Liability for Imposing Sanctions Against the PRC or Hong Kong under Hong Kong’s National Security Law
11 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2020 Last revised: 7 Jan 2021
Date Written: September 1, 2020
Under art 29(4) of Hong Kong’s National Security Law, a person or company who “receives instructions” from a foreign country to commit the act of “imposing sanctions” against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) or the People’s Republic of China (PRC) commits a criminal offence. If, as required by the law of a foreign country X, a financial institution in Hong Kong performs an act in the course of its business for the purpose of implementing a sanction imposed by country X against the HKSAR or PRC, does that financial institution violate art 29(4)? In this article, we argue the financial institution does not. The scope of art 29(4) must be interpreted contextually. It covers the performance of an act of imposing a sanction or blockade or of engaging in other hostile activities. Such an act is only capable of being performed by a state, an individual acting on behalf of a state or an international organisation. A financial institution, giving effect to sanctions against the HKSAR or the PRC, cannot be regarded as “receiving instructions” to “impose sanctions”, which have already been imposed by a foreign state. It cannot be guilty of a criminal offence under art 29(4) merely by participating in the implementation of the sanctions concerned to comply with a foreign law applicable to it.
Keywords: Hong Kong; National Security Law; sanctions; PRC
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