A demonstrator holding an umbrella walks past a fire from a gasoline bomb in Tsim Sha Tsui on Nov 18, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

HONG KONG — Continued violent activities targeting shops and passersby have disrupted business order and led to job losses, threatening the livelihood of numerous families in Hong Kong, the financial chief said on Sunday.

Despite signs of recovery in restaurants and shops, rioters still committed violent acts recently, occupying shopping malls, trashing stores, and even assaulting residents with different opinions, Financial Secretary Paul Chan of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government said in an online article.

Chan said such acts caused more job losses and stressed that it was the aged and kids of the unemployed’s families who suffered the most.

Hong Kong’s jobless rate worsened to 3.2 percent in the September-November period, up from 2.8 percent in the previous three months. The jobless rate in the catering sector rose to an eight-year high of 6.2 percent, meaning that more than 15,000 people lost their jobs.

Businesses struggling in the economic winter have appealed for an end to violence and are looking forward to a favorable turn in upcoming sales peak during the Christmas and the New Year holidays. However, concerns have also been on the rise about a wave of closures of shops and restaurants if lingering unrest dashes the hope.

The Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund has received nearly 3,000 applications during the past 12 months, of which 1,158 came from the construction sector, 716 from the catering sector and 233 from retail sales, Chan said.

Chan said disputes can only be resolved through dialogue and mutual understanding, and he called for joint efforts from the community to ensure peaceful holidays in a bid to give battered industries a chance to revive.

More than 300,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises employ about 1.3 million people in Hong Kong.