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Hong Kong: Banks Relocating, Port Authorities Mum

Hong Kong: Banks Relocating, Port Authorities Mum

Los Angeles, CA – Updates on the continuing situation in Hong Kong…

* US Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi are holding talks today in Washington, DC that are expected to address the growing political crisis in Hong Kong.

“This is obviously a prominent issue in the news, one the secretary is well aware of, and I expect it will be a part of this discussion,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

* The Hong Kong stock exchange “insists” it will continue to operate as normal but the Hong Kong Monetary Authority says 17 banks – including Standard Chartered and HSBC Holdings – have been forced to close 29 branches across the city.

A number of financial sector firms are moving staff to contingency premises on the outskirts of the city. According to media reports, JP Morgan, Bank of America, CITIC Securities, HSBC, Société Générale and Barclays are considering the option of moving staff to ‘back office’ sites outside Hong Kong. On Monday, it was reported that 44 branches, offices or ATMs from 23 different banks had been temporarily shut down in the face of protests.

* Earlier this week, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said it was standing by to provide additional liquidity if required.

* Concerns are growing over the possible impact of the demonstrations on the movement of goods in and out of Hong Kong’s container terminals. Information is scarce on cargo movement at the port as, to date, neither the Hong Kong government, the Hong Kong Container Terminal Operators Association, nor the Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association have issued statements on the situation.

* Mobile messaging app FireChat has reportedly been downloaded more than 200,000 times in Hong Kong since Monday. FireChat allows users to bypass mobile networks, meaning it is easier to bypass the strict censorship rules recently applied by the Chinese authorities.

* Users of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in Hong Kong have had their access blocked.

* L’Oreal, the world’s top cosmetics group, has suspended all business travel to Hong Kong until “at least” Monday, October 6. The French company has a major subsidiary based in Hong Kong that serves the company’s huge customer base in Asia. Italian luxury group Prada said today that it is was monitoring the situation on a hourly basis and closing shops early when necessary.

Domestic Hong Kong rival Tod’s also said its Hong Kong shops located in the Landmark and Pacific Place shopping malls had closed one hour early on Sunday and Monday, in line with guidance issued by the affected shopping malls.


Updated Reactions to the Situation in Hong Kong

Los Angeles, CA – The following statements were released earlier today on the developing situation in Hong Kong:

From the White House:

The United States supports universal suffrage in Hong Kong in accordance with the ‘Basic Law’ and we support the aspirations of the Hong Kong people.

“We believe that an open society with the highest possible degree of autonomy and governed by the rule of law is essential for Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.

“Indeed, this is what has made Hong Kong such a successful and truly global city to this point.

“We’ve consistently made our position known to Beijing and we’ll continue to do so. We believe that the basic legitimacy of the Chief Executive in Hong Kong will be greatly enhanced if the Basic Law’s ultimate aim of selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage is fulfilled.

“We also believe that the legitimacy of the Chief Executive will be enhanced if the election provides the people of Hong Kong a genuine choice of candidates that are representative of the people’s and the voters’ will.”

From the US Consulate General in Hong Kong:

“The United States strongly supports Hong Kong’s well-established traditions and Basic Law protections of internationally recognized fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press.

“We do not take sides in the discussion of Hong Kong’s political development, nor do we support any particular individuals or groups involved in it.

“Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity have long benefited from a vigorous dialogue among its citizens and a firmly established tradition of the peaceful and orderly expression of differing views.

“In accordance with this tradition, we encourage all sides to refrain from actions that would further escalate tensions, to exercise restraint, and to express views on the SAR’s political future in a peaceful manner.”

From the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) in Hong Kong:

“The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong The AmCham Hong Kong office is staffed today, but our noontime event will be rescheduled because transportation to Central and immediate surrounding areas is limited by police restrictions on road and MTR use.

“The Chamber urges all parties in the current situation to avoid violence and to vigorously pursue constructive discussions in an environment that embraces the principles of the rule of law and transparency for which Hong Kong is justly so well known.

“The Chamber urges a de-escalation of the current tensions, and it encourages a return to the usual stability on the streets and of business operations while the leaders and participants in all sides in the demonstrations work toward a resolution of their disputes.”

From the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) in Hong Kong:

“We are monitoring the situation closely, and cannot say much more than that at this point in time.

“Our own HKTDC promotional activities and events will continue as planned, and we are confident that Hong Kong’s firm foundation of free trade and its resilient economy will maintain the territory’s position as a prime regional and international business hub.”

As of this posting, the US Embassy has not issued a statement commenting on the situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.