Hong Kong risks global status as Singapore opens up to world

Hong Kong risks global status as Singapore opens up to world

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) – The divide between Asia’s two main financial hubs in handling the pandemic is growing ever wider, with one opening up to global travel and the other maintaining one of the world’s harshest quarantine policies.

In Singapore, officials are taking steps to reconnect with the global economy even as the government faces pressure to favor locals over foreigners for well-paying jobs. Speaking in a televised address over the weekend, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore can’t stay “locked down and closed off indefinitely” and residents should prepare to see “many Covid-19 cases for some time to come.”

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has taken the opposite approach, stressing in a Bloomberg Television interview on Monday (Oct 11) that even a single death would be a “major concern” as she follows China’s Covid Zero approach that tolerates no local infections. While expressing concern about the city’s reputation, Lam said she was “duty bound to protect my people” and businesses in any case saw Hong Kong as a gateway to the mainland.

The divergence is raising questions about Hong Kong’s future as a regional hub, particularly among an expat business community that for years has bounced back-and-forth between the former British colonies known for low tax rates, friendly labor laws and easy immigration policies. Even fully vaccinated residents in Hong Kong face a mandatory 21-day hotel stay if they visit locations like the United States and UK, while Singapore is starting to allow quarantine-free travel to those places and more.

A Facebook post on Saturday captured the ennui many are feeling in Hong Kong. In a group with 55,000 members to support those stuck in quarantine, one member wrote that the city’s restaurants, bars, beaches and hiking trails were getting monotonous, and many residents who see life returning to normal in Europe or the US often don’t want to come back.

“I was born here and have lived in this beautiful city for 36 years, but I can’t go on anymore. I can’t take it,” the person wrote in the post, which had more than 1,000 likes and nearly 500 comments as of Monday afternoon. “The thing is if there was any semblance of hope – on X date we will open up – then the atmosphere here would be buzzing. But the feeling is there is no hope or end in sight.”

Hong Kong’s strict travel policies show just how much its leaders are keen to impress Beijing, which has moved to eliminate dissent following sometimes-violent pro-democracy protests in 2019. But quarantines are required even for travel to the mainland and there’s no clear criteria for easing restrictions, leaving the business community with nowhere to go that doesn’t involve a lengthy time locked in a hotel room.

Danny Lau, who runs a factory in Guangdong province across the China border that manufactures construction materials mostly for US clients, said “Hong Kong could easily be taken over by Singapore” as Asia’s international financial hub if it continues with its Covid Zero policy.

“We of course welcome the Singapore model because it’s very difficult to eradicate Covid,” said Mr Lau, who serves as honorary chairman of the Hong Kong Small and Medium Enterprises Association. “There may still be cases after five years. Are you going to close the border for five years?”

Ms Lam and other Hong Kong officials say the policies are popular with the public and have worked in suppressing the virus: The city has seen less than 12,300 cases and only 213 deaths throughout the entire pandemic. Disputing accusations that Hong Kong can’t autonomously set policy, Ms Lam said on Monday the city was doing “very well” as a financial centre. Last week she said the mainland was “more important” than international business.

But the travel policies are adding to concerns for businesses in Hong Kong, which were already facing a China-backed clampdown on free speech, questions about the independence of the judiciary and an education system now focused on patriotism.

Hong Kong saw a record outflow of 89,200 residents in the year that ended in June, while the latest annual government survey showed the number of US-based firms in the city fell for a third straight year to 1,267 – down 6.2 per cent from 2018. And while the overall number of companies with foreign parents has risen to a record of 9,049 this year – a statistic Ms Lam cited on Monday as a sign of the city’s competitiveness – data show the increases have come mostly from China.

In one survey, the American Chamber of Commerce said more than 40 per cent of its members were considering leaving the city. Amcham’s president, Tara Joseph, told Bloomberg News last week that lobbying the Hong Kong government to reopen was like “talking to a wall.”

“We’re looking toward the second Christmas in a row when not many families will be traveling home, and that doesn’t help the overall confidence of decision makers in Hong Kong,” said Frederik Gollob, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. He said many companies were discussing measures short of moving their businesses, including relocating people to the mainland or moving certain jobs to other places like Singapore.

That may not be so easy. Singapore has toughened up its immigration policies, increasing scrutiny of banks, fund managers, management consultancies and other firms suspected of “discriminatory hiring practices” that pass over locals for foreigners. In August, Prime Minister Lee pledged to tighten restrictions on foreign workers and raise wages for low-income labourers as the city-state recovers from a pandemic-induced recession.

