Financial Secretary Paul Chan warned on his Sunday blog that an apparent return of anti-government protests could jeopardise the "small window of economic recovery" that’s been opened as the coronavirus epidemic eases in Hong Kong.
Chan said while the epidemic can be contained, it’s even more difficult to stamp out violence – pointing to the return of protests and minor conflicts in recent days that he says have disrupted the activities of some businesses.
“This is definitely bad news for the already-weakened Hong Kong economy; the retail sector, small shops and workers”, Chan said.
“If, at this time, during this hard-won breathing space for the economy, fewer people patronise shops and restaurants because of gatherings and conflicts, or businesses have to pull down their shutters temporarily, they would be robbed of even their small space for survival.”
The finance chief stressed that the economy has been battered over the past year not only by the virus but also violent clashes.
This, he says, has created an "unprecedented amount of pressure" on the local economy – which contracted by a record 8.9 percent in the first quarter of 2020.
Chan said the situation is still ‘not optimistic’ in the second quarter, but added that so long as the coronavirus pandemic can be held at bay, the economy, and business activity can gradually resume, and there’s hope for a ‘turning point’ in the third quarter.
He also wrote that even people who want to express their views should do so peacefully, and not at the expense of other people’s interests.
Chief Secretary, Matthew Cheung, agreed that violence appears to be on the verge of returning to Hong Kong.
In his own blog post, Cheung said it was “very worrying” that some young people who are still ‘immature’ and lack experience can be easily incited to commit crimes, becoming “puppets for criminals”.
Cheung said these people may not be aware of how serious the consequences are for breaking the law, and urged them to cherish their futures and lead clean lives.
'Renewed protests put economic recovery at risk'
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