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Hong Kong people

Asian hub

Hong Kong: a city on hold 

Published 28 February 2022 in Asian hub • 5 min read

Despite all that Hong Kong has gone through in the last three years, the city’s core business strengths remain, says Tara Joseph, the outgoing head of the city’s American Chamber of Commerce. But faced with closed borders, a stilltobedigested national security law, and the aftermath of its anti-government protests, it may take years before once again it can capitalize on them fully. 

 

 

Hong Kong has undergone a lot in the last two-and-a-half years: protests, the Beijing-imposed national security law and a strict zero-Covid policy. How is it holding up as an international business center? 

 

It’s been an intense period for Hong Kong. The combination of protests, political change and Covid has had a severe impact on everybody.  

But as an international business center, Hong Kong still has some key advantages. While people can’t travel and connect, money can still flow, and China is too big a market for people to abandon.  

Despite all of the difficulties that still loom over the place, many people will sit through this difficult period to engage in the delicate dance between politics and business and try to figure out ways to make business happen, especially in financial services and logistics. 

Coupled with this, we have the development of the Greater Bay Area – the economic integration of Hong Kong and Macau with the major cities of south China. Many people see this as a fresh opportunity to develop. 

 

Has the national security law had any kind of significant impact on how international business views Hong Kong? 

 

The law has had an impact on confidence and comfort. It affects confidence when it comes to the rule of law and in areas such as data security. It’s vague, which makes it difficult for companies and people to know how it could be enacted on business. It adds worries about how the court system may have to adapt, even though currently contract law and business law seem to be at the same international standards as they always were.  

It also adds concern that Western firms may be under more under the microscope in a way they weren’t before. The complete sense of safety and lack of risk in Hong Kong has given way to a new normal in which maybe there needs to be a Plan B – that perhaps there is some risk inherent in being in Hong Kong. It’s impossible to ignore it and it’s changed Hong Kong to being ever closer with China. This is the new reality. 

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