Lam in Davos to convince global leaders Hong Kong back to business
HONG KONG, Jan 21: For Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam this week's World Economic Forum in Davos is a chance to convince global business and political leaders that the Asian financial hub is back on track.
After more than seven months of turmoil Hong Kong's status as a financial center has come under scrutiny as sometimes violent demonstrations paralyzed parts of the city and forced businesses to close, posing the gravest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he took power in 2012.
Lam and "Team HK", including its trade secretary, top officials from the stock exchange, airport authority, MTR Corp and the head of Swire Group, are in the Swiss mountain resort two days after another violent clash and more are planned for the weekend of her return.
"The biggest concern for foreign investors is around the long-term position of Hong Kong as a global financial center," said Benjamin Quinlan, CEO of Hong Kong-based consultancy Quinlan & Associates and a former Deutsche Bank strategist.
"More importantly, there are questions around whether the fundamental, underlying rule of law in the city will be maintained ... and whether it will stand the test of time."
Since its return to Beijing in 1997, the former British colony has been governed under a "one country, two systems" formula that guarantees it broad freedoms not seen in mainland China, including an independent judiciary and free press.
Those liberties, which protesters say Beijing is gradually chipping away at, are widely viewed as central to the city's prosperity and any erosion could have a significant impact on its status as an international financial center. Beijing denies meddling in Hong Kong's affairs and accuses Western governments of fomenting the crisis.
Another challenge in 2020 will be to tame the protest movement, which kicked off the year with a rally that organizers said drew 1 million people, and bolster support for the beleaguered government ahead of key elections in September.
On Sunday, police fired teargas to disperse thousands gathered in Chater Garden, a small open park ringed by the Asian headquarters of leading global investment banks and law firms. -Reuters