US Act a blow to business confidence, Carrie Lam says

Local | 3 Dec 2019 11:52 am

The Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, said that the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in Washington has created "an unstable environment" in Hong Kong, affecting business confidence, RTHK reports.

The bipartisan bill was signed into law by US President Donald Trump last week, in an apparent move to support the pro-democracy protesters.

The Act requires the US president to annually review Hong Kong's favorable trade status and threatens to revoke this if freedoms are undermined.

Speaking ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam said the government strongly objects to the Act, saying it's unnecessary and unjustifiable.

Lam said the move is a clear interference in Hong Kong's internal affairs, adding that the human rights of Hongkongers have been protected by the Basic Law.

She also questioned claims that people in Hong Kong feel their rights are being infringed upon, saying they still enjoy press freedom, religious freedom and freedom of assembly.

Lam added that the exact impact of the Act depends on what US authorities do at their annual reviews, and this uncertainty has created "an unstable environment" in Hong Kong. She said business confidence has been hit because firms worry about what Washington will do.

She said some major chambers are also opposed to the Act, and some US companies think it has harmed their businesses.

As for Beijing's latest punitive measures against the United States, Lam said Hong Kong will cooperate as usual with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over sanctions against some NGOs and the suspension of US warship visits to Hong Kong.

Lam also said the government will soon introduce a fourth round of relief measures to help people cope with the economic downturn. She said she expects the unemployment rate to increase further, after retail sales suffered the largest drop on record in October.

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