Expats ‘Extremely Worried’ Over Hong Kong Protests

  • The reason for Hong Kong residents concern is that the effects of the eleven-week-long protests have begun to affect the Hong Kong economy.
  • Students and the general public have all supported the movement.
  • In recent days, many of Hong Kong's largest businesses have made statements calling for tensions and violence to stop.

Concerns about China’s intervention to suppress the democratic movement in Hong Kong for nearly three months have been growing. Although analysts say the move could pose a major risk to China; It is difficult at this time to even speculate what the possible consequences of this might be.

Hong Kong has become one of the world’s most significant financial centers and commercial ports. It was estimated to be the world’s tenth-largest exporter, ninth-largest importer, and seventh-largest trading entity, and its legal tender (the Hong Kong dollar) is the world’s 13th-most traded currency. Hong Kong hosts the largest concentration of ultra high-net-worth individuals of any city in the world, and has one of the world’s highest per capita incomes, but it also has severe income inequality.

However,  there is an indication that China is preparing to intervene in the Hong Kong crisis. Over the past few days, China has tightened its stance against protesters, commenting sharply against them, even comparing them to “terrorists.” The reason for Hong Kong residents concern is that the effects of the eleven-week-long protests have begun to affect the Hong Kong economy. About 20 percent of Hong Kong’s economy is dependent on tourism and retail businesses, and these two sectors are the most affected by the protests.

Syed Ikram Elahi, a Bangladeshi businessman, has lived in Hong Kong for 25 years. “Personally, my business has suffered a lot,” Mr. Elahi said. “Our business partners are scared. They are a little afraid to give us business. They see that we are having a problem here. They worry about whether we can actually export their goods properly. They order our fabric and accessories.”

Elahi said there was no opportunity for the administration to talk to the businessmen at the moment because now the situation is out of control. According to him, there is nothing the police or Hong Kong government can do to suppress the protests. “Students and the general public have all supported the movement. Many have taken to the protest. As long as the situation is not calm, trade and commerce will continue to deteriorate.

Analysts say Hong Kong financial sector officials, airport staff, and most important government officials have joined the protests and strikes. As a result, the business activities of this important Asian trading city have been greatly impacted. If China intervenes in Hong Kong and uses force against the protesters there, then China will have to pay a heavy price, he says.

“Hong Kong’s special status as an important center for international trade and the free port area will be greatly affected and its impact will be far-reaching,” says Elahi. “China will have to face a great deal of criticism internationally. Western countries will have to rethink their contact with China, and China’s position in the world and its economy will suffer huge losses.”

Hong Kong is classified as an alpha+ global city, indicating its influence throughout the world. It is one of the most significant global financial centers, holding the highest Financial Development Index score and consistently ranking as the most competitive and freest economic area in the world in 2012, 2016, and 2017. The city has the largest number of skyscrapers, most surrounding Victoria Harbour. It consistently ranks high on the Human Development Index, and has one of the world’s highest life expectancies.

Elahi also believes that China will not take such a step even if it is firmly prepared to deal with the problem. “China has invested heavily in Hong Kong. China’s contribution to Hong Kong’s economic development is huge.” He doesn’t think the business community will allow China to react too strongly. “Hopefully, there will be a solution.”

Fahmida Majumder has been a Bangladeshi housewife in Hong Kong for five years. She was telling reporters that Hong Kong was a peaceful and secure city for business and even for living. The recent protests have raised concerns for her and many Bangladeshi families living there like her. “What concerns the outcome of this Hong Kong protest is the direction the situation will take. I am concerned about the future of my children as a mother. We are currently suffering from insecurity.”

“Many of my children’s friends are from Hong Kong. They are taking part in the protests. There is concern about whether my children will get involved in the protests. If the Hong Kong administration falls into China’s hands, what will the future of our children stand for? We are having a day of uncertainty and fear. ” Majumder says a large proportion of Bangladeshis in Hong Kong are involved in various types of businesses. If the protests are prolonged and they have a negative impact on the economy, it could become a cause for concern for Bangladesh people.

Recently, Hong Kong’s richest businessman Lee Ka-shing has placed several full-page ads in newspapers calling for an end to the movement, which is opposed to a controversial extradition law in Hong Kong. In recent days, many of Hong Kong’s largest businesses have made similar statements, calling for tensions and violence to stop.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.


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