Hong Kong doubles down on virus isolation as rivals reopen.


Hong Kong doubles down on virus isolation as rivals reopen.

Managers at global corporations are alarmed by Hong Kong’s plan to deepen its international coronavirus isolation as rivals reopen, as they see no end to a zero-Covid approach enforced by a leadership loyal to Beijing.

The coronavirus has been kept at bay in the southern Chinese economic hub thanks to some of the tightest quarantine laws in the world, with most guests spending 14 to 21 days in a hotel.

Face-to-face meetings, conferences, and executive travel are slowly returning in competitors such as London, New York, Tokyo, and Singapore.

However, Hong Kong, dubbed “Asia’s World City,” has taken the other path.

Even as China sees its fourth outbreak in the last five months, officials tightened the limits earlier this week in an attempt to maintain a travel bubble with the mainland.

Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, has stated that resuming travel to the mainland is “more vital” than reopening internationally, and that in order to gain Beijing’s trust, the city must be even tighter than authorities north of the border.

This decision has generated concern among executives, who are increasingly battling to retain talent and replace those who leave.

AFP spoke to six senior executives from foreign corporations to see if Hong Kong’s long-term survival as a commercial hub is in jeopardy, as one financial lobby group warned last week.

They all requested anonymity so that they could speak freely, and they painted a similar picture.

The epidemic began with admiration for the city’s ability to keep the coronavirus at bay, and quickly evolved into hope that immunizations will restore some semblance of normalcy this year.

However, there are concerns that Hong Kong, like China, would remain closed for much of next year.

“Everyone I speak to expects the quarantine to remain in place until after the Winter Olympics (in February) and possibly until Xi Jinping is re-elected,” James, an Australian banker who has lived in Hong Kong for 30 years, told AFP.

President Xi is anticipated to win a third term at a meeting of China’s leaders in October, and there are growing predictions that Beijing would not risk reopening the borders until that date has passed.

Regular departing parties and a decline in international school waiting lists, according to James, indicate a tiny but continuous outflow of foreign white-collar employees from Hong Kong, “particularly those with families.”

A company’s managing director. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.


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