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Business Embraces Hong Kong Security Law. The Money Helps.


A flood of investment from China has tempered worries that Beijing’s tightening grip on the Asian financial capital would end its status as a lucrative place to do business.
The business world has largely fallen in line behind China’s campaign to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, including its support for a new national security law that many residents fear will hurt the former British colony’s status as a laissez-faire, freethinking city.
Beijing twisted some arms to win that support, hinting that it could use its huge clout to punish any global company or local tycoon who crosses it. But China has also won over some business hearts and minds — and a big new inflow of Chinese money into the territory has helped it make its case.
The money, totaling billions of dollars in new stock offerings and property deals by blue-chip Chinese companies in the past few weeks alone, have bolstered perceptions in the business world that Hong Kong will remain a deeply profitable place to do business for years to come. Some business leaders and bankers even endorse Beijing’s argument that the new law will help Hong Kong’s status as a business hub by helping the police crack down on sometimes violent antigovernment protests.
In Hong Kong’s gleaming skyscrapers and wood-paneled conference rooms, many bankers and deal makers discussed their views only on condition of anonymity — less for fear of angering Beijing, and more out of concern about wading into a broader geopolitical showdown between the United States and China.
“The business community is a cheerleader,” said Fraser Howie, an author and former banker who writes about China’s financial system. “They have compartmentalized that, somehow, ‘I do business, not politics.’”
Chinese lawmakers in Beijing passed the law early on Tuesday, though by midday its text still had not been released publicly. Officials have indicated that it will allow a security agency to be placed in Hong Kong to put out any signs of dissent in the territory. Hong Kong’s top official will also be given the power to appoint judges to hear certain security-related cases, raising alarms about the erosion of Hong Kong’s once coveted independent judiciary.
In retaliation, the Trump administration and some American lawmakers have threatened to revoke the trade privileges the United States extends to Hong Kong. On Monday, hours before Chinese officials approved the law, the Trump administration put new restrictions on American exports of defense equipment and some high-technology products to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong residents who broadly oppose Beijing’s clampdown have waited nervously for weeks to find out what the law says. In that period, new Chinese deals have reassured many in the business world that Hong Kong will remain a great place to make a deal.
JD.com, the Chinese e-commerce retailer, raised $3.9 billion last week by selling shares on Hong Kong’s stock exchange. Just two weeks before, NetEase, a Chinese online game company, raised $2.

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