China shock: US businesses fear impact of controversial Chinese laws on Hong Kong

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Originally published by Express on June 3, 2020

Politicians in the region are due to resume a debate today on a bill which could, among other things, make it illegal to disrespect China’s national anthem. A survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) showed that over 53 percent of respondents were “very concerned” about the potential Hong Kong legislature, according to Reuters.

The survey was conducted at the start of this month and received 180 responses from Amcham members – roughly 15 percent of all members, Reuters adds.

Around 60 percent thought the laws would harm the operations of their businesses through issues such as Hong Kong’s status internationally and social unrest.

And a third reportedly said they were considering moving their business operations or some aspects thereof out of Hong Kong.

China has already approved other controversial national security laws for Hong Kong towards the end of last month, in the face of protests that have been simmering throughout the region for the past year.

The Guardian reports that the legislation would allow “national security agencies”, which could potentially mean Chinese security forces, to operate in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is a former British colony that became a special administrative region of China in 1997.

But Hong Kong residents have been severely critical of any moves by China to increase its governance of the region.

The Guardian adds that there are concerns that the new legislation will fuel further unrest in the city.

Indeed, pro-democracy protests have already restarted after the Covid-19 pandemic saw a period of quiet.

Frances Eve, deputy director of research at Chinese Human Rights Defenders , told the Guardian that Beijing is “imposing a draconian law which can be used to silence dissent in Hong Kong”.

The situation in Hong Kong has prompted international criticism, with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying that Britain would relax its immigration rules for some Hong Kong residents if the laws went ahead.

The BBC reports that around 350,000 Hong Kong residents currently have a British National Overseas (BNO) passport – which was granted to all Hong Kong citizens born before the region was handed over to China in 1997 – but many more are eligible.

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