The Liberal Party is seeking to abandon its non-binding motion urging a consultation and discussion on enacting a Hong Kong national security law, in favour of a debate on US-China trade instead.
Felix Chung, the pro-Beijing party’s leader, previously tabled the motion at the legislature urging action over a security law. A discussion could have been held as early as the end of November, but – on Monday – he said his party’s priorities had changed.
“We realised that the US-China trade war is affecting Hong Kong – therefore, it is more urgent to discuss the trade war and put aside Article 23 [the national security law] for now,” Chung said.
Chung said the business sector was very concerned about the trade war after the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s annual report suggested that Washington should review Hong Kong’s trade status. Citing declining freedoms in the city, the report concluded that there should be a review of how Hong Kong is considered a separate customs area compared to China.
“These reports have never made such suggestions to the US government,” Chung said. “We are very concerned harm will soon be done.”
Chung had said last week that Hong Kong will be “finished” if the US treats Hong Kong as another Chinese city.
Legislative Council President Andrew Leung said that, according to the house rules, the deadline to change the content of the motion already passed last Tuesday, as adjustments need 12 days notice.
“No president has made an exemption. I don’t see any reason that I should make that exemption,” he said.
But Leung said Chung could withdraw the motion.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting welcomed the move by Chung, saying that it was a responsible one.
“No-one should add fuel to the fire when the trade war is ongoing,” he said. “I urge the pro-Beijing camp to learn from the Liberal Party to stop all political persecution, and stop words and deeds which harm Hong Kong’s freedoms and human rights.”