How do you evaluate the National Security Review and the Unreliable Entity List, both of which are important for the opening up?
We will have to see how China handles this. To a few companies, it looks like a sword of Damocles, but I don't see any concern about it in the Chamber.
The National People’s Congress has set in motion the legislative process for a new security law for Hong Kong. The law is expected to be introduced as early as August and is likely to significantly erode the autonomy of the former Crown colony. To what extent do you fear that this will change Hong Kong's status as an international center of finance and trade?
Foreign companies have always appreciated Hong Kong's extensive freedoms, autonomy and transparency which have been afforded it under the “one country, two systems” banner. The independence of the judiciary, the fundamental freedoms and rights of Hong Kong citizens – for example the freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – have always been cornerstones of the city’s success, which is unique in Asia. The free movement of goods and finance has been one of the many factors behind Hong Kong's economic success and a reason why it attracts European business. Any attempts to challenge the "one country, two systems" concept are viewed with great concern by the international business community. The future of the "Asian metropolis" is at stake.
Is Hong Kong being let down by the EU and the international community?
No, because EU companies have all remained in Hong Kong. The city is unique in its efficiency – there is no equivalent anywhere in China. And the local Chamber of Commerce there communicates this very clearly. But European investors can only exert a certain degree of influence in the current situation. China has a thick skin. In the worst case, Europeans will vote with their feet.
Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, accused the United States, on the sidelines of the NPC, of bringing relations between the two countries “to the brink of a new Cold War”. What does the escalation of the conflict mean for relations between China and Europe?
For Beijing, the key question is how European states are going to behave. So far, the major European economies have shown no willingness to follow the United States, despite all the efforts of the US administration to build an anti-Chinese technology coalition. For example, the United Kingdom and Germany have not yet decided to exclude Chinese companies like Huawei from the 5G market. The United States will have to risk a further deterioration in transatlantic relations in order to persuade EU states to take their line on Chinese technology.
This interview was published in the current issue of the MERICS Update (May 28th issue).