A group representing eight financial organisations has published a joint statement opposing the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement, saying the protest may harm the city’s status as an international financial hub.
Published in three Chinese-language newspapers today, the full-page advertisement comes the week after a group of 70 banking and financial workers issued an open letter to President Xi Jinping last week demanding democracy, with some going as far as pledging to join the Occupy Central movement.
“Some people claimed they support the Occupy Central movement on behalf of the financial sector, we cannot agree with that. [The protest] would bring harm to Hong Kong … jeopardising the city’s status as an international financial centre,” today’s statement said.
The groups, including the Institute of Securities Dealers and the Chinese Financial Association of Hong Kong, said the movement – aiming to paralyse Hong Kong to press for a “genuine” universal suffrage – would deter foreign capital from investing in the city.
“Companies which plan to invest in Hong Kong have considered shifting their businesses to Singapore and Shanghai,” said the statement published in Oriental Daily, Wen Wei Po and Hong Kong Economic Times. The eight groups represent about 20,000 brokers and traders in the city.
Jeanny Lee Sai-yin, head of co-signing Hong Kong Securities Professionals Association, said the statement “did not target” the pro-democracy letter issued by their fellow financial workers.
“Our response is only targeting Occupy Central and we also want to reiterate our line on electoral reform,” said Lee. The letter to Xi, organised by hedge fund manager Edward Chin Chi-kin, was advertised in the Financial Times, Apple Daily and Roman Catholic paper Kung Kao Po last Wednesday.
“The advertisement was not planned due to their action [Chin’s letter],” said Lee on the statement co-signed by financial services lawmaker Christopher Cheung Wah-fung.
But she added the dozens of pro-democracy financial and banking workers could not represent the sector’s stance on political development.
“We have not heard about their names so want to clarify on the industry’s stance,” she said.
While one emphasis of the pro-democracy group was on the negative impact of Chinese capital on the city’s financial market, Lee said: “From a different perspective, we think the Chinese capital expands the market.”
Replying to the latest statement, Chin said the industry lawmaker did not represent the pro-democracy faction in the industry. “I did not have a chance to elect Cheung too … he is a product of small-circle election. He does not represent me and lots of people in the financial industry,” said Chin, referring to the lawmaker elected to the seat in 2012, with 208 votes