Would Hong Kong be ‘destroyed’ by US bill?

After another weekend of mayhem in Hong Kong, during which the Central MTR station was set on fire, it was heartwarming to see schoolkids today lined up, holding hands, as a reminder that most of Hong Kong’s protesters are peaceful. Junius Ho, legislator and apparent supporter of the White Shirts, may not like it, but if this is the way all the protests can be held, Hong Kong has a better future ahead.

The same might be said of the protesters who marched to the US Consulate in Garden Road on Saturday: their intentions were noble, and it wasn’t them who set the Central MTR station on fire. However, the road to hell is paved with noble intentions, and they were calling for action that might result in the “death knell of Hong Kong”. At least, this is the opinion of a credible source: president of the National Committee on US-China Relations, former diplomat (and banker in Hong Kong), Stephen Orlins.

According to an SCMP report, Orlins says that if the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is passed, and the US uses it to revoke the city’s special economic status,  the consequences would be catastrophic. He doesn’t say exactly why, but it is fair to assume his reasoning is the same as hedge fund manager Kyle Bass: that US financial institutions would no longer trade through Hong Kong with China, which would destroy the city’s raison d’ etre.

But would it, really? We would like feedback from readers about this worst-case scenario. Please hit the reply button here or email us at editor@greaterbayinsight.com.

There is another way that Hong Kong’s position as an IFC could be severely jeopardised, however, and this doesn’t require speculation. If the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) were to put Hong Kong on a blacklist, that would prevent most of the world’s financial institutions, not just Americans, from trading through Hong Kong’s financial system. Which is why those alert people at the American Chamber of Commerce were quick to note the publication last week of the FATF’s latest review of Hong Kong.

You will never guess what it says. No, really. 

It says Hong Kong needs to do more in its arrangements with other jurisdictions to fight money-laundering and terrorist financing. (Like, perhaps, have an extradition treaty with the mainland?)

Amcham’s newsletter writers lay it out better than we can. Or you can download the report yourself.

Tell us what you think