Hong Kong Financier Calls for Democracy in Letter to Xi

A former hedge-fund manager based in Hong Kong has called for “genuine” universal suffrage for the former British colony in an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Edward Chin urged China to observe the high degree of autonomy promised to Hong Kong before its return to mainland control and refrain from interfering in the city’s administrative affairs. Chin said by e-mail that the letter, a copy of which was made available to Bloomberg News, had about 70 signatories including brokers, investment bankers and regulators that he declined to name.

Hong Kong is gripped in a debate over how to elect its next leader, with opposition lawmakers pushing for full-fledged democracy in line with international standards while China wants candidates to be vetted by a committee.

“The current political climate in Hong Kong is having a negative impact to Hong Kong’s competitiveness as a major financial centre in Asia,” according to the letter, which outlines 10 requests to the Chinese Communist Party. The letter is due to be published in newspapers tomorrow, the New York Times reported earlier today.

Occupy Central, a civic group started by an academic, has threatened protests in the business district should democratic reforms not meet its demands. A five-month public consultation is due to end on May 3, with the government then expected to submit the proposals to Beijing for approval.

Stumbling Block

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in a June interview he wants to deliver on the reforms, though increased democracy may lead to China’s refusal to appoint a leader elected by the city’s people. Allowing for a full exercise of democracy in Hong Kong would contrast with the political system in China, which has been ruled by the Communist Party since 1949.

The existing political system in Hong Kong has become “the stumbling block to the city’s long-term social, political and economic growth,” according to Chin’s letter. “We sincerely urge the leaders of the Central Government to consider these requests which reflect the voice of the Hong Kong people.”

Chin is a consultant with more than 20 years of finance experience, according to the website of MDE Hedge Center, a Hong Kong-based family office that focuses on social enterprise, real estate and alternative investment strategies. Chin is a former country head at Man Investments, the website shows.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vinicy Chan in Hong Kong at vchan91@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net Darren Boey, Ben Scent

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