Hong Kong leader: Financial hub’s strengths intact despite protests

Protests in Hong Kong escalated in June over a since-withdrawn bill which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. (Reuters)
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Updated 13 January 2020

Hong Kong leader: Financial hub’s strengths intact despite protests

  • Protests in Hong Kong escalated in June over a since-withdrawn bill which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China
  • Carrie Lam confident the Asian financial hub will bridge divisions

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s strengths as a global financial hub have not been undermined by months of pro-democracy protests, the Chinese-ruled city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said on Monday.
Protests in Hong Kong escalated in June over a since-withdrawn bill which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, where courts are controlled by the Communist Party. They have since broadened to include demands such as universal suffrage.
Speaking at the opening of a regional financial forum, Lam said the city’s financial system remained stable thanks to lessons learnt since the Asian financial crisis. Lam cited the listing of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. as a boon for other listings by mainland companies.
The city’s “strengths and resilience, just like our financial systems, have not been undermined despite (the fact) that we experienced considerable social unrest and challenges,” Lam said.
She added she was confident the Asian financial hub will bridge divisions, and realize its goals of a reunited community and “flourishing” economy.
Finance Secretary Paul Chan, speaking at the same event, said Hong Kong’s banking system was running smoothly and had ample liquidity despite the city facing “unprecedented” turbulence.
Many protests involved violent clashes between protesters and the police on central streets lined by the city’s tallest towers hosting top finance companies.
Some financial firms have been caught in the middle, with branches of mainland banks repeatedly vandalized as protesters vented their anger at what they perceive as Beijing meddling in the city’s affairs, an accusation denied by Beijing which blames the West for fomenting unrest.
HSBC has also drawn the ire of some protesters who accuse it of being complicit in action by the authorities against activists trying to raise money to support their campaign. HSBC strongly denies any connection.
Hurt by a tariff war between Washington and Beijing, and with protests hurting tourism and retail sales, Hong Kong’s economy has fallen into recession and relies on its finance industry to prevent a deeper downturn.
Chan said the government was considering a more “competitive” tax arrangement to attract private equity funds to the city and further relief measures to prop up the economy, without offering further details.


Emirates launches airbridge between Dubai, Lebanon emergency relief 

Updated 14 August 2020

Emirates launches airbridge between Dubai, Lebanon emergency relief 

  • Customers of Emirates will be able to donate cash or pledge their Skywards Miles to the airline for the aid
  • Emirates SkyCargo will also provide 20 percent reduction on air freight transportation charges for approved shipments

DUBAI: UAE national carrier Emirates SkyCargo plans to ramp up its freighter operations to Lebanon with 50 flights to deliver emergency relief in the wake of the Beirut port blast that killed nearly 200 people.
Customers of Emirates will be able to donate cash or pledge their Skywards Miles to the airline for the aid, state news agency WAM reported.
The Emirates Airline Foundation will coordinate shipments of urgent food, medical supplies with NGO partners to ensure donations directly help those affected on the ground.
Emirates SkyCargo will also provide 20 percent reduction on air freight transportation charges for approved shipments, underscoring its commitment to expedite emergency relief efforts to Beirut.
“Today, the world is banding together to stand in solidarity with Lebanon, providing urgent relief and immediate recovery support to those affected by this tragic disaster,” Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, said. 
“Emirates supports the UAE’s ongoing humanitarian efforts to support Lebanon and is committed to bolster its global emergency response to ensure that it can support organizations which provide urgent care, shelter, food and medical support to the Lebanese people,” he added. 
Emirates said that it had dispatched several charter flights carrying food, clothing and medical supplies donated by various grassroots organizations in the UAE to Lebanon.