Hong Kong enters recession as protests show no sign of relenting

It would be ‘extremely difficult’ to achieve the government’s pre-protest forecast of zero to one percent annual economic growth, a Hong Kong official said. (AFP)
Updated 28 October 2019

Hong Kong enters recession as protests show no sign of relenting

  • ‘The blow to our economy is comprehensive,’ Paul Chan, the city’s financial secretary, said in a blog
  • It would be ‘extremely difficult’ to achieve the government’s pre-protest forecast of zero to one percent annual economic growth

HONG KONG: Hong Kong has fallen into recession, hit by more than five months of anti-government protests that show no signs of relenting, and is unlikely to achieve annual economic growth this year, the city’s financial secretary said.
“The blow to our economy is comprehensive,” Paul Chan said in a blog post on Sunday, adding that a preliminary estimate for third-quarter GDP on Thursday would show two successive quarters of contraction — the technical definition of a recession.
He also said it would be “extremely difficult” to achieve the government’s pre-protest forecast of zero to one percent annual economic growth.
Protests in the former British colony have reached their 21st week. On Sunday, black-clad and masked demonstrators set fire to shops and hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets.
Protesters have routinely torched store fronts and businesses including banks, particularly those owned by mainland Chinese companies and vandalized the city’s metro system MTR Corp. as they view it as acting at the government’s behest to curtail protests.
The MTR has shut services early for the past few weeks and said it will close around two hours earlier than normal on Monday by 11 p.m. to repair damaged facilities.
Tourists numbers have plummeted, a decline Chan called an “emergency” with the drop in visitor numbers worsening in October, down nearly 50 percent.
Retail operators, from prime shopping malls to mom and pop businesses, have been forced to shutter for multiple days over the past few months.
While authorities have announced measures to support local small and medium-sized enterprises, Chan said the measures could only “slightly reduce the pressure.”
“Let citizens return to normal life, let industry and commerce to operate normally, and create more space for rational dialogue,” he wrote.
Protesters are angry about what they view as increasing interference by Beijing in Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula intended to guarantee freedoms not seen on the mainland.
China denies meddling. It has accused foreign governments, including the United States and Britain, of stirring up trouble.


Apple, Google drop Fortnite from app stores over payments

Updated 14 August 2020

Apple, Google drop Fortnite from app stores over payments

  • Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store
  • Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games

NEW YORK: Apple and Google dropped the popular game Fortnite from their app stores after the game’s developer introduced a direct payment plan that bypasses their platforms.
Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games, which has long been a sore spot with developers.
Fortnite is free, but users can pay for in game accoutrements like weapons and skins. Its developer, Epic Games, said in a blog post Thursday that it was introducing Epic Direct payments, a direct payment plan for Apple’s iOS and Google Play. Epic said the system is the same payment system it already uses to process payments on PC and Mac computers and Android phones.
Apple and Google said the service violates their guidelines.
“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services,” Apple said in statement.
Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store. Android users can download the app from other app stores, although that’s generally not an option for iPhone users.
Epic Games did not immediately return a request for comment. Epic’s Fortnite Twitter account said the company would debut a new short film called “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” a seeming parody of Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial that introduced the Macintosh computer. It has also filed a complaint against Apple in the US District Court in Northern California for dropping Fortnite.