Most Favored Nation status critical for Hong Kong future
June 11, 1997
Web posted at: 2:38 p.m. EDT (1838 GMT)
From Hong Kong Bureau Chief Mike Chinoy
HONG KONG (CNN) -- The lifeblood of Hong Kong is trade,
especially with China. Nearly half of all the goods shipped
in and out of China pass through the territory -- one
of the reasons why its container port is the busiest in the
In addition, 50 percent of all U.S. trade with China goes
through Hong Kong, making China and the United States the
territory's two largest trade partners.
That is why the calls in the U.S. Congress to revoke
China's Most Favored Nation trading status -- the low tariffs
Washington offers its normal trading partners -- are
generating concern here, especially on the eve of
Hong Kong's handover to China.
"Hong Kong really survives in the middle between America and
China," said James Tien of the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce.
"If either of them has a sneeze, we will catch a cold
or pneumonia. So we're very concerned about the trading
relationship between China and the U.S."
Official studies indicate that if MFN for China was revoked,
Hong Kong's economic growth rate would be cut almost in half
and unemployment would soar.
"We'll probably be talking about a loss of jobs of about
300,000 out of 6 million people," Tien said.
Officials are so concerned about the possible loss of MFN
that diplomats from all sides of the political spectrum have
voiced their opinions, from pro-Beijing politicians to
outgoing Hong Kong governor Chris Patten to pro-democracy
"We have always taken the view that MFN should be renewed
because if it is not ... it's not helping Hong Kong," said
Martin Lee of the Hong Kong Democrats.
Richard Boucher, U.S. consul-general to Hong Kong, also
underlined the importance of the trading status renewal.
"This is really important for Hong Kong to maintain their
prosperity. And that trade, particularly with their
two biggest trading partners -- the U.S. and China -- is
really important for them to maintain their society, their
way of life and their economy as they go into this new era."
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