• Wed
  • Nov 19, 2014
  • Updated: 8:58pm
NewsHong Kong
FINANCE

Key Apec meeting switched from Hong Kong to Beijing

City replaced as venue by Beijing in 'rare' move, but speculation that the Occupy Central protest could have triggered the decision is dismissed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 February, 2014, 4:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 3:09am
 

Hong Kong has been replaced by Beijing as the venue for a meeting of Apec finance ministers and central bankers later this year.

The surprise move by the central government, described by one Apec official as "rare", led to wild speculation about the reasons for the switch.

Some politicians linked it to a radical political rally planned to take place in the city's main financial district in the summer.

But the organisers dismissed that theory yesterday.

Officials of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum (Apec) said the decision was made because US President Barack Obama asked for the leaders' meeting to be pushed back from October to November.

Obama needed to be at home for campaigning in the US mid-term elections, said an Apec official, who asked not to be named.

The leaders' summit, including a meeting between Obama and President Xi Jinping , will be the highlight of the event.

"Such a big change is indeed rare and we haven't seen it for years. This reflects that China and the US are working really hard to ensure the meeting [between Xi and Obama] will take place," said the Apec official.

We were looking forward to hosting a meeting that is a natural fit for
HK DAVID DODWELL, HK-APEC POLICY GROUP

Because of the change, the meeting of finance chiefs originally scheduled for September - and which would have worked out the broad economic issues for the political leaders to ratify later - has been postponed by a couple of weeks as well. The organisers said this would cause logistical problems, such as hotel bookings, and it would be easier to manage the meetings if all the events were held in Beijing.

About 800 people were expected to attend the Hong Kong meetings. David Dodwell, executive director of the Hong Kong-Apec Trade Policy Group, said the idea of a switch had been circulated for about three weeks.

"Clearly this is upsetting because we were looking forward to hosting a meeting that is a natural fit for Hong Kong," Dodwell said.

Discussions are still taking place on whether it will be possible to keep some of the planned business meetings here to discuss issues of international financial stability and market regulation being tackled by the Asia-Pacific Financial Forum.

The explanation did not stop politicians in Hong Kong from linking it to the Occupy Central movement. The protest group is urging people to block traffic in Central unless "genuine universal suffrage" is guaranteed for the 2017 chief executive election.

Executive councillor Cheng Yiu-tong believes the venue switch "could be related" to the movement and said this would affect the city's reputation.

"It is worrying, because you won't know how serious Occupy Central will get … so it could be safer [to hold the Apec meetings in Beijing]," he said.

Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan said he was worried the decision could indicate that Beijing was bracing for the worst and may adopt a hardline stance that would be likely to trigger angry protests in the city.

But Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Professor Chan Ka-keung said the switch was "purely due to co-ordination and time concerns".

He said "only a small amount" had been spent in preparation, with the HK$63 million fund granted for the event still intact.

Macau's chief executive, Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on, said the city's Apec tourism ministers' meeting had received "no notice of changes" and the preparatory work would go ahead.

Share

For unlimited access to:

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

 

 
 
 
 
 
47

This article is now closed to comments

Camel
judging belows comment I must say, you still don't get it. Beijing will slowly revoke all support to Hongkong. Apec is relocated because of the Occupy Central movement. They don't want to risk anything. But they will for sure teach the HKners a lesson which the next generation will pay for. Just imagine how HK will be with high amounts of company relocations to Shenzhen, Qinghai, company bankruptcy and closing stores, high unemployement rate, decreasing public funds and budget. You think HK can maintain itself? ridiculous. You think the US and UK will come to help? even more ridiculous.
lexishk
Also, increasing the risk of respiratory illnesses amongst attendees, and reducing the effectiveness of any nearby US lasers.
daily
No Big Deal.............having it in HK only gives the local officials a chance to pretend they are doing something and that they are earning their pay..............Now they just have to find another way or event to pretend they are busy.
anthonygmail
Why are so many commenters getting their panties in a twist about losing a talk-fest? Do we really want so many bureaucrats being driven around HK like the last time we had the WTO?
gimli
Good decision, we don't need the blocked roads and associated traffic jams here in HK.
sipsip1238
Once again HK takes low priority to China.
And yet HK politicians still try their darnest to please someone who doesn't love us.
bolshoi
Has it ever occurred to you that you are simply not lovable?
SpeakFreely
Is it time for hk to wake up? Singapore in the last 10 yrs without any help from China is already overtaking hk in GDP per capita. People in singapore enjoy bigger space and cleaner air. So, are we really gaining by financially relying on china? If Yes, why are we keep falling behind?
petits.bijoux.35
You might have missed some details. The Brits surrendered Hong Kong to the Japanese in 1941. The Brits and the HongKongers might have been "educated" out of this piece of history, Beijing certainly remembers. Why and how the Brits I sometimes happen to come across would still laud themselves about their little "achievements" in Hong Kong is beyond me. Anyhow, Hong Kong is a bit overrated, I must say.
qijin@hku.hk
take or give, live or die, to be or not to be, such decisions are not made by the Hong Kong government but the Central government. This action revealed the fact that the CPG has the utmost power and it's above the Hong Kong SAR government, and it is not Hong Kong that can make a decision.
I also believe that this decision by CPG was made addressing the concern about the wide range of protests which might take place if APEC would be held in Hong Kong, and the huge security issue they might bring. Holding the APEC conference in Beijing will benefit the CPG by lowering the risk of disturbance and protest.

Pages

Login

SCMP.com Account

or