Norman Chan Tak-lam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, called on the pro-democracy activists to end their protest, saying that prolonging the Occupy campaign may weaken the city’s status as a global financial center.
“Hong Kong’s status as a global financial center has been fought hard, and if the Occupy Central movement continues, it could undermine social stability and the foundation of the city’s financial stability,” Chan told an interview with the Xinhua News Agency.
“We hope those activities that violate the rule of law could end as soon as possible,” he said.
Chan said 44 banking outlets have been forced to suspend operations at the height of the protest, although the financial markets have generally responded calmly to the campaign with no big fluctuations in foreign exchange and interest rates.
His predecessor Joseph Yam Chi-kwong also urged students to “return to the right track”, or Hong Kong will lose the chance of achieving universal suffrage – “whether it’s genuine or fake, ideal or realistic, pragmatic, none.”
In addition, Yam said, Hong Kong may risk losing “the rule of law” and hurt the city’s employment and livelihood, along with its fiscal and monetary stability.
The key for Hong Kong to thrive and prosper lies in its role as “intermediary” between mainland China and other parts of the world, he said.
“If the intermediary does not cooperate and create troubles, the mainland would definitely reduce its dependence and look for substitutes and reduce the policy sweeteners for Hong Kong,” Yam warned.
Meanwhile, K Wah Group chairman Lui Che-woo said he was “heart-broken” amid the confrontations between different groups in the community.
He urged the protesting students to leave the streets and restore social order as soon as possible.
Lui praised the students for their courage and ambition, but urged them to “make analysis of current situation with your eyes and brains, and do not be used by others”.
The impact of the protests on the city’s economy and the daily life of the people has become increasingly pronounced, and retailers, hotels and restaurants are already suffering, he said.
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