Are you ready for Occupy Central? HKMA to check on Hong Kong's banks
Authority to ensure core operations can continue if blockade of Central goes ahead
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is to check banks are sufficiently prepared for the disruption that would be caused if Occupy Central protesters blockade the business district.
"There are many major banks in Hong Kong which have their headquarters and major operations located in Central. The HKMA as a regulator would not like to see any movements or events that would affect their operations," HKMA chief executive Norman Chan Tak-lam said yesterday.
"Central for banks is just like the heart for a body. Once the heart stops working, the person dies.
"We thus need to make sure the banks' operations will not be affected by whatever happens in Central," Chan, the head of the city's de facto central bank, added.
Some of Hong Kong's biggest financial institutions, such as HSBC, Bank of China (Hong Kong), Standard Chartered, Bank of East Asia and Hang Seng Bank have their headquarters and thousands of staff in Central.
Occupy Central activists plan to blockade the business hub's streets if government-proposed electoral reforms for the chief executive poll in 2017 fail to meet their demands for universal suffrage.
In June, the HKMA conducted a drill with 55 banks to test their emergency plans and make sure their core operations and customer services could continue in case of a civil disobedience campaign by Occupy Central.
"The drill in June worked well. The HKMA will continue to check and have drills with banks to monitor their emergency plans," Chan said.
Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-keung said in a separate media briefing that political uncertainty would be a risk factor to the city's role as a financial hub.
The warnings from the central banker and the minister came after Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah on Sunday warned about Occupy Central's impact on the financial markets. Tsang urged pan-democrats to think twice before resorting to extreme acts in their fight for universal suffrage, warning that political uncertainty could increase the risk of an economic crisis.