On 24 July 2020, the European Council adopted measures in response to the new security law in Hong Kong. The measures also include export restrictions for European companies. EU member states must carry out the concrete, legally binding implentation of these measures.

The EU is reacting to the Hong Kong government’s national security law.

The Chinese government passed the controversial law at the end of June 2020 and received much international criticism for it.

The Hong Kong Security Act gave the government extensive powers to counter the ongoing protests and demonstrations. The government punishes all forms of separatism, terrorism, and cooperation with a foreign power.

The demonstrations were sparked by the extradition agreement between mainland China and Hong Kong. However, the agreement was suspended due to widespread protest.

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European Coordinated Response Package

The EU has set out a coordinated package responding to the security law with measures in the following fields:

  • Asylum, migration, visa and residence policy
  • Exports of specific sensitive equipment and technologies for end use in Hong Kong
  • Scholarships and academic exchanges involving Hong Kong students and universities
  • Support to civil society
  • The operation of member states’ extradition arrangements and other relevant agreements with Hong Kong

The measures are intended to restrict the export of sensitive surveillance technologies to Hong Kong.

Simultaneously, the European Union seeks to promote academic exchange with Hong Kong and support local civil society.

The EU foreign ministers further stipulated that they would review the implementation of the national security law and the impact of the package of measures by the end of the year.

Cyber Technology Export Ban

The export ban specifically applies to cyber technologies used to intercept internal communication or for cyber surveillance. The particular goods that will be affected is not yet clear.

Additionally, police and military equipment as well as items listed in the EU anti-torture regulation could also be affected by the export ban.

The German government has already announced that it will stop exporting arms and dual-use items to Hong Kong.

The export bans will not be limited to Hong Kong, but will extend to China as a whole and possibly include all third countries which could use the items concerned in Hong Kong.

The concrete effects for European companies are not yet foreseeable, as the measures are intended as guidelines. EU member states may carry out the measures at their discretion.

It remains to be seen to what extent the export bans will be applied at the European level. Nevertheless, the impact on German companies is likely to be rather limited, as the volume of arms exports to Hong Kong has already been low in recent years.

Dieser Artikel wurde am 21. August 2020 erstellt. Die fachliche Zweitprüfung hat Rechtsanwalt Dr. Tristan Wegner durchgeführt.

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