Economic difficulties often serve as the blasting fuse for public anger. But in Hong Kong it has been the other way round. The public anger that has been deliberately sparked to create trouble for China has caused trials and tribulations for the special administrative region’s economy.
Thanks to the chaos since early June, to the delight of a few and the distress of many, the city has slipped into a technical recession.
Two barometers for the vitality of the SAR’s economy offer a grim outlook, as they registered their biggest falls in a single month on record in October. The sales revenue of the city’s retail industry dropped 24.3 percent and the number of visitors was down 43.7 percent, compared with the same period last year. Even if the situation were to be settled now, it would take time for the economy to recover.
And it should be clear to all, including the inciters of the chaos and their expendable pawns, that if Hong Kong’s economic decline continues, they will not be spared the effects.
The damage being done to the SAR’s economy should ring the alarm bell for all stakeholders that the city’s future will be bleak if the violence persists.
No snowflake will be innocent in the forseeable avalanche.
Which is why, when Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor vowed on Tuesday to carry out the fourth round of relief measures in recent months to help Hong Kong weather its economic hardships, she was right to single out the United States’ troublemaking as being particularly injurious to the SAR’s economy.
Business sentiment is already pessimistic, but the legislation introduced by the US in support of the rioters increases the uncertainties denting confidence, because “corporates will be worried about the actions the US government may take in the future after it reviews this legislation”.
The SAR government is doing its bit to shore up the economy. Its latest economic support measures to help businesses and residents, include reduction of water and sewage services charges, subsidies on power use and tax payments in installments. These bring the government’s total pledged amount of relief to HK$25 billion ($3.2 billion).
But what is needed to facilitate economic recovery is concerted efforts from all sectors of the community to stop the violence and chaos and the withdrawal of the dirty hands from outside the SAR that have been stirring up the trouble.
It is in the interests of all Hong Kong residents to stand together to boycott violence and reject the city’s role as a pawn in the West’s geopolitical games, before they end up paying too high tuition fees to learn the true nature of their plight.