In a significant development, Hong Kong’s justice secretary has showed the path on how a mainland Chinese law to counter foreign sanctions could be adopted in Hong Kong by amending it into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, pending a decision by the Chinese parliament.
Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng’s comments are the most direction official indication on how Hong Kong could embrace the mainland law, which was passed in June to counter foreign sanctions.
The development comes at a time when the EU and the US are increasing pressure on Beijing over its trade and technology practices.
Under China’s law, entities or individuals involved in making or implementing discriminatory measures against Chinese citizens or entities could be placed on a sanctions list by government departments within the Chinese government.
In an official blog Cheng wrote the “most natural and appropriate way” to introduce the anti-sanctions law into Hong Kong would be to add it to an annex of the Basic Law, or Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
Such a move would need to be approved by the National People’s Congress.
According to reports from the local media, such a decision would most likely see the light of day between Aug 17 to 20.
Critics have warned that doing so is likely to damage sentiments among foreign companies and undermine Hong Kong’s reputation as a global financial hub.
In 1997, Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty under a guarantee that it will have a high degree of freedoms and autonomy.
Last month, the Biden Administration issued an advisory not to traverse through Hong Kong after China imposed its national security law, under which foreign nationals, including a U.S. citizen, has already been arrested.
With Beijing reneging on its promise on Hong Kong, the U.S. government has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials.
Without specifically naming the United States directly, Cheng wrote that countermeasures were acceptable.
“Unilateral coercive measures are without a doubt at odds with the principle of non-intervention, unbecoming of any civilised nation,” wrote Cheng. “In the face of international illegal acts, a State is justified in deploying any countermeasures as a response.”
Incidentally, under China’s anti-foreign sanctions law, individuals could be denied entry into China or be expelled. Their assets within China may be seized or frozen. They could also be restricted from doing business with entities or people within China.