Banks call for order in Hong Kong as jewellers warn of trade fair dud
(Adds retailers, British consulate employee; paragraphs 16-17,
* Jewel traders want huge trade fair postponed
* Leading banks take out ads calling for law and order
* Airport again targeted in weekend protests
By Twinnie Siu and Donny Kwok
HONG KONG, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Hong Kong banks published
full-page newspaper ads calling for law and order in the
Chinese-ruled city and international jewellers sought the
rescheduling of a huge trade fair as weeks of pro-democracy
protests showed no sign of let-up on Thursday.
Thousands held a scrappy anti-government protest on
Wednesday at a suburban subway station where demonstrators were
attacked by a mob of white-shirted men last month.
Protesters at the subway station were angry that nobody had
yet been prosecuted for that violence. Police said they charged
two men with rioting in connection with the July attack, who are
to appear in court on Friday.
Wednesday's standoff stopped short of recent intense
clashes, including the storming of the legislature and
occupation of the airport, with police refraining from using
tear gas or attempting to storm protesters' lines. Police said
they arrested two men for unlawful assembly.
HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of East
Asia all urged the restoration of order in the former
British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
"Oppose violence, restore social order, safeguard Hong
Kong's status as an international financial centre," Standard
Chartered said in its advertisement.
Trade representatives of the world’s largest diamond trading
centres, from Antwerp, Mumbai and Ramat Gan, asked the organiser
of the high-profile Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair to postpone
the event, which typically draws more than 54,000 visitors.
In a letter, they told organiser Informa Markets that
between 30% and 40% of exhibitors were demanding to pull out of
the fair, due to be held in September at the Asia World
Exposition centre and the Wan Chai Convention and Exhibition
"In light of recent events, we urge Informa Markets to
consider the following; rather than potentially risking an empty
show in terms of both visitors and exhibitors, postpone the show
to a later date - as yet to be determined - once Hong Kong is in
a more stable climate," the representatives wrote.
"Additionally, we request financial compensation in the form
of a discount or refund for all participating companies."
AIRPORT 'STRESS TEST'
Protests erupted in Hong Kong in June over a now-suspended
bill that would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be
extradited to mainland China for trial but have since grown into
one of the biggest populist challenges faced by Chinese
President Xi Jinping since he took power in 2012.
The unrest has been fuelled by broader worries about the
erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the "one country, two
systems" formula adopted after 1997 but not enjoyed on the
mainland, including an independent judiciary and the right to
Several anti-government demonstrations are planned,
including a rally by hundreds of high school students on
Thursday and a "stress test" of the airport at the weekend.
The protests are already exacting a toll on Hong Kong's
economy and tourism, with the financial hub on the verge of its
first recession in a decade.
The Hong Kong Retail Management Association, which
represents more than 8,000 businesses, urged all landlords to
halve rents for six months.
"If the situation continues, it is expected that many
retailers may have to sack staff or even shut down," it said in
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam reiterated on Tuesday that the
extradition legislation was dead but has stopped short of
officially withdrawing the bill, as protesters have demanded.
Demonstrators are also calling for an independent inquiry
into the protests and perceived police brutality, a halt to
descriptions of the protests as "rioting", the waiver of charges
against those arrested, and resumption of political reform.
Beijing has reacted sharply to the protests and accused
foreign countries, including the United States, of fomenting
unrest. China has also sent a clear warning that forceful
intervention is possible, with paramilitary forces holding
drills in neighbouring Shenzhen.
An employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong has been
detained in China for involvement in prostitution, the
state-backed Global Times newspaper said.
China's foreign ministry confirmed that the employee, Simon
Cheng, was detained in Shenzhen. Britain has expressed its
extreme concern about the case.
U.S. President Donald Trump over the weekend warned against
a crackdown in Hong Kong like Beijing's suppression of
pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, which would
make reaching a deal he has been seeking to end a trade war with
China "very hard".
(Reporting by Donny Kwok, Felix Tam and Farah Master;
Writing by Farah Master and Nick Macfie;
Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez)
First Published: 2019-08-22 05:13:56
Updated 2019-08-22 12:55:08
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