Hong Kong Leader, Carrie Lam Warns U.S. Law will Hurt Business Confidence
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday U.S. legislation supporting protesters may damage business confidence in the financial hub, as she announced a fourth round of relief measures to boost the city’s battered economy.
Lam told reporters the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act signed into U.S. law last week was “wholly unnecessary”, as the former British colony grapples with its first recession in a decade.
The act requires the U.S. State Department to certify at least annually that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to justify favorable U.S. trading terms, and threatens sanctions for human rights violations.
“The impact currently is on confidence ... because corporates will be worried about the actions the U.S. government may take in the future after they review this legislation,” Lam said.
Lam did not specify what additional measures would be taken to boost economic activity, saying details would be announced in the near-term. The government has previously offered relief of about HK$21 billion ($2.7 billion) to support the economy, particularly the transport, tourism and retail sectors.
The unrest has hammered retail sales which fell by their steepest on record in October as protests scared off tourists and hit spending.
In more bad news for the economy, China on Monday banned U.S. military ships and aircraft from visiting Hong Kong - a rest and recreation stop for the U.S. Seventh Fleet - in retaliation for the U.S. legislation.
Lam said approvals for such port visits were a matter for China’s Foreign Ministry.
Lam has renewed her appeals for peace but her administration has failed to offer any concessions to the protest movement despite the election results.
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