For the past six months, the anti-extradition bill protests have turned the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) into a battleground dominated by violent extremes and countermeasures by police. Now, the unrest is taking a heavy toll on the economy. According to a preliminary government estimate released in October, Hong Kong’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 2.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, marking the first contraction for an individual quarter since 2009. HKSAR also cut its GDP forecast for 2019 to a negative 1.3 percent. It indicates that the Hong Kong economy has entered a technical recession. Hong Kong’s economic outlook will continue to deteriorate, and the weakening economy will incur a huge loss as long as the violent protests conitnue in the city.
The macro data are shocking and the analysis is even more breathtaking. The number of tourists to Hong Kong has been declining for four consecutive months to 43.7 percent in October; the unemployment rate rose to 3.1 percent from August to October, and that of the catering industry reached 6.1 percent, the highest in nearly six years; retail sales total was down 24.3 percent in October from the same period last year, which was a record-breaking decline. All walks of life have become victims of the unrest and violence in Hong Kong and they are suffering from what they cannot afford.
Facts and figures illustrate the consequences of the economic recession in Hong Kong. A senior official of the HKSAR government said on Monday that Hong Kong would likely register its first budget deficit in 15 years for the current fiscal year ending on March 31. Some industries have issued a warning of stagnant wage growth next year, the first time since 2007. Hong Kong's catering industry is also under the weather due to the months of protests. Hundreds of restaurants hve closed in the wake of protests. The rampaging protests are also causing great troubles for local transportation, imposing threats to people's safety and crippling the jobs market. The chaos is leaving its mark on every industry and everyone living in the city. Therefore, the overriding task of Hong Kong is to stop the violence to protect citizens and public interests from any further damage.
What has happened in Hong Kong was not predestined. The general public could not have necessarily "paid the bill." The "plague" of violence, the “recession” of economy, the thousands arrested. All these are the iniquity of the opposition which incites violence. In the name of "sometimes violence is a way to solve the problem," they encourage and instigate mobs to smash property and set fires, paralyzing vital municipal infrastructure; saying that "doves and hawks are in one family," they support and participate in violent criminal activities, spreading a "black horror" everywhere; for the purpose of "big wins in the streets and the parliament as well," they veto business and livelihood projects in the Legislative Council, making fundamental municipal construction almost impossible.
Their purpose is to prevent the community from functioning properly, to destroy Hong Kong's business environment, and to "seize power" from the HKSAR government by "perishing together." People’s livelihood and economic development are obviously nothing to them and are never taken into account.
Liang Zhenying, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), spoke out on the issue: those who have assets are not bothered by "perishing together," like Lai Chee-ying and his family who still enjoy feasts and fine wine; it is those who can barely feed themselves without jobs and those studying with a loan to pay back that are affected. It’s the traitors and rioters like Lai who drive the violence for their own personal gain with scant regard for Hong Kong!
The economic recession is a wake-up-call for all Hongkong residents. Hong Kong was once a stable and prosperous city before the protests broke out in June. Its residents must understand that rioters are pushing the city towards a very dangerous cliff edge. Their sinister politcal ambitions have brought nothing to Hong Kong but death and bankruptcy. Hong Kong's prosperity will no longer exist if violence prevails over justice. The city's future and people's livelihoods will be ruined if the closure of companies and schools becomes the daily routine. Happiness can only be achieved when people choose to build up lives through diligence. Violence will never do.
One can see the destructive impact violence has on economic development. Hong Kong residents are pragmatic, they have shown their durability and survived past challenges such as the Asian financial crisis, the SARS epidemic, and the global financial crisis. It is certain that amid the violence and the “black horror” they will be able to regain their confidence, clarify their thoughts, stand on the side of truth and justice, help stop the violence and riots to save children, themselves and Hong Kong and say no to violence and those anti-China rioters.
Hong Kong still has advantages like a solid capital base and geographical convenience. The Chinese mainland and the "one country, two systems" principle are strong support that will help Hong Kong overcome any economic challenges. Besides, the HKSAR government and volunteers have already launched aid projects to boost employment and help troubled businesses move on. To get Hong Kong back on the right track, people need to draw a line with violent protesters and focus on development plans like the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Beyond any doubt, the "one country, two systems" principle will continue to prove successful in Hong Kong, and the city's future will be brighter.
(Compiled by Ryan Yaoran Yu and Elaine Yue Lin)