Singapore has also seen its population drop for a second consecutive year, primarily due to an exodus of foreign workers, students and residents amid tight Covid controls.

Still, in Hong Kong the business community is worried. Felix Chung, a pro-establishment lawmaker who represents the textile industry in the Legislative Council, said Hong Kong “cannot disconnect with the rest of the world” if it’s going to be an international financial center.

“Singapore, as a rival to Hong Kong, will definitely take the chance to grab as many of our businesses as possible,” he said. “It’s a threat to Hong Kong.”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Russian petro firms eye mining cryptocurrencies at oil extraction site

Russian oil producers will organize cryptocurrency mining next to their extraction sites to generate electricity from excess gas released in minting coins. The excess gas, classified as associated petroleum gas, ... Read more »

Capital Convertibility | RBI is moving ahead, one step at a time

Reserve Bank of India Speeches of central bankers are tracked widely across the financial markets. While speeches by central bankers from developed countries are tracked for economic outlook, and possible ... Read more »

Walmart now offers bitcoin at 200 of its stores

To buy bitcoin at Walmart, customers must open an account with cryptocurrency exchange Coinme. Bitcoin could now be purchased at Walmart through Coinstar kiosks located inside 200 of its stores ... Read more »

S. Korea's solar power capacity soars under Moon

South Korea’s newly installed 13,980 MW solar power capacity that started when President Moon Jae-in took office in 2017. South Korea’s cumulative solar power capacity surged with the newly installed ... Read more »

US Treasury Dept says crypto challenges efficacy of sanctions

The US Treasury Department wants more funding for its financial intelligence and sanctions units and staff to combat national security threats. The US Department of the Treasury warned that the ... Read more »

Iran prepares to pilot national cryptocurrency

the Iranian central bank digital currency (CBDC).  Iran is preparing for the pilot phase of its digital currency project once the country's Money and Credit Council approves, according to the ... Read more »

Prices of goods set to rise further, consumer companies warn

GENEVA (BLOOMBERG) – Consumers around the world are about to get socked with even higher prices on everyday items, companies from food giant Unilever to lubricant maker WD-40 warned this ... Read more »

Russia may partially replace dollar reserves with cryptocurrency to counter US sanctions

Russia Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin wants protection and stability for Russia’s “settlements with major trading partners” regarding currency used.  Russia is pondering on partially replacing the US dollar in ... Read more »

Japan consumer prices rise for first time in 18 months on energy, material costs

Shoppers wearing protective masks choose clothes at a supermarket as the mall reopens amid the coronavirus outbreak in Chiba, Japan on May 28, 2020. TOKYO (REUTERS) – Japan’s core consumer ... Read more »

S. Korea to protect virtual reality, augmented reality videos as intellectual property

Using or sending registered digital designs or something similar online without permission would be considered an infringement of IP rights. South Korea’s patent office announced that virtual reality and augmented ... Read more »

Fed limits trading by top officials in wake of ethics scandal

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – The Federal Reserve will ban top officials from buying individual stocks and bonds as well as limit active trading after an embarrassing scandal that led two officials ... Read more »

On the Tiles: Economy panel looks at Government's books, inflation, interest rates

Covid-19 is continuing to dominate local politics – but for this week’s episode, On the Tiles takes a break from the pandemic to look at what’s happening in the economy. ... Read more »

Energy crisis in Europe is a consequence of dysfunctional capitalism, Putin says

Vladimir Putin recalled the price of gas in Europe has already exceeded $1,000 per 1,000 cubic meters under the market regulation Read more »

Putin thanks Europe for sanctions, noting good effect of countermeasures for Russia

Vladimir Putin noted that Russia is increasing food supplies to the world market Read more »

OPEC+ building up oil output, but not all states can do it quickly — Putin

The head of state recalled that in 2012-2016, annual investments in oil production amounted to about $400 billion Read more »

Work on filling 2nd string of Nord Stream 2 will be completed in December — Putin

The Russian president added that Russia is ready to start gas supplies the next day after receiving the appropriate permission from the German regulator Read more »

Brussels' utopian green energy fantasies spark energy crisis in Europe — Hungarian PM

In particular, the rise in gas prices in Europe was caused by the rapid rise in prices on the carbon quotas market, which is being created and actively developed by the European Commission Read more »

Hainan consumer sector up 31.9% from January to September

The main factor contributing to the increase in retail sales was value-added consumer goods Read more »

