The Chinese regime decided on Aug. 20 to postpone the decision on the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law for Hong Kong, a law Beijing uses to retaliate against Western-imposed sanctions.
China’s rubber-stamp legislature was expected to formally approve the law for the Chinese-ruled city on Friday to counter actions by foreign governments amid escalating geopolitical tensions.
However, the vote was postponed for the time being while studying on the issue continues, according to local public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong, citing words from Tam Yiu-chung, the city’s sole delegate of the regime’s rubber-stamp legislature.
This move will “make the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law even more effective,” Tan responded to local media outlets’ inquiries on Friday.
State-run media Xinhua news also didn’t mention any decisions related to the law.
The Hong Kong government said in a Friday statement that it “fully supports and executes any such decisions” by Beijing as a response. But it didn’t offer any explanations for the delay.
The Chinese regime on June 10 introduced the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law, which mandates individuals or organizations in China, regardless of their citizenship, to follow Beijing’s countermeasures against foreign-imposed sanctions.
Measures include denying visas for individuals or expelling them, freezing or seizing assets in China, and restricting Chinese entities or people from doing business with those involved.
Under the communist regime’s pledge, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, is expected to protect the independent judiciary in the city. Mainland China’s law doesn’t apply in the Beijing-ruled city unless it’s in an annex of the constitution.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a press conference on Aug. 17 that Beijing plans to extend the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law to the financial hub, writing it into an annex of the Basic Law. Lam said she didn’t have an explicit deadline for implementation, but multinational companies are fretting over the impact on their operations.
Under the planned law, foreign banks and financial institutions would be in a dilemma—either violating U.S laws by following it or violating the regime’s laws by following U.S. orders.
The United States had warned multinational firms who have business in Hong Kong that the regime may force them to comply with Beijing’s retaliation. The measures could be used “against companies that comply with sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries” when Beijing imposed the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law.
The Chinese regime had imposed laws directly from its rubber-stamp legislature in 2020, including the national security law and legislative election reforms, which triggered protests by local citizens and foreign sanctions.
The United States imposed more sanctions and warnings against the U.S. companies doing business with the regime’s and Hong Kong’s officials and institutions, who were accused of implementing the national security law and human rights abuses in China’s far-western Xinjiang.
Reuters contributed to this report.