe US special treatment of Hong Kong