• Sat
  • Jul 26, 2014
  • Updated: 4:08pm
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Switching Apec meeting to Beijing is a blow for Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 4:06am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 4:06am

Our city's can-do reputation leaves it with little to prove about adaptability and flexibility. So we might be puzzled, but not too concerned, that after signing up to host an international financial conference, a little thing like a change of date is cited as a reason to change the venue. However, the case of a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers ahead of an Apec leaders' summit being hosted by Beijing later this year is an exception. The switch to Beijing for the finance ministers' meeting has also led to wide speculation about the reason, which has inevitably linked it to the Occupy Central pro-democracy political rally planned for Hong Kong's financial district. Beijing has made plain its displeasure with this plan.

To be sure, Hong Kong's experience in organising a number of big international events makes it seem a stretch to say that the city could not handle a change of date seven months in advance. The finance ministers' meeting was put back a couple of weeks after the leaders' summit was pushed back from October to November at the request of US President Barack Obama. Apec organisers said this would cause logistical problems such as with hotel bookings, a claim disputed by a hotel industry leader. A common reaction is that the switch may undermine Hong Kong's image as a financial centre. We trust that official denials of any direct link to the Occupy Central movement will ease such concerns. Otherwise there is a risk of a public perception that political factors cannot be ruled out, and that the decision conveys an underlying message that if Beijing can give something it can also take it away.

None of this serves the best interests of Hong Kong, a natural venue for a meeting of finance officials and central bankers. It should also be a reminder to protest organisers to strike a balance between exercising their rights and the city's overall interests. Ironically, some of the Apec guests would have been from countries that value free speech, including protest and dissent, as positive for confidence in a financial centre.

Share

More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

3

This article is now closed to comments

ann.wei.121
Yes , you hit the nail on the head, Beijing can give something it can also take it away ........exactly what Beijing was trying to demonstrate. But, guess what, this is not a boxing match, a punch, however powerful, does not gain my respect, quite the opposite.
XYZ
One less meeting of public officials in Hong Kong is fine with me. Let Beijing have them.
dynamco
au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/world/a/21700948/hong-kong-replaced-as-apec-host-over-protest-fears/
Hong Kong (AFP) - Planned summer demonstrations by democracy activists were behind China's decision to snub Hong Kong in favour of Beijing as host of a key Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers' meeting, a media report said.
Democracy activists from the "Occupy Central" group have threatened to flood the streets of Hong Kong's business district with thousands of protesters to try to force officials to guarantee electoral reform.
An official said Beijing's decision to relocate the meetings planned for September was related to the ongoing civil disobedience campaign, according to Cable News TV.
Cheng Yiu-tong, a member of the city's executive council added that he was concerned about the impact of the movement on how Hong Kong is perceived -- politically and internationally.
"I am worried, because we don't know how serious Occupy Central will become," Cheng told reporters.
 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or