Jul 16, 2021 - World

White House warns U.S. firms about doing business in Hong Kong

President Biden during a news conference in the White House on July 15.

President Biden during a news conference in the White House on July 15. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden administration warned U.S. businesses on Friday about the risks of doing business in Hong Kong amid China's crackdown on political and economic freedoms once enjoyed in the region.

Why it matters: The new advisory, along with new sanctions against Chinese officials, will likely heighten tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The departments of State, Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security alerted firms to the "growing risks" of doing business in the city, where a shifting legal landscape "could adversely affect businesses and individuals operating in Hong Kong."

  • "As a result of these changes, they should be aware of potential reputational, regulatory, financial, and, in certain instances, legal risks associated with their Hong Kong operations," the departments said.
  • The departments used the former pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, as an example of the current dangers of doing business in the city. In the year since China imposed a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong, police arrested several executives of the paper and recently forced its closure.
  • The Treasury Department announced the new sanctions against Chen Dong, Yang Jianping, Qiu Hong, Lu Xinning, Tan Tieniu, He Jing, and Yin Zonghua, all liaisons for the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong, for violating the 2020 Hong Kong Autonomy Act.

What they're saying: In a statement on Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the new actions "a clear message that the United States resolutely stands with Hong Kongers."

  • "Beijing has chipped away at Hong Kong’s reputation of accountable, transparent governance and respect for individual freedoms, and has broken its promise to leave Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy unchanged for 50 years," he said.
  • "In the face of Beijing’s decisions over the past year that have stifled the democratic aspirations of people in Hong Kong, we are taking action."

The big picture: Federal agencies this week warned U.S. businesses that they run a "high risk" of violating U.S. laws on forced labor if they have supply chains and investments in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, where the Chinese government is carrying out a genocide against Uyghurs Muslims and other minorities.

Go deeper: China accuses Biden administration of hurting global trade

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