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Downturn to hit Hong Kong like a 'tsunami', as China slaps warning on Cathay

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Downturn to hit Hong Kong like a 'tsunami', as China slaps warning on Cathay

By Noah Sin and Clare Jim

 

2019-08-09T175011Z_1_LYNXNPEF781QX_RTROPTP_4_HONGKONG-PROTESTS.JPG

An anti-extradition bill protester burns a joss paper depicting Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during Hungry Ghost Festival at Wong Tai Sin, in Hong Kong, China August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

 

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong's protests are hitting its economy, the city's leader Carrie Lam said on Friday, echoing warnings from business leaders including powerful local property developers, as about 1,000 mostly young activists occupied the airport arrivals hall.

 

China, whose rule over the city is being challenged by the protests, meanwhile demanded Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways <0293.HK> suspend staff involved in the demonstrations. One of its pilots was arrested last week.

 

The pair of warnings -- one aimed at residents planning more marches still and the other at a business emblematic of the city's colonial past -- mark a toughening stance by authorities as they grapple with Hong Kong's deepest crisis in decades.

 

Flanked by business leaders, Chief Executive Lam told reporters that companies in the Asian financial hub were "very worried" about the economic fallout from the protests, which began in June and have become increasingly violent.

 

"We have had two months of political dispute," she said after meeting business representatives and senior officials, warning that a downturn "is coming very quickly".

 

"Some people have described it as coming like a tsunami ... the economic recovery will take a long time," Lam said.

 

What started as an angry response to a now-suspended measure for criminal suspects to be extradited for trial in China has rapidly broadened to encompass calls for more democracy, Lam's resignation, and even keeping out mainland tourists.

 

The protests represent a populist challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, just as an escalating trade war between China and the United States also hammers Hong Kong's economy.

 

CATHAY WARNING

 

China's warning on Cathay, saying crew who engaged in the protests pose a threat to safety and should be suspended from staffing flights to the mainland, follows the pilot's arrest and tumbling bookings.

 

Cathay has said it is taking the directive seriously, though when asked about staff participating in protests last week, Chairman John Slosar said the company "wouldn't dream" of telling staff "what to think about something".

 

Dozens of other Hong Kong companies have warned of faltering earnings, while city officials caution daily that the protests are hurting livelihoods and could help trigger a recession.

 

Lam said the city's Executive Council would next week resume meetings suspended in mid-June to prepare a policy response that would consider "daring measures".

 

"For Hong Kong's society to recover the foundation is the same (as that of the economy)," she said. "We must stop the widespread violence."

 

She urged landlords to ease rents on hard-pressed retailers, but dismissed demands for an inquiry into police behaviour at demonstrations.

 

"I disagree with (establishing) an independent inquiry that targets police work," she said. "I don't think we should just sort of make concessions in order to silence the violent protesters."

 

'BROKEN CITY'

 

Young people have been at the forefront of the protests, worried about China encroaching on Hong Kong's freedoms but also concerned with issues such as sky-high living costs and what many see as an unfair housing policy favouring the wealthy.

 

Soaring property prices have pushed up rents and had a knock-on effect on prices of goods and services. Last year, Oxfam said the city's income inequality was at its highest in more than four decades.

 

Hong Kong's property developers spoke out for the first time on Friday, urging calm in a statement signed by 17 companies, including CK Asset Holdings Ltd <1113.HK>, founded by property tycoon Li Ka-shing, the city's richest man.

 

At the airport, protesters sang "Do You Hear the People Sing?" from the musical "Les Miserables" and chanted:

"Democracy now" and "Hong Kongers, add oil!" — a popular exhortation in Cantonese.

 

There was no visible police presence. Seeking to engage tourists, activists handed out anti-government leaflets and waved banners in a dozen languages.

 

"It will be a peaceful protest as long as the police do not show up," Charlotte Lam, 16, told Reuters.

 

"We have made stickers, banners in over 16 languages, ranging from Japanese to Spanish. We want to spread our message internationally. We are not rioters, we are a group of Hong Kong people fighting for human rights and freedom."

 

OLD COP ON THE BEAT

 

Marches are planned across Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories over the weekend, where protesters could see a shift in police tactics.

 

To help deal with the protests, Hong Kong has recalled from retirement a police commander who oversaw the response to pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014.

 

Alan Lau Yip-shing will handle large public events, including activities to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on Oct. 1, the government said in a statement.

 

The escalating violence has already prompted travel warnings from countries including the United States and Australia, although the airport demonstration did not prompt complaints.

 

"I don't really know what to think about the protest," said Joyce, a New Zealander.

 

"Right now I just hope it won't delay my flight. But at the same time, as long as you're making a point without making too much trouble, it's OK."

