Published: 23:02, May 26, 2024
PDF View
HK stands resilient despite smears from West
By Dominic Lee

In recent years, following the enactment of the National Security Law for Hong Kong, a volley of criticisms from Western politicians has tried to paint a grim picture of Hong Kong’s future as a global financial hub. Their narratives warn international investors against committing their resources to the city, suggesting a mass withdrawal of foreign capital. However, these claims do not hold up against the reality of Hong Kong’s robust financial standing and its pivotal role within the global financial architecture.

Hong Kong continues to rank impressively high on the Global Financial Centers Index, a semi-annual ranking compiled by the think tank Z/Yen. With a score of 741, Hong Kong is only a point behind Singapore and maintains its position as the fourth most influential financial center worldwide. This ranking is significant considering the West’s continuous smear campaign that aims to undermine the city’s status and discourage investment. The resilience of Hong Kong’s financial sector showcases not only its inherent strengths but also the confidence it commands on the global stage.

Central to Hong Kong’s success is our unique position as a gateway between the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world, a strategic advantage unmatched by any other region. This enables Hong Kong to act as a “superconnector” and a “value enhancer” in global finance and trade. Despite the negative press from some Western media outlets, the reality on the ground tells a different story.

For instance, when the American law firm Mayer Brown decided to end its partnership with the long-established JSM law firm, some Western media outlets rushed to interpret this as a withdrawal from Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. However, Mayer Brown clarified that it was not pulling out but instead opening a new office in Hong Kong to focus on corporate and financial legal services. This move underscores the firm’s confidence in Hong Kong’s legal and business environment.

The decision by JSM to part ways with Mayer Brown likely reflects a strategic adjustment to geopolitical risks, allowing them to focus more on their Hong Kong operations without unnecessary distractions. This development is aligned with the broader trend of regionalization in the global economy, where businesses and partnerships are increasingly tailored to fit regional contexts rather than a one-size-fits-all global standard.

The ongoing investments and commitments from global firms underscore the international community’s confidence in Hong Kong’s future, proving that the city stands strong amid challenges

Moreover, the central government’s support for Hong Kong in the national 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), which includes bolstering the city’s role as a legal and dispute resolution hub in the Asia-Pacific, highlights the ongoing commitment to Hong Kong’s sectoral strengths and its future development.

Hong Kong’s legal services are poised to benefit from China’s “reaching out” policy, which encourages Chinese enterprises to expand internationally. As these enterprises navigate different regulatory and business environments worldwide, Hong Kong’s legal experts are crucial in facilitating mergers, acquisitions and compliance with international standards, thereby generating new business opportunities.

Despite the skepticism from some quarters of the Western media, these cannot withstand the scrutiny of facts nor significantly impact the investment strategies of the business community. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has been proactive in attracting key businesses, with nearly 50 major enterprises recently committing to invest in the city, projecting an investment total exceeding HK$40 billion ($5.12 billion). This reflects a strong vote of confidence from powerful corporations ready to increase their investments in Hong Kong.

In conclusion, the narratives that Hong Kong’s financial position is under threat because of the national security laws and Western criticisms are fundamentally flawed. The evidence points to a city that not only remains a critical global financial hub but also maintains a dynamic and resilient environment for international business and legal services. The ongoing investments and commitments from global firms underscore the international community’s confidence in Hong Kong’s future, proving that the city stands strong amid challenges.

The author is convener at China Retold, a member of the Legislative Council, and a member of the Central Committee of the New People’s Party. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.