Hong Kong : Violent demonstrations Monday that saw protesters vandalize Hong Kong’s main government complex have drawn a swift condemnation from business leaders worried about damage to the city’s reputation.
Hong Kong prides itself on being an international financial hub, a safe and stable place where foreign companies and investors can do business. Its status as Asia’s top financial center and a link between China and global business is still valued highly, despite the rise of mainland cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen.
“We believe the violent protests of recent days do not reflect how the majority of people in this dynamic and advanced economy would choose to be heard,” The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said in a statement Tuesday.
The statement came just hours after protesters smashed the windows at Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and made their way through the government complex, vandalizing rooms and spray painting the walls with expletives and slogans criticizing the government.
Monday’s protests coincided with the 22nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China. Under the terms of the 1997 handover, Beijing promised to respect the semi-autonomous city’s distinct political and legal system for 50 years.
An attempt in May by the Hong Kong government to push through a controversial bill that would have allowed suspects from the city to be extradited to China sparked weeks of protests.
Hong Kong’s business community condemned the bill. They feared that if it passed, Beijing could reach into Hong Kong and pluck alleged offenders — including foreign executives — out of the city to face charges under China’s opaque and politicized legal system.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam backed down last month and shelved the legislation, but protestors want it withdrawn completely and are calling on Lam to resign.