Hong Kong officials warn protests will hit economy like a “tsunami”

World Today

In Hong Kong, the largest city-wide strikes in decades are hurting the local economy. The latest protest focused on the airport.

Hong Kong authorities are warning that weeks of protest will hit the economy like a “tsunami.” In a press conference on Friday surrounded by business leaders, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that disruptions to traffic and retail stores will hurt growth, saying it will be worse than the outbreaks of SARS in 2003.

“In comparison with those days when we were faced with the impact of SARS and even the global financial crisis, the impact on the economy this time is even more severe. The recovery of the economy will be a long road,” Carrie Lam said.

The deadly respiratory disease spread through Hong Kong in 2003, killing hundreds and slamming the economy. Lam said she is considering bold measures to help the economy but didn’t offer any concessions to those protesting, instead demanding the protests cease. Business groups, like the Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong, also appealed for an end to the protests that have seen thousands take to the streets.

The protests originally started this summer opposing a so-called “fugitive bill” that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland. That bill has been suspended but the protests have continued, criticizing Lam’s management.

Protestors vowed to keep the demonstrations going. “To let everyone in the world be aware of the issue here, to increase international awareness,” Peter Lam an IT worker said.

China demanded Friday that Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific suspend personnel supporting protests, following demonstrations at the airport. Hundreds took part in a sit-in, although most flights operated as normal.

The U.S. and China have traded insults over the ongoing situation in Hong Kong. The U.S. State Department spokeswoman called China “thuggish” after it objected to a U.S. diplomat meeting with the protestors.

China’s Commissioner’s office spokesperson responded and criticized the U.S. remarks as “gangster logic.”