Hong Kong Watch – a British-based advocacy group – released a report detailing assets owned by senior Hong Kong officials. The report said that nine Hong Kong officials and 12 members of Hong Kong’s legislature have property overseas, including in Britain, Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan, and France.
Among these officials, some possess multiple properties abroad.
For example, Hong Kong’s Food and Health Secretary, Sophia Chan, owns three properties in London.
Executive Council member Arthur Li has two properties in London.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau also owns three UK properties.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam used to own two properties in Cambridge, England but sold them in September 2014 when she was still Chief Secretary for Administration. John Lee, the Beijing-backed candidate for Hong Kong’s next top chief, has yet to declare any overseas properties.
Notably, the report said these officials had voiced vocal support for the National Security Law. The law, imposed in 2020, has led to the jailing of more than 700 pro-democracy activists, the disbanding of dozens of civil society groups, and the shutdown of many independent media outlets within the city.
The authors of the report accused those named of enjoying the “freedoms and protections” inherent in overseas jurisdictions while backing a crackdown on basic rights in Hong Kong.
Sam Goodman, a senior policy adviser at Hong Kong Watch, called out these Hong Kong officials and lawmakers for being complicit in the continuing human rights crackdown in Hong Kong while happily using the West as a safe haven for their hidden wealth.
Meanwhile, in a talk with VOA, UK-based independent political scientist Benson Wong Wai-Kwok said the trend of buying properties overseas has also revealed these senior officials’ fear of political risks in Hong Kong.
Huang said it showed their lack of confidence in the prospect of Hong Kong’s property market and its legal system’s capability to protect private property, as opposed to other freedom countries.
Calling this hypocrisy, the report urges those countries that house these officials’ properties to audit their assets and at the same time, propose a Hong Kong-specific sanctions list to cut off them to “Western property, bank accounts, and equities.”