Hong Kong moves to woo friends and visitors, guard financial hub status

Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan issued a report on the island's business environment as the city's tourism board inked a deal with a South Korean entertainment company. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG - Hong Kong has kicked off a bid to improve its global image, playing both defence and offence, with its financial czar seeking to "clarify misunderstandings" about the financial hub and the tourism board promoting Hong Kong through Korean dramas.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan on Monday (Sept 27) issued a 68-page first of its kind report titled "Report on Hong Kong's Business Environment". It accused the United States of having a hand in hurting the city's business climate by supporting the "black-clad violence" in 2019, imposing "blatantly unreasonable sanctions" on Chinese and Hong Kong officials, and applying pressure on multinational enterprises in the territory.

"With the change in the global economic landscape, the US is anxious about the rise of China. The US even uses Hong Kong as a pawn to suppress China's development and takes unjustifiable and extreme measures on issues related to Hong Kong, casting a shadow on Hong Kong's business environment," the report stated.

It added that the US actions caused serious disruption to the Hong Kong government and lauded the national security law for restoring order and in turn, improving Hong Kong's prospects.

"Some people might have been deceived by misleading information from the US," Mr Chan told the media, adding that "we should set the record straight" on the city's legal system and global rankings.

The Hong Kong and Chinese governments have come under fire from the West for what the latter views as the mainland's tightening grip on the city through the national security law, the erosion of freedoms like speech and assembly, and a crackdown on the opposition and activists.

Amid continued clashes between China and the US, the Chinese Foreign Ministry last Friday issued on its website for the first time 102 detailed examples of the US' "blatant interference" since the 2019 mass protests.

This was meant to be a warning to the US and to prove the urgency of enacting Article 23 under the Basic Law, the city's mini Constitution.

Hong Kong is obliged under Article 23 to pass its national security law but attempts to do so led to a 500,000-strong demonstration in 2003. The unpopularity of this proposal also led to then Secretary for Security Regina Ip resigning and then Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa making his exit in 2005, before the end of his term.

Mr Chan also touched on the territory's development, from a focus on light manufacturing to value-add industries such as financial services.

He noted that Hong Kong's success depends on opportunities provided by the mainland. For instance, the capitalisation of Hong Kong's securities market is 10 to 20 times the city's gross domestic product, with 70 per cent of both capitalisation and daily turnover coming from mainland enterprises.

Citing Beijing's plans for Hong Kong, including the 14th five-year plan and Greater Bay Area development, he said these initiatives will drive the economy.

In a move to woo visitors, the Hong Kong Tourism Board on Monday announced that it has inked a deal with a South Korean entertainment company to feature the city in K-dramas and variety shows.

The three-year deal with CJ ENM aims to promote Hong Kong as a travel destination through its shows to be made from 2022 to 2024.

The company is behind popular Korean dramas, including Crash Landing On You, Goblin: The Lonely And Great God, Hospital Playlist and Vincenzo, and reality shows Youn's Kitchen and New Journey To The West.

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