Business people worry turmoil erodes Hong Kong’s cornerstone of success

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HONG KONG, July 26 (Xinhua) — Business people have expressed their worries that the recent turmoil happened in China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) will erode the foundation to Hong Kong’s success, hoping the society could get back on the right track as soon as possible.

Joseph Yam, member of the Executive Council of the HKSAR and former chief executive of Hong Kong Monetary Authority, said that the rule of law is the cornerstone of success of Hong Kong as an international financial hub. The series of violent acts and vandalism are affecting the economic order in Hong Kong and disrupting normal business.

“Although the performance of Hong Kong’s financial market is normal at the moment, it is hard to say the confidence of investors and financial institutions will not be impacted in the future if the turmoil continues,” Yam said, adding that violent disorders will gradually erode Hong Kong’s foundation.

Chief Executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited Charles Li said that Hong Kong has always been a safe place and it is not fair for the whole public in Hong Kong to bear the consequences caused by violent extremists.

Li stressed that Hong Kong has freedom of speech, assembly and media, with the precondition that no violence should be used. Hong Kong people are worried about their personal safety which is heart-wrenching, he said, hoping the society will not head to an irretrievable path.

The negative impacts of these violent incidents on Hong Kong have emerged. The Standard Chartered Bank recently downgraded the economic growth forecast for 2019 of Hong Kong from 2.2 percent to 1.4 percent.

According to the Hong Kong Retail Management Association, large-scale rallies and protests have dampened Hong Kong’s retail performance, with most of the members of the association recording a double-digit fall in business in the first week of June and July.

The Hong Kong Productivity Council recently announced the third quarter result of the “Standard Chartered Hong Kong SME Leading Business Index.” Compared with last quarter, the index of this quarter decreased by 7 points to 39 and reached its three-year low, indicating a significant drop in SMEs’ confidence in the business environment.

Yang Yuchuan, chief macroeconomist of Prime China Securities Limited, said the current situation of Hong Kong has already weighed on tourism and retail industries. Unstable society and worsened business environment can cause a decrease in economic activities in Hong Kong, which in turn will have negative impacts on trading, logistics and financial services.

“As a center of international finance, shipping, trade, tourism, and shopping, Hong Kong needs to keep a stable, secure and orderly environment for its society and economy,” said Hong Kong Association of China Business Chairman Ping Wong.

Echoing Wong, Ngan Po-ling, deputy chairman of Hong Kong Mainland Headwear Holdings Ltd., appealed Hong Kong citizens to resist violence which have affected the daily life. “Violent acts these days have enraged we business community. We can’t let Pearl of the Orient suffer these,” said Ngan.

Many of those interviewed called for focus on economy and people’s livelihood. They believed Hong Kong citizens, young people in particular, will embrace more opportunities brought by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative.

“Stability is a major premise of developing a strong economy. I hope Hong Kong could end the turmoil and go back on track, to rebuild a commerce-friendly environment and explore more opportunities for companies and residents,” said Edward Liu, a lawyer specialized in shipping.

Ronald Wan, a senior investment banker, said Hong Kong enjoys apparent development strengths and solid base to maintain its status as a center of international finance, shipping and trade with the central government’s support and stable environment.

Wan hoped that the whole society could calm down and Hong Kong citizens especially the youth could grasp opportunities for a brighter future.

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