The existing model of capitalism has run its course — Putin

© Dmitry Feoktistov/TASS The existing model of capitalism has run its course – Putin Read more »

Russian diplomat blasts US inaction to regulate Big Tech's unrestrained monopoly conduct

"It is regrettable that at the moment there is no proper political will to streamline this sphere in the United States, whose comfortable jurisdiction IT companies normally hide behind," Russian Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Oleg Gavrilov said Read more »

Google, Facebook, Twitter fail to delete around 5,500 files with banned information

On May 17, the watchdog said it had decided to lift restrictions on access to Twitter in fixed-line networks after its administration removed more than 90% of illegal content Read more »

Moneycontrol Pro Panorama | A billion vaccine shots done, but the Street's not in a celebratory mood

Villagers wait to receive a dose of COVISHIELD vaccine, a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, during “Vaccination on boat” programme in Gosaba Island in the ... Read more »

(News Focus) 'Half-success' of rocket launch creates new tasks for S. Korea's space program

By Kim Soo-yeon and Chung Joo-won SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s launch of its first homegrown space rocket ended in “half-success” Thursday, but it will likely prompt the ... Read more »

Court bans sale of 61 models of Samsung smartphones in Russia

The decision may be appealed within one month of the date of its adoption Read more »

Lotte Chemical invests 100 mln euros in global hydrogen fund

By Kim Seung-yeon SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) — Lotte Chemical Corp., a South Korean petrochemical company, said Thursday it will invest about 100 million euros (US$116 million) in a global ... Read more »

El Salvador disables Bitcoin price visibility on the app to stop scalping

Chivo is working on adding a trading feature that will let operators trade with BTC with any modality, but with the asset’s price display in real-time. Chivo App, El Salvador’s ... Read more »

Pacific Fleet's ecologists collect more than 450 tonnes of waste on Wrangel Island

The Wrangel Island is not permanently populated, and the temporary population are meteorologists, staff of the nature reserve and the military Read more »

Samsung SDI begins test run of cathode factory in S. Korea

SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) — South Korean battery maker Samsung SDI Co. said Thursday it has began its test run of a cathode-producing factory, jointly set up with a local ... Read more »

Hainan's economy grows 12.8% in the three quarters of 2021

According to Wang Yu, deputy head of the region's bureau of statistics, Hainan's economy is showing "obvious intensive growth". Read more »

KB Financial Group Q3 net profit up 9.3 pct. to 1.3 tln won

SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) — KB Financial Group Inc. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net profit of 1.3 trillion won (US$1.1 billion), up 9.3 percent from a year earlier. The ... Read more »

Hainan's January-September tourism revenues grew 136.9% year-on-year

The province’s total revenue amounted to $16.7 billion Read more »

China power crisis boosts coal imports from Indonesia to record

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) – Indonesia is now overwhelmingly China’s biggest overseas supplier of coal, with shipments hitting a record last month after Beijing loosened curbs on imports to tackle its power ... Read more »

Media: Hainan National Park to be an important link in a new model of green development

According to the Hainan Daily newspaper, the protected rainforest area will be an important strategic factor which will considerably raise tourism standards Read more »

Dollar rises to 70.86 rubles

The euro remained unchanged, amounting to 82.5 rubles Read more »

Number of chickens dips 4.2 pct in Q3 due to bird flu

SEJONG, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) — The number of layer chickens raised in South Korea dropped 4.2 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier due to the impact of ... Read more »

Donald Trump creates his own media group and social network - statement

The Trump Media and Technology Group will launch the TRUTH Social network soon Read more »

South Korea exports jump in early October data despite supply chain woes

SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) – South Korea’s early trade report showed exports continued to post strong gains in October, weathering headwinds from global supply chain snags and China’s slowdown. Shipments grew 36.1 ... Read more »

(LEAD) Exports rise 36 percent in first 20 days of Oct.

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details from para 3)By Kim Soo-yeon SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s exports rose 36.1 percent on-year in the first 20 days of October on ... Read more »

Greenflation feared in S. Korea amid carbon-neutral transition

According to industry sources, South Korea “has plenty of reasons to be nervous” about soaring utility costs. “Greenflation” or price hikes in renewable technology resources such as metals, minerals, and ... Read more »

(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Oct. 21)

Calm the inflationary pressure Prices are skyrocketing. The inflation rate in October is expected to rise into the three percent range for the first time in ten years. To make ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic