Ending violence top priority for HK

HONG KONG: The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government and police are determined to end the more than four months of social unrest and restore law and order as soon as possible, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said.

To deal with external challenges, as well as the internal disruption, the government’s top priority was to stop the violence and restore law and order as nothing justified violence, she told the Asia House Future of Trade Conference in Central on Wednesday.

“Working in concert with the police, who have displayed courage and restraint, every government agency is determined to bring the turmoil to an end, ” Lam said.

She reiterated the significance of the cornerstones underpinning Hong Kong’s success as a financial and trading hub, including “one country, two systems”, the rule of law and the institutional strengths.

She added that it had been a “distressing time” for Hong Kong’s trade and businesses as the past few months of violent protests had seriously hurt the local economy.

“The reality is that the protests have crippled the retail, catering and transport sector, as well as enterprises associated with the tourism industry, ” she said.

Buffeted at the same time by the global economic slowdown and external uncertainties, the HKSAR, as a major entrepot for trans-Pacific trade and commerce powered largely by small and medium-sized enterprises, has seen its economy suffer.

In the first nine months of this year, the value of Hong Kong’s total exports of goods dived 4.6% year-on-year, while the value of goods imports plummeted by 6.5%. Shipping and logistics also took a hit.

The number of visitors to the city in the first half of this month tumbled by about 50% compared to last year, according to Lam.

Retail sales in August alone were down 25% from a year earlier – the steepest year-on-year decline on record for a single month. — China Daily/ANN

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