Four Cabinet agencies — the departments of state, treasury, commerce and homeland security — released the nine-page advisory that alerts companies about the shifting legal landscape in Hong Kong and the possibility that engaging with Hong Kong business could incur reputational and legal damages.
At the same time, Treasury announced sanctions against seven Chinese officials for violating the terms of the 2020 Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which calls for asset freezes and other penalties against those who participate in the crackdown.
“Businesses, individuals, and other persons, including academic institutions, research service providers, and investors that operate in Hong Kong, or have exposure to sanctioned individuals or entities, should be aware of changes to Hong Kong’s laws and regulations,” said the notice, which is titled “Risks and Considerations for Businesses Operating in Hong Kong.”
“This new legal landscape ... could adversely affect businesses and individuals operating in Hong Kong. As a result of these changes, they should be aware of potential reputational, regulatory, financial, and, in certain instances, legal risks associated with their Hong Kong operations,” it said.
China’s Foreign Ministry branch in Hong Kong said new US sanctions on Chinese officials and its updated business advisory on the city are “extremely rude” and “extremely unreasonable” bullying acts with “despicable intention.”
A spokesperson for the Commissioner of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong in a statement late on Friday strongly condemned the US actions, saying they were blatant interference in Hong Kong and China’s internal affairs.
Hong Kong’s government responded with a statement calling the US advisory “totally ridiculous and unfounded fear-mongering” driven by ideology. “The main victims of this latest fallout will sadly be those US businesses and US citizens who have taken Hong Kong as their home,” the statement said.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, meanwhile, responded to the advisory by acknowledging the business environment “is more complex and challenging” but saying that it would continue its work.
“We are here to support our members to navigate those challenges and risks while also capturing the opportunities of doing business in this region,” it said in a statement.