Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury defends city’s financial status amid criticism

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Christopher Hui

1st December 2023 – (Hong Kong) Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Christopher Hui, has forcefully defended the city’s global financial standing amidst a wave of negative commentary on mainland Chinese social media. Critics likened the building that houses Hong Kong’s stock exchange to an antiquated relic.

Secretary Hui became the first government official to respond to these claims on Friday, arguing that Hong Kong’s reputation as a leading financial hub is not a fragile monument susceptible to pressure. He asserted that while the city’s financial market has encountered challenges due to global macroeconomic factors, such as an uncertain economic outlook, volatile geopolitical conditions, and an extended interest rate environment, its foundation remains solid and continues to grow.

The criticism arose following data from financial information provider Refinitiv, which showed that proceeds from Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) in Hong Kong reached a 20-year low. The data also ranked Hong Kong’s stock market ninth in a global list for the first half of 2023, a decline from its third place in the 2022 list.

Despite this, local figures suggest that the financial sector accounted for 22.4% of the city’s gross domestic product, an increase from 21.3% in 2021.

Bernard Chan, chairman of the Our Hong Kong Foundation think tank, downplayed the criticisms from mainland internet users, advising they should not be taken too seriously. However, he acknowledged that Hong Kong’s economy was under pressure, with its performance closely tied to mainland China, which is currently experiencing a slowdown.