US says it will continue to hold Hong Kong authorities accountable

A supporter holds a poster showing some of 47 pro-democracy activists on trial in Hong Kong on July 8, 2021, on charges of conspiracy to commit subversion under the national security law for taking part in unauthorised pro-democracy primaries in July 2020. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US State Department said on Tuesday (July 13) the United States would continue to hold the Hong Kong authorities accountable for the erosion of rule of law in the territory.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told a regular news briefing that risks to the rule of law that were formerly limited to mainland China are now increasingly a concern for Hong Kong.

"We know that a healthy business community relies on the rule of law, which the national security law that applies to Hong Kong continues to undermine," he said.

Mr Price was responding to a question about a strengthened State Department warning to businesses issued on Tuesday about growing risks of having supply chain and investment links to China's Xinjiang region. It cited alleged forced labour and human rights abuses there.

Mr Price was asked if a similar warning might be issued over Hong Kong. A source told Reuters earlier the Biden administration could announce a similar business advisory on Hong Kong as soon as Friday, based on deteriorating conditions there.

The Treasury Department, meanwhile, declined to comment on a Financial Times report that Washington would impose more sanctions this week in response to China's crackdowns in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Mr Price said the United States would continue to impose "costs and sanctions" on Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses, including forced labour, but made no specific mention of any new measures.

"When it comes to Hong Kong, we don't have anything to announce at this time, regarding future policy moves," he said, while adding: "We will continue to call international attention to and hold the PRC and Hong Kong authorities accountable for the erosion of the rule of law in Hong Kong."

PRC is the acronym for China's official name, the People's Republic of China.

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