U.S. Relations With Hong Kong

Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Fact Sheet
February 25, 2016

More information about Hong Kong is available on the China Country Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


In 1997, China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, ending more than 150 years of British colonial rule. Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Its foreign relations and defense are the responsibility of China. However, Hong Kong is a customs territory and economic entity separate from the rest of China and is able to enter into international agreements on its own behalf in commercial, economic, and certain legal matters.

U.S. policy toward Hong Kong is stated in the U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 and grounded in the determination to promote Hong Kong's prosperity, autonomy, and way of life. The United States maintains substantial economic and political interests in Hong Kong. The U.S. supports Hong Kong's autonomy under the "One Country, Two Systems" framework by concluding and implementing bilateral agreements; promoting trade and investment; broadening law enforcement cooperation; bolstering educational, academic, and cultural links; supporting high-level visits of U.S. officials; and serving the large community of U.S. citizens and visitors.

Hong Kong is active in counterterrorism efforts. Hong Kong belongs to the Container Security Initiative and remains an important partner in efforts to eliminate funding for terrorist networks and combat money laundering. Hong Kong has passed legislation designed to bring it into compliance with applicable United Nations anti-terror resolutions and with most Financial Action Task Force recommendations. In 2010, Hong Kong passed legislation allowing it to adopt the most recent globally recognized standards for exchange of tax information. Hong Kong signed its first Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with the United States in March 2014, and the two sides concluded an Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) under the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

U.S. Assistance to Hong Kong

The United States provides no foreign assistance to Hong Kong.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States enjoys substantial economic and social ties with Hong Kong. U.S. companies have a generally favorable view of Hong Kong's business environment, including its legal system and the free flow of information, low taxation, and infrastructure. There are some 1,400 U.S. firms, including 822 regional operations (316 regional headquarters and 506 regional offices), and approximately 85,000 American residents in Hong Kong.

The U.S. trade surplus with Hong Kong remains among the largest with a U.S. trading partner, with a surplus in 2014 of $35.1 billion, owing largely to Hong Kong imports of American aircraft and spacecraft, diamonds, nonmonetary gold, telecommunications equipment, and computer processors. In addition, the United States remains one of the largest sources of foreign direct investment in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy as a separate customs territory since the 1997 handover. Hong Kong maintains a comprehensive strategic trade controls system that follows multilateral export control regimes, and our governments work closely together to maintain and strengthen measures to prevent illegal diversion of controlled items. Intellectual property rights protection is relatively strong, but current copyright laws do not adequately address online piracy. The Legislative Council was considering a bill to modernize intellectual property protections while codifying exceptions for political parody as of early 2016.

Hong Kong's Membership in International Organizations

Hong Kong, independently of China, participates as a full member of several international economic organizations. The United States and Hong Kong both belong to the World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and Financial Action Task Force. Hong Kong is an articulate and effective champion of free markets and the reduction of trade barriers.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong is Clifford A. Hart, Jr.; other principal officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Hong Kong maintains three Economic and Trade Offices in the United States in Washington, D.C.; New York; and San Francisco.

China's embassy in the United States is at 3505 International Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008; Tel.: (202) 495-2266

More information about Hong Kong is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Hong Kong Page
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page