Hong Kong is one of the great finance cities of the world. Known for banking, It stands as a focal point for regional business in the east Asia arena and attracts capital and investors globally. Hong Kong’s history has played a vital role in shaping the successful business culture it has today but that same history can be seen as the reason of today’s unrest. Hong Kong was Seeded to the British in 1841 and was under British rule until 1997. During that time Hong Kong and its people were increasingly exposed to western values of which was assimilated into the local traditions. This is how Hong Kong became the preeminent center of finance in the Asian world, its time under British rule allowed it to acclimate itself to world markets allowing for a business-friendly attitude.
When Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 it was guaranteed semi autonomy for a period of 50 years lasting until 2043. Under this 1 country 2 systems rule Hong Kong would be allowed to govern itself essentially keeping everything business as usual. Business were able to operate freely as they have done, and Hong Kong kept its much-regarded freedoms. This was due to the inherent strength of Hong Kong compared with other major Chinese at the time. However, times change Hong Kong while still being a banking epicenter is just one of many well integrated and successful Chinese cities. This may be why the government of china has been pushing for more integration of Hong Kong into the mainland prompting unrest and protest by the Hong Kong people.
The latest Protest began at the end of March when an Extradition bill was proposed by the government of Hong Kong that would enable China to extradite people who have committed a crime in mainland China from Hong Kong. This is a major issue to the people of Hong Kong as many everyday civil liberties can be considered an offense in mainland China stoking fear that mainland China’s censorship could come to the island indirectly. This prompted the protests that we see today as even as the bill in question is currently suspended the people of Hong Kong are still protesting to have it removed entirely trying to curb the mainland influence on Hong Kong politics. This has left the Business leaders in a rather precarious situation.
Currently Hong Kong is unrest protests are a daily occurrence with no end in sight and no one is aware if or when the mainland forces of China will be called into the region. All of this creates a negative atmosphere to do business. Recently the protestors occupied Hong Kong’s international airport causing delays and cancellations of multiple flights. For business the end of the protest would mean back to normal. The line however is drawn on how to end the protest, business in Hong Kong walk a fine line. On one end supporting mainland China’s policies would allow for the investments to continue to flow into the region and potentially end the protest faster but would cost Hong Kong the precious autonomy that its citizens prize. Alternatively supporting the protest to push off mainland politics doesn’t seem likely as it could hurt their bottom line as the Mainland could pull out investments in the region. Recently Hong Kong lowered its GDP growth report to between 0% and 1% from 2% to 3%. For now at least the protests do not seem to be coming to an end, neither side will step down and business is expected to slow down in the city as the unrest grows.
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