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Hong Kong is trying to improve its image in Davos

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Hong Kong Chief Executive Carey Lam defended the financial position’s reputation at the Davos conference Friday, saying “Hong Kong will return to normal” after the recession as a result of months of protests and the emergence of the emerging Corona virus.

After the virus infected more than 800 people in China, and detected two cases of the virus in Hong Kong, Lam said, “We learned from the past,” referring to the prevalence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) 17 years ago, which resulted in the death of 299 people in City.

Lam promised to hold a daily press conference on the virus, and confirmed, “We have a treatment protocol, we have resources, we have isolation units in public hospitals.”

The CEO of the World Economic Conference, which brings together the global economic elite in Switzerland, stressed that Hong Kong remains an “important financial center”.

She led a large delegation comprising Hong Kong employers and political officials.

“Hong Kong is suitable for trade (…) We have the largest market for capital in Asia, which is the most liquid and diversified,” said Hexhex chief financial officer Laura Sha at a dinner, during which he also showed a video showing the city’s strengths.

In the video, bad and deserted roads appear under a stormy sky, suddenly a sun shining on the island’s skyscrapers and the slogan “We are standing up. (…) We will return to our normal state.”

The former British colony, which was returned to China in 1997 and still has a large degree of independence, has been experiencing massive demonstrations since the beginning of June 2019, sometimes gathering millions of supporters of democracy.

These demonstrations, in addition to the repercussions of the trade war between China and the United States, led to a decline in tourism and consumption, which led to an economic recession (growth fell to 2.9 percent of GDP in the third quarter of the year).

– “The absence of concrete programs” –

Because of public pressure and discontent, Carrie Lam in Davos promised to set up an “independent commission” to discuss the social causes of the protests, acknowledging that rents had become too expensive and that differences between citizens had become vast.

But Lam also recalled the red lines of political demands, “Hong Kong is not a country, but a special administrative region” affiliated with China.

The chief executive ruled out submitting her resignation because “leaving the post of CEO vacant will only lead to more chaos and confusion (…) at a time when Hong Kong must tackle the recession and political discontent and now the health crisis.”

But these assurances may not be enough to calm the business community affected by the escalation of protests.

On Monday, Moody’s downgraded the Hong Kong rating and criticized “the absence of concrete programs to address people’s political, economic and social concerns” and the authorities’ “slow, hesitant and inconclusive” response.

Lamm told CNBC upon her arrival in Davos that Moody’s decision was “very disappointing.”

– “Threatened” reputation.

Four months ago, Fitch downgraded the sovereign rating of Hong Kong, and justified it by doubts about greater integration with the mainland.

Hong Kong’s independent judicial system has made a significant contribution to making it one of the largest financial centers in Asia, but the protesters denounce the increasing interference of China.

At the end of November, the US Congress passed a resolution supporting “human rights and democracy” in Hong Kong in the face of pressure from Beijing, and threatening to cancel the island’s special economic situation.

“In the long run, I think as a businessman Hong Kong will thrive,” David Shiyo, president of the Far East Consortium, said Thursday in Davos.

He added that this was due to the fact that China “remains the best industrialized country” in the world, and expressed his conviction that Hong Kong will remain the inevitable gateway used by western capitals to enter China.

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