The Hong Kong government has been conducting political lobbying efforts in the United States since 2005, and over US$35 million has been spent on lobbying and engaging with American politicians over 1,000 times since 2019, according to a report released by the Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC), based in America, on July 5.
Ms. Anna Kwok, the Executive Director of HKDC, one of the eight dissidents who are wanted by the Hong Kong Police, with bounties on their heads of US$127,650, called on the Biden administration and Congress to exercise stricter oversight and regulation of the representatives of Hong Kong government in the U.S., scrutinizing the activities of the “white-gloved” proxy organizations.
The “The Counter-Lobby Confidential: How Beltway Insiders Do the Hong Kong Government’s Bidding” report is accompanied by the “SAR Government Lobbying Influence Database.” The database records how the Hong Kong government has spent US$ millions lobbying to influence American politics, media, and civil society.
The report highlights that the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) is the primary representative of the Hong Kong government in the United States. Another one is the Trade Development Council which the Hong Kong government funds. They have been providing financial support for lobbying.
The Trade Development Council spent over US$8.3 million on lobbying in the United States during the period from the 1997 handover of sovereignty to the Umbrella Movement in 2014,
Sing Tao Daily, the U.S. edition registered as a non-governmental foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, has also assisted the Hong Kong government’s lobbying efforts.
HKDC urges the U.S. Congress to pass the “Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) Certification Act” and for President Biden to sign the bill, utilizing his authority to revoke the quasi-diplomatic privileges of the Hong Kong government’s economic and trade offices in the United States.
They also call for strict enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, issuing new guidelines regarding interactions between Hong Kong government officials and U.S. government officials. Cultural and business institutions in the U.S. are advised to handle interactions with the Hong Kong government cautiously, given human rights concerns.
Ms. Kwok states that the national security police’s wanted list, which includes herself and seven others, reflects the Hong Kong government’s attempt to expand its authoritarian influence overseas. She emphasizes that the wanted list is just the tip of the iceberg.
Ms. Kwok also urges the Biden administration to prohibit sanctioned Hong Kong Chief Executive Mr. John Lee Ka-chiu from participating in the November Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. She mentions that HKDC and 52 other global organizations released an open letter vehemently opposing the lifting of U.S. government sanctions against Mr. Lee last month. It is now more urgent than ever to say no to Mr. Lee’s potential entry into the United States.