In recent weeks, criticisms about the future of Hong Kong as an international financial center have been swirling among netizens in mainland China. The sentiment has been supported by a travel check-in graphic published by Xiaohongshu showing Hong Kong as a “relic of an international financial center.” The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of Hong Kong, Hui Ching-yu, strongly denied these claims, asserting that Hong Kong’s financial market is solid and resilient.
These claims have arisen against the backdrop of a decline in the presence of multinational companies in Hong Kong as well as signs of international capital outflows from the stock market. The Hang Seng Index even fell below its counterpart in Taiwan for the first time in 31 years. Several voices in the business community have weighed in, with some expressing concerns about the rapid transformation of Hong Kong’s financial landscape.
The decline in daily trading volume of Hong Kong stocks has been cited as one of the key reasons for these claims, with many listed companies experiencing a significant drop in trade. This has led netizens to visit iconic financial landmarks in Hong Kong, such as the Exchange Square, to take photos of what is described as “the ruins of the former world financial center with no liquidity.”
In response to these criticisms, Secretary Hui Ching-yu highlighted the growth and resilience of Hong Kong’s financial market, particularly in areas such as securities, assets and wealth management, and insurance. He emphasized that these areas have shown steady growth despite the challenges posed by macroeconomic factors and geopolitical instability.
Despite Hui’s defense, financial columnist Zhou Xian was critical of the Hong Kong government’s approach to the development of the financial industry. Zhou highlighted the challenges faced by the local financial sector and the tendency of some industry professionals to shift towards investing in U.S. stocks amidst the decline of Hong Kong stocks.
Echoing similar sentiments, businessman and Chairman of Centaline Group, Shi Yongqing, expressed the possibility of Hong Kong becoming an “international financial center ruins.” He emphasized the need for support from international funds and the importance of attracting investments from Europe and the United States to help the city’s financial industry prosper.
The debate around the future of Hong Kong as an international financial center continues to intensify, with voices from various sectors offering differing perspectives on the challenges and potential opportunities ahead. While concerns about the city’s financial future persist, key stakeholders are engaged in robust discussions on the best path forward.
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