Hong Kong’s top finance executives bank on city to thrive as gateway to China

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By Selena Li, Kane Wu and Julie Zhu

HONG KONG, June 27 (Reuters)In 1997, the world viewed as Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule, with some pessimistic or wary about the outlook for the city and its position in the international economical system.

20-five several years later, Hong Kong has so much retained its position as a fiscal hub, and some of the city’s major executives are banking on a brilliant long run as the territory continues to be a critical springboard for financial commitment into mainland China.

Charles Li, former chief government of bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) 0388.HK and founder of microfinance platform Micro Join, explained that though he believes the subsequent 25 a long time will be “extremely different”, he is optimistic.

“I am certain that the overall prosperity of Hong Kong will continue to be as potent as just before mainly because Hong Kong retains its value to both sides,” Li explained to Reuters, referring to China and the West.

When he celebrated the handover with buddies a lot more than two decades back in the city’s bustling nightlife district of Lan Kwai Fong, Li claimed lots of persons noticed it as the “beginning of a extremely long ride, and the greatest is however to appear.”

On Friday, Hong Kong reaches the halfway mark of a 50-calendar year experiment created to give the metropolis a higher degree of autonomy beneath Chinese rule.

Critics of the govt say political and civil liberties have been hugely curtailed, specially due to the fact the introduction of a countrywide safety law in 2020.

The finance sector has thrived considering that the handover. The worth of Hong Kong’s inventory marketplace has surged to HK$27.65 trillion ($3.52 trillion) as of close-June, up from HK$3.2 trillion in 1997 and world-wide traders have come to be increasingly reliant on Hong Kong to trade mainland stocks.

Turnover on the Hong Kong-Shanghai stock hook up pipeline – which presents obtain to closely managed mainland capital – jumped to 46.5 billion yuan on June 22, up from 12.8 billion yuan when it released in 2014, in accordance to details from HKEX.

On the Hong Kong-Shenzhen inventory hook up channel, turnover stands at about 58 billion yuan, up from 2.7 billion yuan at its launch in 2016.

‘INDISPENSABLE’

Although uncertainty clouds the outlook for political and civil liberties underneath electoral improvements and the sweeping national security regulation, other business executives say Hong Kong’s standing as a financial hub will remain intact.

Some business enterprise foyer teams and diplomats have expressed concern above the outlook for Hong Kong, presented an exodus of talent and worries over the rule of legislation and judicial independence.

“Hong Kong will keep on being indispensable, (and) also the most aggressive gateway in between China and the rest of the planet,” Fred Hu, founder and chairman of private fairness group Primavera, informed Reuters. “I don’t believe that any mainland town, together with some cities I appreciate, will bypass Hong Kong.”

The city has contended for some of the world’s hottest first public offerings in modern a long time, which include Alibaba, the New York-shown e-commerce titan, which journeyed to Hong Kong to increase $13 billion in a secondary listing in November 2019.

Hong Kong has been the world’s leading stock exchange by IPO worth seven periods due to the fact the handover, most just lately in 2019, when 146 corporations lifted a overall of $40 billion on the most important board, according to Dealogic info.

In a move that authorities say underscores the significance China attaches to Hong Kong, President Xi Jinping will attend the swearing in of the city’s new leader, John Lee, on Friday as very well as celebrations to mark the handover.

“I believe that the central government’s intention towards Hong Kong is benign. They really don’t want to mess up Hong Kong,” Hu reported.

A former safety chief who is sanctioned by the United States, Lee will be closely viewed by a financial industry keen to get back again on monitor just after crippling COVID-19 limitations that have triggered an exodus of folks and witnessed the border with mainland China largely shut for two decades.

David Chin, UBS’ UBSG.S head of financial investment banking for Asia-Pacific, is optimistic on Hong Kong’s outlook, despite the fact that he says China’s position on the international stage is critical.

“Hong Kong is also the intercontinental gateway for China,” he explained. “So the foreign romantic relationship, how China interacts with the rest of the globe, is also very critical for Hong Kong.”

($1 = 7.8490 Hong Kong pounds)

(Reporting By Selena Li, Kane Wu and Julie Zhu Writing by Anne Marie Roantree Enhancing by Gerry Doyle)

(([email protected] +852 97387151 Reuters Messaging: [email protected]))

The sights and viewpoints expressed herein are the sights and thoughts of the writer and do not automatically reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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