Economic tsunami is coming, warns Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam

Updated: Aug 10, 2019, 09:39 IST | Agencies

Warning comes as the pro-democracy protest enters its third month with thousands of activists flooding airport, hoping to win international support

Economic tsunami is coming, warns Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam
Protesters hold up a banner as they rally against the extradition bill at the airport on Friday. Pic/AFP

Hong Kong: Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam warned Friday that two months of pro-democracy demonstrations were causing economic chaos in the city but ruled out making concessions to "silence the violent protesters." Sge abruptly announced a press meet after meeting business leaders as demonstrators rallied at the airport, with the protest movement entering its third month. Lam, whose support for a bill to allow extradition to mainland China sparked the crisis, warned that the economic impact of the unrest threatened to be worse than the 2003 SARS outbreak. "The downturn this time came very quickly. Someone described it as coming like a tsunami," Lam said.

"Compared to the economic downturn caused by SARS, which caused an economic storm, the situation this time is more severe." "In other words, the economic recovery will take a very long time," she added. While Lam is a figure of hatred for many pro-democracy activists, her comments echo worried statements from the private sector and the tourism industry in particular. Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific has warned bookings are down, travel agencies have reported drops of up to 50 per cent in group tour bookings and the tourism board reported double-digit declines in visitor arrivals in the second half of July.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong leader
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong leader

On Friday, of pro-democracy activists chanted for reform on Friday as they staged a sit-in at Hong Kong airport, hoping to win international support for their movement after two months of protests. "Save Hong Kong from tyranny and police brutality!" read one sign on a piece of cardboard. "We want to tell the passengers what's happening in Hong Kong, so we prepared these leaflets showing our five major demands," said Charlotte Au, a 16-year-old student among the protesters. "We hope to let them know the truth through our communication and gain their support," she told AFP. Lam has suspended the bill that sparked the crisis, but has ruled out meeting the demands of protesters, which also include a call for the direct election of the city's chief executive, currently chosen by Beijing.

US calls China a 'thuggish regime'

The US on Thursday branded China a "thuggish regime," hours after Beijing issued a stern warning to American diplomats in Hong Kong to not interfere in the city's internal affairs. The US reaction came after local media reports emerged that a US official from the American consulate general in Hong Kong had met with a local "independence group".

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