Hong Kong’s biggest businesses are lining up behind Beijing, which protects business interests whilst stifling civil liberties. Many business groups got rich under both British and Chinese rule.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The national security law that mainland China wants to impose on Hong Kong has found its strongest supporters among the territory’s banks and wealthier families who have been in business since colonial times, their wealth growing under successive friendly regimes.
Last month, the National People's Congress (NPC), China’s parliament, adopted legislation banning sedition, subversion and secession, as well as cooperating with foreign forces.
Although the new law violates Hong Kong’s Basic Law, China will likely impose it on the territory this summer. However, for most Hong Kongers – who have been fighting for more than a year to obtain full democracy – the law will restrict civil liberties and bury for good the "One country, two systems" principle that guaranteed the territory’s more open way of life.
Both Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Maria Tam, Hong Kong’s presentative in the Standing Committee of the NPC, tried to reassure the business community that the security law is not aimed at them, that in fact, it would be good for business.
Business groups like the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC), the Standard Chartered Bank, magnate Li Kashing, the Kadoorie family, Swire Pacific, Jardine Matheson and many other companies and firms have openly expressed their support for the law.
Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his representatives met with some of Hong Kong wealthiest people, urging them to show their loyalty to China and condemn pro-democracy protests, which the mainland views as "terrorism".
According to Bloomberg, a year of pro-democracy protests and strikes (the so-called terrorism targeted by the security law) did not affect the wealth of Hong Kong’s richest and most powerful people, indeed their assets have grown by 0.7 per cent.