The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AmCham HK) has called upon the Hong Kong government, and Chief Executive Carrie Lam to restore business confidence by completely dropping the HK governments proposed extradition, which has caused gigantic protests and created a negative business atmosphere.
Tara Joseph, President of AmCham Hong Kong, said in an interview with the South China Morning Post that Lam needed to make it clear that the bill had been dropped and not just delayed or tabled for further discussion.
Joseph said that she believes that Hong Kong’s reputation as a global business hub had been damaged as a result of the bill.
Although HK chief executive Lam has apologized for the governments poor handling of the bill and the protests that have paralyzed much of the city, Lam has refused to completely withdrawn the bill, or step down as the chief executive as protesters have demanded.
The opposition by local Hong Kong citizens to the extradition bill as well as Lam’s stance on protesters resulted in 2 million people demonstrating on the streets on Sunday. The opposition and citizen turnout against the bill has been historic, given Hong Kong’s population size of only 7.4 million people.
AmCham’s Joseph said, “The real work is to restore business confidence as soon as possible, which means being transparent, open and communicative. That has been something really lacking and something we would hope to see as a result of this.”
AmCham has long denounced the proposed extradition bill, which would allow the transfer of both Hong Kong and international suspects to mainland China.
Opponents of the extradition legislation believe that it will allow for prosecution of citizens who believe in free speech and oppose mainland Chinese regulations. AmCham HK has expressed concern for Hong Kong’s autonomy as set out in the “one country, two systems” directive.
Joseph was also critical of the HK government and said that, “It has wasted a lot of time. We have just got off the ground to talk about the real possibilities of the Greater Bay Area plan and other initiatives, free-trade acts, etc.”
The Greater Bay Area is a plan presented by Beijing to link Hong Kong and Macau with nine mainland cities to create an economic powerhouse.
Joseph also discussed the ongoing U.S.–China trade dispute and Beijing’s statement that the US should stay out of the internal affairs of Hong Kong and China and she said it would be a “real shame” if Hong Kong became a pawn in the ongoing US-China trade war.
Joseph has just returned to Hong Kong from the U.S. and said that, “Instead of (HK) becoming a pawn, it should become an exception, a model, a place people can meet, a place where mutual business can be done. That is something we learned in Washington: people understand the value of Hong Kong – and being reminded of that value and not letting it slip under the bus of the US-China trade war. It’s really important.”