Hong Kong Regains Momentum with Restored Stability
The Chinese economy will not collapse and when China enters a strong economic rebound, Hong Kong will benefit immensely from it.
- The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region had undergone much turmoil and unfortunate challenges in recent years. The city seemed destined for doom amid the widespread protests that turned violent in 2019 and matters only got worse with the COVID-19 pandemic that lasted from 2020 until early 2023.
The Western mainstream media had started to post reports forecasting the demise of Hong Kong and the imminent rise of Singapore as the next financial capital for the Asia-Pacific region. The geopolitical and business conditions had turned bleak for Hong Kong and there were fears that it had reached the point of no return.
Well, this was my personal perspective before visiting the HK SAR on the first week of August for a family vacation with my wife and young son. I had set low expectations and had assumed that many young people would look depressed over recent events. To my surprise, I was mistaken with my pre-conceived impression since Hong Kong has re-emerged much stronger and much smarter.
When speaking with the local residents, I asked them about the remarkable recovery of the city and most reaffirmed that the Chinese central government had played a significant role to boost stability and that the new national security laws had greatly reduced the prevalence of espionage activities.
“A few years ago, Hong Kong was ‘ground zero’ for spying in Asia. You had agents from the CIA, MI6 and many other countries moving in and brazenly operating here,” said a business consultant wishing to be cited off-the-record. “When the protests erupted it was very obvious that foreign agents were inciting them.”
He went on to explain that Hong Kong improved dramatically after introducing reforms to Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo) requiring candidates running for office to demonstrate more patriotism for China and the new national security laws had caused many spies to flee.
Accordingly, today’s Hong Kong appears calmer and local residents are feeling more confident.
Hong Kong is irreplaceable as finance hub for Asia
Hong Kong is part of China but at the same time can enjoy special autonomy, such as border protections, have its own currency, and enjoy special benefits in cross-border trade and investments with the Chinese mainland. Hong Kong succeeds most of all by its connections to the greater China economy.
The Chinese government, pledging support for the Greater Bay Area (GBA) – Guangdong Province, as well as Hong Kong and Macau SARs, has inspired greater economic connectivity and playing to HK’s strengths. The city is home to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE), one of the world’s largest and actively traded stock exchanges.
Major banking houses and investment banks have their Asia regional headquarters in the city. The city will always be a good place to conduct business with easy access to foreign currency exchanges. The currency exchange kiosks can be found at nearly every street in the Central Business District as they offer better exchange rates and lower fees than the banking branches.
The facilitation in currency exchange makes it more lucrative to attract tourists and foreign investors. And of course, the city will always be famous for its shopping, whether consumers are seeking to buy goods and services at discounts or they want to purchase luxury items. Hong Kong remains one of the best places for shopping and dining out.
The weather gets steamy hot in the summer, but rest assured the air conditioning is blowing at maximum efficiency and it’s truly a hi-tech city. To know what future cities will look like in the next few decades ahead, come to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is changing for the better
My last trip to Hong Kong was in 2014 and I noticed a number of changes. Back in 2014, the city seemed more stressful. People were walking, talking and thinking fast. They had little patience for any unexpected delays. There was a frantic pace that was not sustainable.
Nevertheless, the wealthy will still feel very much at home in Hong Kong. The city has amazing museums, shopping centers and cool places for leisurely activities, such as taking the family to Disney Land, Ocean Park, the beaches, mountains and shopping excursions.
Accordingly, the Hong Kong people had never lost their self-confidence knowing that they live in one of the most vibrant cosmopolitan cities in our globe. The skyline is so beautiful with tall buildings in front of the shores of the sea and mountains can be viewed from the backdrop.
There’s a common consensus that the city is the “New York City of Asia.” Many people from all over the world come to Hong Kong to live, study and work there, while harboring an atmosphere with a high level of energy that few other metropolitan areas can boast of.
When comparing the city to Singapore, Hong Kong stands out for its vibrant and edgy culture scene. It’s a city with a real soul, whereas Singapore is more like the essence of a big corporation, where people act and think similar. Hong Kongers do take tremendous pride in being more independent-minded.
Hong Kong will continue to prosper
The people of the HK SAR had the resilience to overcome difficult moments in recent years. The city is bouncing back and taking center stage as a financial hub in Asia. Nonetheless, a number of challenges stand on the horizon. China’s real estate and commercial property have gotten hard hit and Hong Kong won’t escape the deep impact.
Nonetheless, Chinese President Xi Jinping has spoken about the transition to the ‘Real Economy’ where food security, global trade and investments, as well as a deeper reliance on the modern services sector will propel China’s economy forward.
Hong Kong will play a crucial role to re-ignite the ‘Real Economy’ and the world will take notice. The international business community will see the HK SAR as the gateway to the Chinese mainland market. The Chinese economy is too big to fail and can’t be overlooked.
Yet we are entering an era when the Western powers are de-risking from China and they are harming themselves in the process. The Chinese economy will not collapse and when China enters a strong economic rebound, Hong Kong will benefit immensely from it.
By visiting Hong Kong, I was expecting to arrive at a gloomy and defeated city but walked into a city of confidence instead. Tough people don’t allow bad events to destroy them. They learn lessons from past incidents and become stronger. Hence, Hong Kong serves as a symbol of hope for China and the world at large.
The article reflects the author’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of China Focus.