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AmCham calls for smooth commerce in Hong Kong

(CRI Online)    10:32, August 12, 2019

The American Chamber of Commerce in China says that a "smoothly functioning" system of commerce in Hong Kong is "fundamentally important" to the business interests of its members in the Chinese mainland.

(Photo/Chinanews.com)

The comments made by the influential American business group in China come as business in the city has faced disruptions over the past nine weeks as protests and civil unrest over a now-suspended extradition bill have blocked streets, shut down parts of the city's transit system and forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights at Hong Kong's airport.

The protests have expanded to larger grievances about the city's leadership and how the police have responded to the demonstrations, according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

"It is without question that smoothly functioning Hong Kong commerce is fundamentally important to our members' business interests and an important validator of the 'one country, two systems' approach," Timothy Stratford, chairman of AmCham China, said. "Faithful implementation of this approach helps Hong Kong maintain its reputation as an attractive destination for foreign investment."

The English-language newspaper wants to find out what Hong Kong protesters really want, two months on.

One country, two systems is a concept where Hong Kong and Macao are part of China, but retain their economic and political systems.

Clashes between the police and groups of protesters have become increasingly violent, with police firing 800 rounds of tear gas on Monday alone. Violent confrontations also have taken place between demonstrators and gangs of men, some with suspected triad links, in recent weeks.

Hundreds of people joined in a mass sit-in at the airport on Friday as part of three days of demonstrations that are planned in the city.

The overall economic effect has been difficult to judge, but the retail, hospitality, airline and property sectors have all been affected. Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States also have all raised issued travel warnings about the city in recent days, citing the civil unrest.

Cathay Pacific Airways said on Wednesday that it had seen a double-digit drop in advance ticket sales for travel to Hong Kong in the coming months because of the social unrest. Intercontinental Hotels Group, the owner of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels, also said its revenue per available room in Hong Kong was down in the second quarter because of the political dispute.

Hundreds of protesters occupy Hong Kong airport amid increased security

On Friday night, the Hong Kong Association of Banks said the increasingly violent confrontations would affect "Hong Kong's hard-earned position as an international financial centre."

"The HKAB calls on members of the public to stop all violent acts and to resolve differences through dialogues," the group said. "We also hope that the Hong Kong community will return to calm and peace soon."

Some of the city's largest banks, Standard Chartered and HSBC, have said that the effect on their businesses was "limited", so far, beyond temporary closure of some branches.

AmCham Hong Kong, a sister organisation, said that 37.1 per cent of its members surveyed in a straw poll in late July were "pessimistic" in the short-term over the city's prospects and 34.4 per cent believe that the city's "long-term prospects have been irreparably damaged".

The South China Morning Post also reports that the AmCham urges 'clear leadership' after fresh Hong Kong clashes. The business group said the survey found that members had taken revenue hits from disruptions to supply chains and consumption and expressed longer term doubts over cancelled events and delayed investments. About 12 per cent of AmCham Hong Kong's 1,400 members responded to the survey between July 23 and July 25.

"AmCham urges the government to stem any further damage and show clear leadership in meeting the expectations of Hong Kong people and in restoring the city's international reputation for effective governance under the 'one country, two systems' framework," Tara Joseph, president of AmCham Hong Kong, was quoted as saying in a statement.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Shi Xi, Bianji)

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