A majority of U.S. companies in Hong Kong surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) are concerned about the sweeping new national security law in the global financial hub, with a third looking to move assets or business longer-term. The legislation, which punishes secession subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, has further strained relations between the United States and China. The Amcham survey, published on Monday and to which 183 or 15% of its members responded on July 6-9, showed 36.6% of respondents were “somewhat” concerned and 51% were “extremely concerned” about the legislation.
More than two-thirds of the respondents were more concerned than a month ago, when the full details of the law, which came into force just before the anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, were unveiled. The legislation, which sees a Chinese intelligence agency openly operating in the city for the first time and gives police and mainland agents broad powers beyond the scrutiny of courts, raises a broad spectrum of worries for U.S. companies. Some 65% were concerned about the “ambiguity in its scope and enforcement” and roughly 61% were concerned about the independence of Hong Kong’s judicial system. About half were concerned about the city’s status as a global finance center and the erosion of the high degree of autonomy it was promised 23 years ago.