China Announces New Law Regarding Hong Kong’s Autonomy

China is taking additional measures to bring Hong Kong under its control in a move that’s prompted a global response and will likely have much larger impacts for workforce mobility.

Recent developments regarding the autonomy of Hong Kong have the world watching for what comes next. On 21 May, China announced its intention to impose a national security law that would increase its control over Hong Kong. On 28 May, China's National People's Congress voted to draft the legislation and issued statements articulating the country’s decision. Worldwide ERC® is monitoring these developments, which has elicited responses from many global leaders.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed over to China in 1997 through the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984. At the heart of this handover was a “one country, two systems” framework that would give Hong Kong a certain level of autonomy despite its overall control under China. Hong Kong’s Basic Law allows China to impose certain laws on Hong Kong without going through its legislature, enabling such sweeping measures over Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has attempted to retain its independence. This time last year, protests broke out in Hong Kong regarding a Hong Kong extradition bill that would allow suspected political dissenters or critics of China to face trial and uncertain outcomes in China. This most recent legislation would ban acts of subversion, secession and terrorism, likely prompted by the protests ongoing since last year.

The governments of the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada have expressed “deep concern” over what these countries see as a curtailing of Hong Kong’s liberties in a recent joint statement. Japan is also pushing for a Group of Seven statement over the possible erosion of the “one country, two systems” framework. Additionally, President Donald Trump has expressed a desire to revoke Hong Kong’s special status from tariffs on China in an effort to pressure China on this issue.

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How This Impacts Mobility

Hong Kong is an important global financial center with a population of over seven million, a host to many multinationals and a frequent destination for expats. Hong Kong’s autonomy is likely to be a critical issue for workforce talent mobility and the global economy as we look ahead. As this issue evolves, Worldwide ERC® will continue to provide updates. If you have questions about this issue please reach out to Worldwide ERC®’s Vice President of Government Affairs, Rebecca Peters at rpeters@worldwideerc.org.

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