This photo taken on April 2, 2019 shows the logo of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the main gate of the WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Saturday strongly objected to remarks by the United States on Hong Kong situation at a meeting of the dispute settlement body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization the previous day.
Saying that the US comments “completely ignored and distorted the facts”, the SAR government urged Washington to stop abusing the forum to attack Hong Kong.
A WTO panel established under the DSB clearly ruled on Dec 21, 2022 that the origin marking requirement imposed by the US on products from Hong Kong is discriminatory and inconsistent with WTO rules, recommending the US to bring the measure into conformity, a spokesman for the HKSAR government said in a statement.
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“By repeatedly making distorted and self-serving political assertions at DSB meetings in connection with the panel ruling, the US is undermining the integrity of the rules-based multilateral trading system embodied by the WTO,” reads the statement.
Hong Kong is a society underpinned by the rule of law and has always adhered to the principle that laws must be obeyed and lawbreakers be held accountable, and this is well recognised by international community.
Spokesman, HKSAR Govt
The origin marking requirement imposed by the US requires all products exported from Hong Kong to the US may no longer be marked as originating in "Hong Kong" but must be marked to indicate "China".
Pointing out that Hong Kong has called upon the US to respect the ruling and withdraw immediately its erroneous origin marking requirement, the spokesman said: “Yet the US has decided to appeal on the Panel's report to the appellate body, an appeal mechanism that it has crippled since end-2019 by continuously blocking the appointments of members to the body, disrupting all WTO members from having their cases heard and adjudicated under the well-established mechanism.”
Terming it as “a hypocritical and arrogant act”, the SAR government said the appellate body is still non-functional to date. “Instead of unblocking appointments to the appellate body, the US' attempt to keep bringing up the case to the DSB and criticizing the specific panel rulings show no respect to the panel, the panelists and WTO rules.”
While WTO members are entitled to respond before a panel and lodge appeals, there is an intelligible difference between lodging genuine appeals against substantive rulings and furthering ulterior, political motives in the guise of resolving a trade dispute, it pointed out.
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“As to the US' smearing of the current state of affairs in Hong Kong at the meeting, the HKSAR government strongly refutes the absurd and unfounded remarks leveled against the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) by the US,” the spokesman said, stressing that Hong Kong is a society underpinned by the rule of law.
Hong Kong is a society underpinned by the rule of law and has always adhered to the principle that laws must be obeyed and lawbreakers be held accountable, and this is well recognized by the international community, added the spokesman.