Face off: Are the ongoing protests the 'root of the problems' for Hong Kong's economy?


Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week …

Joanne MaNester Chik |

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Teresa Kwok, 14, South Island School

I do believe the protests are the root cause of Hong Kong’s economic downturn. It may not have been the protesters’ intention, but they can’t deny that their actions have affected many of the cities industries.

The protests were quite peaceful in the beginning, but they have since grown violent, often descending into riots. This has severely affected Hong Kong’s tourism and retail industries. It’s a shame that the tourism industry has been affected, because it bridges Hong Kong with other countries.

A big portion of the consumers that contribute to our economy are mainland tourists, but the violent protests of recent months have put a lot of them off from visiting Hong Kong. If fewer mainlanders visit, many hotels and shops will lose business.

The city’s transportation systems have also been affected. Protesters have damaged ticket machines in MTR stations, smashed traffic lights, and occupied major roads, which has greatly disrupted people’s daily commute. Not only has it made getting around more difficult for locals – including students trying to get to school – it has also been a big turn off for tourists. Again, if we lose tourists, we lose money.

Not only has Hong Kong lost tourists, but investors that we need to sustain our economy. A lot of our business investors in the past have been from the mainland, and we have definitely lost a number of them since the anti-extradition law protests began in June. Many business events such as conferences, seminars and conventions have also been cancelled due to the protests.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that the ongoing protests are the main cause of the current economic downtown.

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Nester Chik, 17, Sing Yin Secondary School

The current economic downturn might have been triggered by the ongoing protests, but the “root of the problems” is in fact Hong Kong’s hollow legal system and biased economic structure.

Since the turn of the millennium, the Hong Kong government has been dedicated to cultivating “Four Pillar Industries”, including tourism, financial services, trading, and logistics. Our city has been making money through means which depend heavily on its partners across the border such as the mainland and other Asian countries.

Lack of economic independence wasn’t seen as a weakness for Hong Kong – that is, until the city’s legal system – which had appeared to be playing an important role in the city’s economy – was proven to be corroded.

The extradition bill triggered a huge backlash from citizens, and as this social and political unrest continues to simmer, it has pushed away foreign investors. As a result, Hong Kong’s economic structure has started to collapse.

On the surface, it may seem that the ongoing protests have caused Hong Kong’s business to drop, but if we trace the root of the protests, you’ll find they are not the ones to be blamed.

They were driven by a law that angered them and if Hong Kong was not so dependent on other countries, the impact of the protests on the city’s economy would not be as great. If anything, it has helped to highlight the problems with Hong Kong’s economic system, and the government should act quickly to come up with a solution to reform the old system.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda