Expert urges Hong Kong residents ‘don’t be silent majority’ as mainland staff weigh exit

By Chen Qingqing in Hong Kong and Xie Jun in Shanghai Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/19 21:13:40

Expert urges Hong Kong residents 'don't be silent majority'

View of Hong Kong CBD in February 2018 Photo: IC

Representatives of Chinese mainland-based companies in Hong Kong are expressing worry over their future and that of the riot-hit city. Some are even thinking of moving back to the mainland, which they said will offer a more stable living and working environment. 

They have also called for Hong Kong to resume stability, which will help preserve the city's position as a global financial hub and its attraction to mainland investors.

"I have worked in Hong Kong for 10 years and feel I'm settled here. But what happened recently is making me very apprehensive about Hong Kong's future and my own as well," a representative of a mainland-based financial institution in Hong Kong told the Global Times on Monday.

"I've been discussing with my family whether to move back to the mainland for future development," the representative, who is surnamed Fu, said. 

Fu said that his company released a statement to condemn violence and support the government and local police.

Another employee at a mainland-based investment bank in Hong Kong surnamed Xue also told the Global Times that he and his employees have attended rallies in the past two months that support local police and oppose violence. 

"We hope that through our action and voices, Hong Kong police and residents can see that there are many people in Hong Kong who support the police and the government," Xue said.

Hong Kong's flagship airline Cathay Pacific Airways also issued a statement on Sunday, stressing that it opposed any illegal activity or violence that challenged the laws of Hong Kong, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The company has been embroiled in criticism due to its lukewarm attitude in drawing a line with its radical employees. 

Worries and belief

An employee at the Hong Kong branch of a financial institution based in Beijing said that many mainland companies and international financial institutions are worried about the current situation in Hong Kong, and some overseas financial institutions are planning to move to Singapore, or to Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province or Shanghai as a result of the riots. 

"If Shenzhen further eases policies on foreign exchange management and tax bonuses, it would undercut Hong Kong's appeal. A large number of mainland-invested companies might move from Hong Kong to Shenzhen," the employee said. 

Protests continued to engulf the financial hub with about 128,000 people attending a Sunday rally at its peak in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong police said. 

The protests, which have hit Hong Kong for nearly three months, have blocked business operations in the city, which has been known for its prosperous economic climate.

The Hong Kong stock market has tumbled amid the ongoing protests. The Hang Seng Index plunged from 28,371 points on July 22 to 26,291 points on Monday. 

Fu said he believed that Hong Kong will soon stabilize. "But I wonder if Hong Kong can regain its past glory."

"Mainland-invested companies have played an increasingly important role in various sectors in Hong Kong. Only when mainland companies grow stronger can Hong Kong become increasingly stable," Fu said.

Xue also noted that it's just a matter of time for Hong Kong to end the current chaos. "Mainland companies have exerted a non-negligible influence on Hong Kong society. Whether in capital markets or in other economic sectors, mainland-based companies already have a firm foothold in Hong Kong and are gradually leading the industries in the city," he noted. 

Mainland imports from Hong Kong rose 23 percent year-on-year in the first seven months this year, while exports to Hong Kong fell 7.7 percent, customs data showed.  

Zhi Zhenfeng, a legal expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that so far, the riots haven't had a "fatal influence" on mainland-based companies doing business in Hong Kong. 

"But if the riots worsen, mainland companies will re-evaluate the business environment in Hong Kong," Zhi told the Global Times on Monday, suggesting that such companies should develop contingency plans in case the situation abruptly deteriorates.

He also urged residents of Hong Kong not to be a "silent majority", whether that means safeguarding their own interests or maintaining Hong Kong's stability. 

Newspaper headline: Mainland staff in HK weigh exit


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