22 October 2016
Charles Li (right) doesn't need Santa's blessing for the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Connect to happen. It's ready to kick off next year.  Photos: HKEx, AFP
Charles Li (right) doesn't need Santa's blessing for the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Connect to happen. It's ready to kick off next year. Photos: HKEx, AFP

What I don’t want for Christmas is … HKEx

One can make any wish to Wong Tai Sin, the Great Immortal who is known to be generous in answering people’s prayers.

But since it’s Christmastime, most people, especially kids, would probably address their petitions to Santa Claus, who comes around this time of the year with his gift-laden, reindeer-driven sleigh.

More importantly, Santa seems more predisposed to grant what people need, because this festive season is more about love and giving, rather than what they want.

It is therefore a bit odd to see Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (00388.HK) chief Charles Li Xiaojia making a list of his business wishes for the second year.

He’s probably just trying to be witty in his own column (Li was a China Daily reporter), but many readers find his wishes quite naive.

So his letter began, “It’s so good to write to you again after all the wonderful gifts you gave to us last year. In fact, it was a pretty great year for HKEx overall.

“The entire staff at HKEx were good boys and girls, and worked hard during the first full year of Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect (can you believe it’s a year old already?). We are now busy improving this important bridge we built by working on access roads, signs, lighting and more while getting ready for the opening of another bridge.”

It is understandable why Li would say this, noting that the Securities and Futures Commission had already received an earlier Christmas gift from Beijing, in the form of the Hong Kong-China mutual fund recognition scheme, which was rolled out last week.

That is why Li almost spelled out what he really wants from Santa:

“Finally, Santa, I want you to be good to all my colleagues at HKEx. Each year they work tirelessly to ensure HKEx remains one of the top exchanges in the world, and they are among the reasons Hong Kong is a respected global centre of finance. They deserve a lot of generosity this year, so I hope you are good to them.

“If you are still thinking about gifts for them, perhaps I could offer a suggestion – toy trains are good, but the trains coming over the Connect bridges are fabulous!”

Truth to tell, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect doesn’t need Santa’s blessing. It’s ready to kick off next year.

What Hong Kong investors really need is Santa’s blessing to stay safe from volatility, which has been the hallmark of the exchange since the Stock Connect kicked off in November last year.

Hong Kong stocks this year peaked on May 26, when the Hang Seng Index reached 28,443 points and a market capitalization of HK$31.8 trillion.

But as of last Friday, the market has fallen 24 percent from the peak.

Still, Hong Kong is the world’s No. 1 market for initial public offerings, raising US$31.8 billion so far this year.

In terms of trading turnover, we had an average of HK$108 billion per day, up nearly 23 percent from the peak in 2007.

I am sure Santa has no mercy on greedy people.

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EJ Insight writer

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