The organiser of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum has the “responsibility to invite members to attend,” Chief Executive John Lee has said, without directly answering as to whether he will go to November’s APEC meeting in the US. Lee is still under sanctions by Washington.

Chief Executive John Lee attending weekly press conference.
Chief Executive John Lee. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The annual APEC CEO Summit 2023 will be held in San Francisco on November 15 and 16. The economic conference involves political leaders from the Asia-Pacific region. However, Lee is one of multiple Chinese officials who were sanctioned by the US in 2020 for their alleged role in cracking down on political freedoms in the city.

“Hong Kong, China has been a member [of] APEC, and has been taking part in APEC conferences in accordance [with] APEC rules and conventions,” Lee said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday when asked by HKFP he will attend the conference. “So it is up to the organisers to act in accordance with these conventions.”

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Lee added that the Hong Kong government will “of course” act in accordance with the APEC rules and conventions “in regards to invitations.”

The secretary for commerce and economic development, Algernon Yau, had attended the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Detroit, in the US, last Friday, and spoke about fostering sustainable and inclusive trade in the region.

When asked if Lee would be welcomed, a Department of State spokesperson told HKFP that the US hopes to deepen and expand its ties with APEC during this year’s meeting: “Invitations for APEC Economic Leaders’ Week have not been finalized at this time. The United States will diligently work towards participation of all delegations in APEC events in accordance with U.S. laws and regulations, and on the basis of the spirit and principles of APEC.”

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Mandy Cheng is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. Previously, she worked at Ming Pao, focusing on investigative and feature reporting. She also contributed to Cable TV and others.