Protests ‘hitting Hong Kong economy’

30 Jul 19

Protests in Hong Kong are damaging its economy and could push up unemployment, according to the territory’s financial secretary.

 

Paul Chan said in a blog post that many local retail and catering businesses had experienced a “sharp decline” in trade as a result of the social unrest, the news agency Bloomberg reported.

In the latest development after months of escalating protests in Hong Kong, China’s government has made a rare intevention and called on its authorities to swiftly punish ‘radicals’ that it claims are behind the demonstrations. 

Eight weeks of protests were sparked by a bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China.

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated against the proposed legislation, and the planned law has been suspended for now.

However, subsequent actions by the authorites resulted in the protests developing into a wider pro-democracy movement, with demonstrators calling for chief executive Carrie Lam’s resignation and directing their anger at police, who they accuse of excessive force.

The unrest poses the most significant challenge to the authority of Beijing in the former British colony since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Hong Kong’s authorities have echoed statements coming out of Beijing that blame radicals for the protests and also criticise foreign “interference” in the territory.

Hong Kong is experiencing an economic downturn because of external factors such as the US-China trade war and problems in its technology sector.

In his Chinese-language blog post, Chan said the downturn will hit the jobs market and was likely to push up the unemployment rate from a current low of 2.8%. 

He warned that the longer the protests go on, the more damage they will cause to small and medium enterprises.

“The recent revision of the fugitives regulations has triggered many large-scale demonstrations,” Chan stated in comments translated from Chinese. 

“There have been a series of violent shocks, which have also affected local merchants. Many retail and catering operators have said that the recent business volume has dropped significantly. 

“The longer the duration of the protests, the more significant the impact on SMEs and small businesses will be. 

“The livelihood of some members of the public will also be dragged down. In addition, these incidents have also damaged Hong Kong’s international image and business environment.”

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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