China hawk Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) wrote an “open letter” to American companies with business ties to China on Thursday, calling on them to publicly denounce the Chinese Communist Party’s recent national security law that overrides Hong Kong’s independence.
As Hong Kongers protested on the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Hawley warned that “the fate of Hong Kong hangs in the balance,” saying that the new law — which was passed unilaterally by China’s National People’s Congress last month — will “mean the death of democracy in Hong Kong.” Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress that the new law meant Hong Kong is effectively no longer “autonomous.”
Hawley called on U.S. firms to use their market power to speak out against the new legislation, and suggested they could withdraw from the Chinese market if the security law goes through.
“The CCP may not care about freedom, democracy, or any of the other things for which we, as Americans, have long stood and fought. But it does care about you,” Hawley explained. “The CCP knows that its economic fortunes are still tied to your companies’ participation in its markets. If it knows that you may retract that participation in response to the Hong Kong crackdown, then it may yet restrain itself. And some vestige of freedom – some glimmer of hope – might yet live on in that city. This is the power you hold.”
The Missouri Republican, who has been outspoken about Hong Kong and visited the island amid pro-democracy protests last year, called on companies to live up to their “obligation to put principle ahead of profit.”
“You are an American company first and foremost. And you have a responsibility to your nation – and indeed, to all free nations of the world – to speak up for what is right,” Hawley wrote. “You have an obligation to put principle ahead of profit and to ensure that your actions do not enable the destruction of others’ freedoms. Nowhere is this truer than in Hong Kong, the frontline of the fight against CCP imperialism.”
Hawley’s letter comes after U.K.-based bank HSBC backed the CCP’s new security measures, saying the company “respects and supports any laws that stabilize the social order in Hong Kong.”