Cyclone, absences threaten to dull Hong Kong finance meeting

Nov 1, 2022, 3:00 AM | Updated: 5:02 am
FILE - A visitor sets up his camera in the Victoria Peak area to photograph Hong Kong's skyline, Se...

FILE - A visitor sets up his camera in the Victoria Peak area to photograph Hong Kong's skyline, Sept. 1, 2019. A tropic storm and absences of VIP guests have cast a shadow over Wednesday's planned financial conference meant to help Hong Kong restore its image as a financial hub and destination for business travel. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

HONG KONG (AP) — A tropical storm and absences of VIP guests have cast a shadow over a financial conference meant to help Hong Kong restore its image as a financial hub and destination for business travel.

The first major conference since the city lifted COVID-19 quarantine restrictions was due to begin Wednesday. But at least four top executives from institutions including the CEOs of Citigroup and Barclays, who had been expected to attend the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit, were dropping out.

The Hong Kong Observatory forecast that tropical storm Nalgae would likely bring torrential rains as it passes 200 kilometers (120 miles) to the southwest, in further bad news for organizers of the meeting.

At least four top finance executives initially slated to attend the conference this week have dropped out. They include Blackstone Inc. President Jonathan Gray and Citigroup Inc.’s CEO Jane Fraser, who will no longer attend the conference after contracting COVID-19. The CEO of Barclays, C.S. Venkatakrishnan, also scrapped plans to go. Gray was slated to speak in a panel on global uncertainty, while Fraser was supposed to discuss sustainable finance.

On Tuesday, Capital Group Cos.’ CEO Timothy Armour became the latest chief executive to withdraw from the conference, for health reasons.

The city’s T3 strong wind signal was in force Tuesday, with the possibility a higher signal might be raised, depending on the storm. Typically, most businesses close and events are postponed if a T8 strong wind signal is raised. But the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, organizer of the summit, said it would go ahead even if the T8 signal is hoisted.

The main events of the conference take place Wednesday.

Authorities have pulled out all the stops for the gathering, tailoring restrictions for participants such as allowing them to dine in at specific restaurants, even as most other inbound travelers are banned from doing so for three days after they arrive in the city.

Other restrictions include allowing attendees who test positive for COVID-19 to leave by chartered flights if they want to, instead of having to be isolated for at least seven days in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong leader John Lee said during a news conference Tuesday that it was to be a “vibrant” week for Hong Kong.

When asked if the restrictions designed for conference participants constituted a “double standard,” Lee said different plans are formulated to ensure activities can go ahead.

“It’s on these principles that we put in place certain measures so that some major events can go ahead in Hong Kong,” he said.

Illustrating the impatience in Hong Kong for a reopening on the neighboring Chinese mainland, the city’s benchmark Hang Seng index jumped 5.2% on Tuesday following unconfirmed rumors that China may be beginning to plan to dismantle its stringent COVID-19 controls, which involve mass testing and sometimes lock-downs of entire neighborhoods or cities.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, told reporters he was “not aware of what you just mentioned” when asked about the rumor.

Some U.S. lawmakers have urged American companies not to participate in the meeting given tensions with China over trade and human rights. The U.S. has been vocal about a crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong after the semi-autonomous territory implemented its National Security Law.

Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Jim McGovern, who chair the Congressional Executive Commission on China, urged financial executives to reconsider their decision to attend the Hong Kong event.

“Their presence only serves to legitimize the swift dismantling of Hong Kong’s autonomy, free press, and the rule of law by Hong Kong authorities acting along with the Chinese Communist Party,” they said in a statement.

After loosening its once strict pandemic precautions, Hong Kong is trying to get back on track as a destination for all kinds of tourism.

The former British colony is due to hold the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament from Nov. 4-6, for the first since the pandemic began. The city’s is also holding a five-day “FinTech Week,” with hundreds of exhibitors and speakers and an expected total turnout of thousands.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2017 file photo, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer informs a migrant c...
Associated Press

Mexican asylum seekers set their sights north — on Canada

MONTREAL (AP) — Pedro Meraz says living in Colima, Mexico, was like living in a war zone, with shootings, burning cars and dismembered bodies being left outside of schools. When his wife Rocio Gonzalez, a 28-year-old lawyer who worked with abused women, began receiving death threats from a cartel and the local authorities ignored her […]
5 hours ago
General view of the damaged Antonivsky Bridge in Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. The bridg...
Associated Press

Pockets of shelling across Ukraine as wintry warfare looms

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — Shelling by Russian forces struck several areas in eastern and southern Ukraine overnight as utility crews continued a scramble to restore power, water and heating following widespread strikes in recent weeks, officials said Sunday. With persistent snowfall blanketing the capital, Kyiv, Sunday, analysts predicted that wintry weather — bringing with it […]
5 hours ago
Residents stand in line to enter a store which controls the flow of shoppers in Beijing, Sunday, No...
Associated Press

Protests of strict lockdown hit Shanghai, other China cities

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Protests against China’s strict “zero-COVID” policies resurfaced in Shanghai and Beijing on Sunday afternoon, continuing a round of demonstrations that have spread across the country since a deadly apartment fire in the northwestern city of Urumqi led to questions over such rigid anti-virus measures. Crowds stood and filmed as police started […]
5 hours ago
A U.S. soccer federation screenshot displaying Iran's national flag on social media without the emb...
Associated Press

At World Cup, US soccer scrubs Islamic emblem from Iran flag

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The U.S. soccer federation is displaying Iran’s national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, saying the move supports protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations’ World Cup match Tuesday. Iran’s government reacted by accusing America of removing the name of God from their national flag. […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Police: 2 young children stabbed to death in Bronx apartment

NEW YORK (AP) — Two small children died of stab wounds after their mother was taken into custody for observation Saturday night in New York City, police said. A 3-year-old boy and an 11-month-old boy were found in a Bronx apartment with multiple stab wounds to the neck and torso and did not survive after […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History: November 27, Moscone and Milk fatally shot

Today in History Today is Sunday, Nov. 27, the 331st day of 2022. There are 34 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Nov. 27, 1978, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone (mah-SKOH’-nee) and City Supervisor Harvey Milk, a gay-rights activist, were shot to death inside City Hall by former supervisor Dan White. […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Cyclone, absences threaten to dull Hong Kong finance meeting