HK busi­ness suf­fers ‘chilly win­ter’ from rad­i­cal protests

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Wang Wen­wen and Chen Qingqing in Hong Kong

As il­le­gal as­sem­blies in Hong Kong con­tinue to dis­rupt nor­mal life in the city and pro­test­ers par­a­lyzed the Hong Kong air­port for two con­sec­u­tive days, busi­ness rep­re­sen­ta­tives and lo­cal res­i­dents called the anti-gov­ern­ment move­ment a “sui­cide mis­sion” that will de­stroy the lo­cal econ­omy.

Anti-gov­ern­ment protests which have turned vi­o­lent have se­ri­ously damp­ened the out­look of Hong Kong’s econ­omy. Most sec­tors, in­clud­ing re­tail, tourism and in­vest­ment, have been greatly af­fected, and fu­ture im­pli­ca­tions on the econ­omy will be felt, in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives warned.

Main­land tourists make up roughly 80 per­cent of all vis­i­tors to the city, and pro­vide 40 per­cent of Hong Kong’s re­tail rev­enues.

Some 51 mil­lion Chi­nese tourists from the main­land ar­rived in Hong

Kong last year. That has fallen three months in a row since Fe­bru­ary, lo­cal me­dia re­ported.

June fig­ures re­leased by the Cen­sus and Statis­tics De­part­ment of the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment show that to­tal re­tail sales in June 2019, pro­vi­sion­ally es­ti­mated at $35.2 bil­lion, dropped by 6.7 per­cent com­pared with the same month last year.

As the scale of vi­o­lent protests con­tin­ued to grow in July and Au­gust, the Hong Kong Re­tail Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion said in its June monthly report that mem­ber com­pa­nies are “very con­cerned about the pro­longed protests in different parts of the city” and it fore­casts a sin­gle- to dou­ble-digit drop in sales for July and Au­gust.

‘Chilly win­ter’

Hong Kong’s eco­nomic growth has been slug­gish due to weaker de­mand and con­sump­tion. Vi­o­lent il­le­gal as­sem­blies, which have hit pop­u­lated ar­eas and shop­ping dis­tricts, have also dam­aged Hong Kong’s rep­u­ta­tion as a di­verse, safe and dy­namic so­ci­ety ruled by law.

“It has hurt the fundamenta­ls of Hong Kong’s econ­omy, es­pe­cially of small- and medium-sized en­ter­prises (SEM),” said Chan King, vice president of the Hong Kong Chi­nese Im­porters and Ex­porters As­so­ci­a­tion.

The pur­pose of op­po­si­tion forces is to ob­struct eco­nomic devel­op­ment through un­law­ful as­sem­blies in busi­ness and pop­u­lated ar­eas, he noted. “They want to hi­jack the busi­ness cir­cle to force the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment to com­pro­mise and to fur­ther jeop­ar­dize the devel­op­ment of the main­land,” Chan said.

The un­rest in Hong Kong has also se­ri­ously hurt lo­cal in­dus­tries such as tourism, trad­ing and lo­gis­tics, and en­dan­gered lo­cal em­ploy­ment growth, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial data.

Closed restau­rants and shops dur­ing week­ends have be­come a com­mon scene in Hong Kong, as the city has been hit by protests that have turned into il­le­gal as­sem­blies and ri­ots.

Global Times re­porters saw some tourists in­tim­i­dated by black-clad rad­i­cal ri­ot­ers at il­le­gal protests, as they oc­cu­pied streets and roads at some shop­ping dis­tricts such as Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok.

In the past week­end when protests hit those ar­eas, al­most all the stores and shop­ping malls were closed, and some tourists from abroad were caught in the mid­dle of stand­offs be­tween po­lice and ri­ot­ers.

“It is like sui­cide that will de­stroy the city as an in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial and trad­ing hub,” Chan , told the Global Times on Tues­day.

Hong Kong’s over­all eco­nomic per­for­mance was sub­dued in the sec­ond quar­ter due to weaker ex­ter­nal de­mand and slug­gish do­mes­tic de­mand, and so­cial un­rest fur­ther clouded the eco­nomic out­look.

For the past two months, the protests have be­come more vi­o­lent, from peace­ful demon­stra­tions to be­sieg­ing gov­ern­ment build­ings and po­lice sta­tions, from in­sult­ing the na­tional em­blem to par­a­lyz­ing transporta­tion. Some forces want to dis­rupt Hong Kong’s econ­omy, and that is painful, Choi Koon-shum, chair­man of the Chi­nese Gen­eral Cham­ber of Com­merce, Hong Kong, told the Global Times.

Fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions also cut their eco­nomic growth fore­casts for Hong Kong, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports. But in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives be­lieve Hong Kong’s eco­nomic tur­moil will have little im­pact on the main­land.

“Hong Kong is im­por­tant as a trade tran­sit hub, but with the devel­op­ment of main­land ports, the pro­por­tion of Hong Kong’s econ­omy to the main­land’s GDP is very lim­ited,” Chan said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.