By Ginny Man
On July 28, The Washington Post reported an exclusive that the U.S. government has decided to bar the Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu from attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit, which is hosted by the U.S. this time and set on November in San Francisco. This news has not yet been officially confirmed by the Biden administration. However, if the US government intends to maintain a healthy economic relationship with China and lessen the tension between Beijing and Washington, they should stop testing the water and clarify their stance soonest possible.
In February, Wendy Sherman, the US Deputy Secretary of State, replied in a written response to questions following testimony to the Senate foreign relations committee that her department intended to welcome John Lee for APEC. However, her successor Victoria Nuland has chosen to remain ambiguous when a few members of the Congress demanded to uphold the ban against John Lee’s rightful presence in the upcoming APEC meetings. The U.S. is entering into the election cycle, both Democrats and Republicans are striving for votes, would this ban against John Lee be used and seen as anti-China efforts that could please the U.S. Congress and their voters?
Hong Kong has been a member economy of the APEC since 1991 and an active contributor to economic growth, sustainability, innovative and economic integration in the Asia Pacific Region. Being the leader of an APEC member economy, John Lee is expected to attend the leaders’ summit and it is not for the host country to decide on the participant. As China foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, the host country should “fulfill its obligation, follow relevant rules and procedures of APEC, and facilitate the participation of all representatives”. APEC does not belong to any single country or economy, and all members agree to abide by the rules and conventions of APEC when organizing international APEC events.
Mao Ning, foreign ministry spokesperson pointed out that imposing illegal and unreasonable sanctions on John Lee and other Chinese officials are in itself a bullying act which seriously violate basic norms guiding international relations. The decision of not inviting Hong Kong’s Chief Executive to the APEC meeting by citing those sanctions as a reason is yet another mistake, and a blatant violation of APEC rules and contravenes the U.S. commitment as host. China strongly urges the U.S. to correct the wrong move immediately, lift the sanctions on John Lee and other SAR officials, fulfill its due responsibility as the APEC host, and invite John Lee to the meeting according to customary practice.
The author is a deputy to National People's Congress, Chairman of The Federation of HK Guangxi Community Organizations.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of Bauhinia Magazine.