HK formally complains to US on 'Made in China' labelling

HONG KONG • The Hong Kong government has formally complained about the Trump administration's move to label imports from the city as "Made in China" rather than "Made in Hong Kong", as the United States and China continue to spar on fronts ranging from trade and technology to human rights.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau yesterday met the Acting US Consul General in Hong Kong, Mr Paul Horowitz, and asked him to submit a letter of complaint to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

"Such regulations go contrary to WTO (World Trade Organisation) regulations and infringe upon our rights as a separate Customs region," Mr Yau told reporters. "We are a separate, and indeed, independent member of the WTO." He said Hong Kong reserved the right to seek dispute settlement at the WTO.

The comments came a day after the WTO ruled that additional tariffs imposed by the US against China in 2018 were inconsistent with global trading rules.

The financial hub had previously complained about the American move, which takes effect on Nov 9. It comes after the Trump administration rescinded Hong Kong's special status under US law, part of a pushback against China's crackdown in the city. Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" agreement that promised it a high degree of autonomy for 50 years.

Many credit its unbridled capitalism, guarantees of rights and freedoms, and independent legal system with helping Hong Kong to prosper as a global financial hub and interface for China and the world.

But critics say the new security law, targeting activities that Beijing considers to be subversion, secessionism, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces, effectively brings Hong Kong closer to China's authoritarian system. Supporters of the law say it will bring stability after a year of anti-government protests.

Washington and Beijing are waging a broader tit-for-tat battle on everything from sanctions on each other's officials to restrictions on journalists based in their respective countries.

Earlier this week, the US State Department updated its travel advisory on Hong Kong, warning that China now "unilaterally and arbitrarily exercises policy and security power in Hong Kong".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2020, with the headline 'HK formally complains to US on 'Made in China' labelling'. Print Edition | Subscribe