In a harsh rebuke to China’s tightening authoritarian grip, a brand new U.S. congressional report has referred to as for sanctions in opposition to Hong Kong judges and expanded efforts to guard emigrants’ pension funds.
The annual report from the Congressional-Government Fee on China (CECC) on Tuesday recommends Congress-authorized sanctions on members of Hong Kong’s judiciary, together with overseas nationals serving on town’s Court docket of Last Enchantment. It additionally urges motion to forestall U.S. monetary establishments from cooperating with Hong Kong authorities searching for to disclaim departing Hong Kongers entry to their retirement financial savings.
Restrictions on MPF withdrawal
Commenting on the state of affairs of Hong Kong immigrants being denied entry to their MPF (Obligatory Provident Fund) deposits, the CECC says it believes the follow is the Hong Kong authorities’s manner of punishing Hong Kong individuals who have emigrated abroad through the use of BNO, or British Nationwide (Abroad), standing after the Nationwide Safety Act got here into impact.
This has resulted in some 90,000 BNO holders being denied entry to their MPF deposits, in keeping with the report.
The CECC cited the U.S.-based Prudential Group and the U.Ok.-based Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Company (HSBC) for refusing to permit Hong Kong residents to withdraw their MPF deposits after emigrating abroad.
Underneath the Hong Kong Autonomy Act handed in 2020, the U.S. Division of State is required to submit an annual report back to Congress on the standing of Hong Kong. As such, the CECC has advisable that Congress ought to direct the Division of State to incorporate within the annual report info on the Hong Kong authorities’s restriction on the withdrawal of MPF by Hong Kong residents overseas.
The CECC believes that the authorities could take into account imposing sanctions on these concerned in proscribing the liberty of immigration. It additionally advisable that Congress take additional steps to forestall U.S. monetary establishments concerned within the administration of Hong Kong individuals’s funds from complying with the Hong Kong authorities’s requests to help within the infringement of immigration freedoms and to withhold lawfully earned pensions from these concerned.
Simon Lee, senior lecturer on the Faculty of Accountancy of the Chinese language College of Hong Kong, mentioned the Hong Kong authorities not solely lacks political advisers, but additionally a grasp of the worldwide diplomatic battle.
“Now the MPF challenge has escalated to the U.S. Congress, complicating the state of affairs. It not solely embarrasses the central authorities, but additionally impacts the free move of funds in Hong Kong and reduces investor confidence,” Lee instructed Radio Free Asia Cantonese on Nov. 15.
“I believe it’s foolish to make use of all kinds of again doorways to limit MPF withdrawals. If uncertain, it’s higher to not do something,” he mentioned.
As an alternative, Lee advised that the native authorities ought to calm down the restrictions to avert any potential sanctions, and ship out constructive alerts that may assist keep Hong Kong’s standing as a global monetary middle.
The CECC additionally recommends that Congress amend the Hong Kong Autonomy Act to incorporate in its annual report an evaluation of Hong Kong’s judicial independence, reflecting faithfully whether or not town’s chief government, or some other physique performing on behalf of the Chinese language authorities, has exerted undue affect on its judicial system in a manner that infringes on the precise to a good and impartial trial assured by the Primary Regulation.
Primarily based on the evaluation outcomes, Congress could impose sanctions on people serving within the Hong Kong judiciary, together with overseas judges serving within the Hong Kong Court docket of Last Enchantment, the report famous.
Samuel Bickett, an American lawyer who used to work in Hong Kong, instructed RFA Cantonese that Hong Kong not had judicial independence and the rule of legislation to talk of, and that each choose and prosecutor concerned in trials beneath the Nationwide Safety Act had a job to play in undermining town’s autonomy.
“I believe it’s an indication that completely different elements of the U.S. authorities, from Congress to the manager department, have taken word of the necessity for additional sanctions [against Hong Kong] and the failure of the U.S. authorities to implement them over the previous few years,” Bickett mentioned.
“It’s signal that the Hong Kong 47 case, the Stand Information case, the Jimmy Lai trial, all of those circumstances are going to get the eye of the USA and add momentum to the actions of the U.S. Congress and the president.”
The CECC was established by the U.S. Congress in 2000 to review, report and make suggestions on how the U.S.-China commerce and financial relationship impacts U.S. nationwide safety.
Up to now, Congress launched payments to sanction Hong Kong judges.
Early this month, a bipartisan group of Congress members co-sponsored a invoice on sanctions in opposition to Hong Kong officers – The Hong Kong Sanctions Act – which entails a listing of 49 individuals and is the primary time that quite a lot of Hong Kong Nationwide Safety Act judges and prosecutors are named within the invoice.
Translated by RFA Workers. Edited by Mike Firn and Elaine Chan.