Groups representing Hong Kong analysts and financial brokers published a letter opposing threatened pro-democracy protests, saying the demonstrations may hurt the city’s status as a financial center.
The protests, known as Occupy Central, will bring “a hundred harms and zero benefits,” the eight groups said in full-page advertisements in Chinese newspapers in the city today. Companies will consider shifting their investments to Singapore or Shanghai if the protests go ahead, the groups said, citing unidentified foreign business associations.
The statement reflects the divide in Hong Kong over how to elect its next leader in 2017, with former hedge-fund manager Edward Chin last week publishing an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping calling for “genuine” universal suffrage. China wants candidates for Hong Kong’s next chief executive to be vetted by a committee.
“In today’s business climate, there’s no room for additional turmoil,” the groups, representing more than 20,000 members, said in the statement. Other signatories include Cheung Wah-fung, a member of the Legislative Council’s finance committee, as well as the Institute of Securities Dealers and the Hong Kong Securities Professionals Association.
Occupy Central has threatened protests in Hong Kong’s 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.
China’s “One Country, Two Systems” policy granted Hong Kong its own legal system for 50 years under the Basic Law implemented after the U.K. returned the territory to China in 1997. The city allows residents civil liberties including a free press and freedom of assembly not permitted in the mainland.
Occupy Central is a civic group started by an academic that has threatened protests in the city’s business districts should the reforms not meet its demands.
Chin’s letter, published in the Financial Times, said the political climate in Hong Kong is hurting the city’s competitiveness. Chin said the letter included about 70 signatories, including brokers, bankers and regulators that he didn’t identify.