Hong Kong financial secretary Paul Chan has said in his blog post, the region is currently in recession following months of anti-government protests, adding it is unlikely for the city to achieve annual economic growth this year and call fall in tourism an ‘emergency’.
“The blow to our economy is comprehensive. The government will be announcing its advance estimates for the third quarter on Thursday. After seeing negative growth in the second quarter, the situation continued in the third quarter, meaning our economy has entered technical recession,” Chan said in a blog post on Sunday.
“It seems it will be extremely difficult for us to reach full-year economic growth of 0 to 1 percent. I would not rule out the possibility that the full-year economic growth will be negative,” he wrote.
The number of tourists coming to Hong Kong has recently plummeted, a decline which the secretary called an “emergency” with the drop in visitor arrivals worsening in October, down nearly 50 percent.
Retail operators, from prime shopping malls to family businesses, have been forced to close for 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.
Protests in the former British colony have reached their 21st week. Only last Sunday, black-clad and masked demonstrators set fire to shops and threw petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets.
Protesters have routinely torched shops and businesses including banks, particularly those owned by mainland Chinese companies, and vandalised the city’s metro system MTR Corp because they view it as acting at the government’s behest to curtail protests.
Protesters are angry about 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. (Source: The Guardian)