 

(Reporting By Anne Marie Roantree, Noah Sin, Donny Kwok, Clare Jim, Felix Tam, Lukas Job and Farah Master; Writing by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Darren Schuettler, Clarence Fernandez and Catherine Evans)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-08-10

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5 minutes ago, JimmyTheMook said:

When you wake a sleeping dragon....

More like when a fire breathing dragon takes a deep breath......

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3 hours ago, quadperfect said:

I got cought up in this mess a few days ago. After a 14 hour flight from usa my phuket transfer flight was cancelled. I stood 6 hours in a mob like line to be told no flights today and maybe not tomorrow either. No help at all. A flat out failure on cathey pacific. They left me stranded with no hotel or any remorse. I was able to book a air asia flight for 250 usd that departed 15 hours after i landed with cathey. Cathey lost my bags for 3 days and show no remorse. What a pathetic airline.

I usually fly china airlines,or korean or malaysia  but last year tried cathey. They seemed ok but after this i will never fly cathey again. I will never go to hong kong again. Its a pathetic airport with no seating and no nothin.

Thaipe,korea,malaysia all way better airports.

Shame on cathey pacific staff. They were hostile and i nearly was cought in a riot of passengers standing in a line of a thousand people all pushing and shoving.

Cathey you are the worst airline i have ever flown. I hope this government puts you down like a rock. Thanks for nothing cathey.

It's not all bad. (I guess I'm not supposed to name) But like the city! " airline" is offering BKK to SFO business class for under $1800 RT. Great Planes and around $600 RT economy class. I found flights up to about Oct. 4th. Must be due to the bad press? A few days ago it was over $3,400RT business class. I went through that airport recently and found it was just fine. Use a credit card that takes care of you when this stuff happens!

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6 hours ago, rooster59 said:

a downturn "is coming very quickly".

That's good.

China's interest in Hong Kong is its financial strength and stability.

A long term economic downturn might "chase" China away, albeit hard on the Hong Kong economy but maybe that's the price for freedom?

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...and the plot thickens... love the appeal President defend our democracy...

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China knows Hong Kong is a major economic breadwinner....

they will in no way wish to damage that ability with the stress they 

are already under .. they would have moved in with their army if there was no danger of an economic tsunami........

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, zydeco said:

It must be horrible when a social protest against a totalitarian Chinese Communist dictatorship with designs on destroying people's freedom and liberty just ruins Bwana's day.


Let's get real here.
So, six or seven million Chinese in Hong Kong might be having some of their freedom restricted. Most people who are not from Hong Kong don't really care. If the media wants to talk about freedom in Hong Kong, what about freedom in mainland China ?

Them people in Vietnam, have they got the same freedom as Hong Kong ? What about Cambodia ? What about Laos ? What about Burma ? Why not talk about them ?

Why is the media making a big deal about protests in Hong Kong, protests about democracy and freedom, when such protests would not even be allowed in most countries in South East Asia ? It's BECAUSE the media in America and Europe is making a big deal about the protests in Hong Kong, giving coverage to the protests, that's whats encouraging the kids in Hong Kong to do these demonstrations.

And yes, these demonstrations are harming Hong Kong's economy. It's not surprising that tourists don't want to visit Hong Kong because of these riots/protests by these kids. Is Beijing going to give "independence" to Hong Kong because of these riots/protests ?  Off-course not.

Edited by tonbridgebrit
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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, quadperfect said:

I got cought up in this mess a few days ago. After a 14 hour flight from usa my phuket transfer flight was cancelled. I stood 6 hours in a mob like line to be told no flights today and maybe not tomorrow either. No help at all. A flat out failure on cathey pacific. They left me stranded with no hotel or any remorse. I was able to book a air asia flight for 250 usd that departed 15 hours after i landed with cathey. Cathey lost my bags for 3 days and show no remorse. What a pathetic airline.

I usually fly china airlines,or korean or malaysia  but last year tried cathey. They seemed ok but after this i will never fly cathey again. I will never go to hong kong again. Its a pathetic airport with no seating and no nothin.

Thaipe,korea,malaysia all way better airports.

Shame on cathey pacific staff. They were hostile and i nearly was cought in a riot of passengers standing in a line of a thousand people all pushing and shoving.

Cathey you are the worst airline i have ever flown. I hope this government puts you down like a rock. Thanks for nothing cathey.


You got caught up in this mess, and I have sympathy for you. You want to blast Cathay Pacific, but Cathay are responsible for the riots/protests.  So Cathay's handling of the situation, Cathay's treatment towards their passengers was not good. Well, maybe you're right. But I will simply say, any other place, any other other airline, the treatment given by the airline would have probably been the same.

The advice for all tourists and travellers is, avoid Hong Kong. You are not going to enjoy Hong Kong with these riots/protests going on.

Let's hope the kids who are doing these riots, let's hope they see sense, and stop this nonsense soon.

Edited by tonbridgebrit
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