Robert O’Brien said the Chinese Communist Party is poised to restrict Hong Kong’s autonomy, established when the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.
“So now … it looks like with this national security law, they’re going to basically take over Hong Kong,” O’Brien said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
And if they do, “Secretary Pompeo would likely be unable to certify that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy. And if that happens, there will be sanctions that will be imposed on Hong Kong and China. It’s hard to see how Hong Kong could remain the Asian financial center that it’s become if China takes over,” he added.
O’Brien said he believes the world’s corporate community will abandon Hong Kong if China ends the “one country, two systems” form of government that has been in place since 1997.
“I just don’t see how they can stay. One reason that they came to Hong Kong is because there was the rule of law there, there was a free enterprise system, there was a capitalist system. There was democracy and local legislative elections. If all those things go away, I’m not sure how the financial community can stay there,” O’Brien said, adding that Hong Kong would suffer from “terrible brain drain.”
The Chinese Communist Party on Monday told international companies that the security laws would actually create a better business environment in Hong Kong, restoring calm by squashing “terrorist forces.”
“The international community can rest assured about the legislation for Hong Kong,” said Xie Feng, China’s foreign ministry commissioner in Hong Kong, according to the Financial Times. “The legislation will alleviate the great concern among the local and foreign business communities about the violent and terrorist forces attempting to mess up Hong Kong . . . and will create a more law-based, reliable and stable business environment for foreign investors.”
Xie was speaking a day after pro-Democracy protesters returned to the street following a lull because of the coronavirus pandemic to rally against Communist China’s plan to crackdown on dissent and anti-government demonstrations.
Police fired tear gas and water cannons as the protests spilled into a popular shopping district. At least 120 people were arrested.
Hong Kong has been rocked by protests since March 2019 that were sparked when the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing introduced a plan that would allow for the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China.
The bill was withdrawn last September but the rallies continued to support full democratic reforms and investigations into the police’s actions.