25 October 2023 – Yesterday, 23 Hong Kong organisations issued a statement to raise alarm regarding the more than two dozen U.S.-based financial firms that are sending executives to attend the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit in Hong Kong from the 6th to 8th of November. Among others, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America are due to attend the summit.
The financial summit will be headlined by Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee, who has been barred from entering the U.S. since 2020 for his role in the destruction of Hong Kong’s civil liberties. John Lee continues to support the National Security Law, and recently increased the pressure on Hong Kong pro-democracy activists at home and abroad by placing HK$1 million bounties on the heads of eight Hongkongers who now live in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK Foundation) calls on American financial executives to withdraw from the summit to take a public stand against John Lee and his ongoing human rights violations in Hong Kong. Last year, concerted action by Hong Kong activists highlighted similar concerns which led to a reduced number of chief executives who attended the summit.
We also urge the U.S. Congress to advance the bipartisan Hong Kong Business Integrity and Transparency Act, which would require U.S. businesses to disclose when the Hong Kong government demands customer data, content takedowns, or assistance in their targeting of political dissidents. The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control should closely monitor any engagements to ensure compliance with U.S. laws and sanctions during the summit.
Mark Sabah, UK and EU Director of the CFHK Foundation, said:
“It is no coincidence that this summit takes place one week before the U.S.-hosted Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in San Francisco, which John Lee has reportedly been barred from attending. The Hong Kong government is trying to signal that business is as usual in Hong Kong, but that could not be further from the truth. Technology companies, investment firms, banks and other companies alike continue to flee the city. U.S. businesses should heed this red flag while the U.S. government should do more to safeguard the U.S. business environment as well as national security.”