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Hong Kong’s American Club scraps ‘discriminatory’ membership proposal 

The club’s attempt to force non-US members to pay HK$1.5 million or leave didn’t ‘send a good message to the world,’ one prominent member said
  • The American Club’s board has withdrawn the proposal and says it will allow non-American members to stay at no extra cost

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UPDATED: 26 Jun 2024, 8:59 am

One of Hong Kong’s most exclusive private members’ clubs has been forced to backtrack on a policy that would have seen its non-American members fork out an extra HK$1.5 million (US$190,100) to keep their memberships – or else leave. 

The American Club’s original proposal infuriated its non-US members and was seen as tone deaf at a time of Sino-US political tension. Hong Kong tycoon Allan Zeman, who is a member, said the attempt to get non-Americans to pay up “doesn’t send a good message to the world” and “does seem a bit discriminatory.”

According to the South China Morning Post, the club’s board decided yesterday to allow non-American members to retain their existing debentures or take up other types of membership at no additional cost.

“We have embraced our members’ candid and constructive feedback on the initiative and have made changes to reflect this feedback,” the board said.

[See more: Prestigious London club to vote on admission of women]

The club says that it needs to restructure its membership to maintain its non-profit tax status, which requires that 50 percent or more of its operating revenue to come from voting American members.

One non-US member admitted anonymously to the Post that this issue had not been addressed. “Nothing’s really changed because the 50 per cent requirement is still there and they haven’t addressed it,” she said. “They kick the can down the road, and if the numbers drop again, it may happen again.”

The 99-year-old American Club currently has 2,909 members, of which only 52 percent are American.

UPDATED: 26 Jun 2024, 8:59 am

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