Carrie Lam assures investors Hong Kong can rebound from protests

HONG KONG • Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has reassured foreign investors that the Asian financial hub can rebound from months of protests, despite no sign that the unrest will subside.

Mrs Lam said yesterday at the opening session of the annual Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong that the city is grappling with the double whammy of a prolonged China trade war with the United States and social unrest.

Her promise last week to withdraw the extradition Bill that sparked major protests since June failed to mollify protesters, who insist all five key demands - including direct elections for the city's leaders and police accountability - must be met.

Still, Mrs Lam voiced confidence that rifts can be mended through government plans for dialogue and upholding the "one country, two systems" principle which gives Hong Kong some freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland after the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

"We can find a way back to reasoned discussion, to social stability... after all, Hong Kong has been built and rebuilt time and again on our indomitable resilience. Call it the spirit of Hong Kong and know that it will see us through," she told the two-day summit, which attracted 5,000 businessmen and professionals from 60 countries and regions from Europe, Asia and Africa.

Mrs Lam said that under President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative, Hong Kong was an important global finance centre, cultural exchange centre and professional services hub.

Mr Xie Feng, Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry in Hong Kong, said deeper integration with mainland China through Belt and Road projects is the way forward for Hong Kong's development.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2019, with the headline 'Lam assures investors HK can rebound from protests'. Print Edition | Subscribe