May 26, 2020 / 12:02 PM / a month ago

U.S. Chamber urges China to preserve Hong Kong's autonomy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said on Tuesday it was deeply concerned that China’s proposed national security legislation on Hong Kong could undermine its autonomy under the “one country, two systems” framework, and urged Beijing to de-escalate the situation.

In a statement, the largest U.S. business group said it would be “a serious mistake” to jeopardize Hong Kong’s special status, which was fundamental to its role as an attractive investment destination and financial hub.

It also urged the U.S. government to maintain constructive ties with Hong Kong, and said far-reaching changes to Hong Kong’s status as a separate territory under U.S. law would have serious implications for U.S. businesses that operate there.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has proposed a security law that would reduce Hong Kong’s separate legal status, a move that business leaders and diplomats say could mark a turning point for China’s freest city. It is expected to be discussed by China’s National People’s Congress and approved on Thursday.

The U.S. Chamber, which represents U.S. companies with a large presence and long-standing interests in both Hong Kong and China, urged Beijing to peacefully defuse the situation.

“It would be a serious mistake on many levels to jeopardize Hong Kong’s special status, which is fundamental to its role as an attractive investment destination and international financial hub,” the group said.

It urged the Trump administration to continue to prioritize maintenance of a positive and constructive relationship between the United States and Hong Kong.

Revising Hong Kong’s status under U.S. law as a separate territory would have “serious implications for Hong Kong and for U.S. business, particularly those with business operations located there who exercise a positive influence in favor of Hong Kong’s core values,” it said.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Steve Orlofsky

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