How Damaging Are the Hong Kong Protests For Our City?
Many of Pathfinder’s clients are headquartered outside Asia and, as a result, we are being asked every day what the business impact of the ongoing protests is going to be. As a business owner and long-term resident, I have always been impressed by how tough and resilient the people of Hong Kong are.
In 2003/4 during SARS, whilst a sense of global panic rose, Hong Kong, effectively the epicenter, employed sensible health and immigration checks and soldiered on; even holding the annual Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, right in the middle of all the turmoil.
During the Global Financial Crisis, Hong Kong’s businesses, both large and small, fought tooth-and-nail to remain viable. They largely succeeded and have subsequently prospered.
Used to living in tiny apartments, traveling to the office in overcrowded buses and trains and typically putting in some of the longest working hours in the world, the population of Hong Kong is not easily deterred.
Despite weeks of turmoil, considerable traffic disruptions and the trauma of not knowing what is going to happen next, Hong Kong citizens continue to ensure they are keeping their city functioning.
Walking down Queens Road at lunchtime today, the pavements were packed full of people going about their business, running out to grab a quick bite to eat, or a ‘breath of fresh air’ (actually, it’s hot, humid and polluted air, but still…). There is little evidence (outside of protest days) that HK is a city in virtual lockdown or on the ‘verge of collapse’. For the greatest part of the week, shops are open as usual, public transport is running and restaurants, cafes, and bars are serving up their normal offerings. Banks are not blocked, or blocking customers and there is no run on them.
We may be a city in a serious situation and I have no wish to denigrate the struggle that some of my peers are experiencing, but it makes me very proud to be part of a community where the people are so loyal and determined to ensure ‘business as usual’.