Concerned about abuse of national security laws, 40% of AmCham Hong Kong members plan to leave in the near future

A new survey released by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong says 42 percent of the chamber’s members are about to leave or plan to leave Hong Kong in the next three to five years, with the biggest reason being Beijing’s push for national security laws in Hong Kong starting in late June last year.

The Chamber released on Wednesday (May 12, 2021) an opinion survey of its members conducted last week, showing that 62 percent of members who plan to leave Hong Kong believe that the national security law worries them and therefore intend to leave Hong Kong either immediately or in the next five years. Of those members, 36 percent believe the National Security Law will affect their children’s education in Hong Kong. Of the 325 AmCham members surveyed, many do not have children or have children who are not in Hong Kong.

The survey report said that 43 percent of members who intend to leave Hong Kong said they would remain in Asia, while 39 percent chose to return to their home countries, showing that many businessmen want to leave because of the dramatic changes in Hong Kong, but still have confidence in doing business in the Asian region.

The latest survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong also reported that 58 percent of respondents do not currently plan to leave Hong Kong, with 77 percent saying this is because of the good quality of life in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s national security law, introduced by the Chinese authorities last year, punishes any act of secession, subversion and collusion with forces outside the country, and violators can be sentenced to life in prison.

Some members of the Chamber of Commerce interviewed said the law is vague and ambiguous, and they fear it could be used by authorities to enforce the law arbitrarily, and that they could be arrested for making certain statements inadvertently.

The Hong Kong government denied that people’s rights and freedoms would be curtailed by the national security law, insisting it is committed to keeping Hong Kong open and diverse and its status as an international financial center.

In a foreword to the latest survey, Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, said the chamber is committed to long-term roots in Hong Kong and believes many businesses will continue to have thriving business opportunities in the city in the future.

Responding to the AmCham’s latest findings, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said Wednesday that the response to the implementation of national security laws in Hong Kong has been positive, and that most overseas businesses, especially those looking to develop in mainland China, still see Hong Kong as a good place to invest.