Hong Kong—Despite the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill earlier this week, the turmoil that has rocked Hong Kong is not expected to abate anytime soon.
On Friday morning, September 6, Fitch Ratings downgraded Hong Kong’s rate from AA+ to AA. Furthermore, the credit rating agency, one of the most important in the world, also demoted Hong Kong’s outlook from stable to negative.
According to Fitch, the demotion “reflects our view that even with concessions to some protestor demands, a degree of public discontent is likely to persist” while acknowledging that the city’s “considerable financial buffers” would stay intact, which include a fiscal reserve that is equal to 40 percent of Hong Kong’s GDP, as reported in the Financial Times.
There are at least two major protests scheduled for the weekend. One will be held at Hong Kong’s International Airport once again, and the Civil Human Rights Front is planning on holding another mass procession as well. Previous protests at the airport succeeded in shutting it down completely, disrupting flight schedules and causing planes to be rerouted to other destinations, all of which has cost millions of dollars.
The planned protest at the airport caused airport officials to appeal to the demonstrators to hold the protest elsewhere. The Airport Authority Hong Kong took out a half-page advertisement in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) on September 6, asking rallyists to “Spare our passengers further disruption,” and “not to disrupt the journey of tens of thousands of travelers who use our airport every day.”
While Hong Kong’s beleaguered leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor announced on Wednesday, September 4, that the extradition bill over which the protests began last June would be fully withdrawn, this did not appease the demonstrators. SCMP reported that by later that day, two activists wearing masks held a media conference outside the city’s legislative council, “calling the move a band-aid on rotting flesh and reiterating their calls for ‘five demands, not one less.’”
The four other demands that the protestors have are an independent inquiry into the increasing brutality of the police against the rallyists, the retraction of the word “riot” to describe the protests, the release of all demonstrators who have been arrested, and the right for Hong Kong people to choose their own leaders.
The contentious bill had actually already been suspended by June 1, although this did little to stop the demonstrators, who were demanding complete withdrawal.
On Wednesday, Ms Lam said in a televised address that the government would “formally withdraw the bill in order to fully allay public concerns.”
“After more than two months of social unrest it is obvious to many that discontentment extends far beyond the bill. It covers political, economic and social issues,” she added.
Student activist Joshua Wong, one of the leaders of the demonstrations tweeted, “Initial response to Carrie Lam:
1.Too little and too late now — Carrie Lam’s response comes after seven lives sacrificed, more than 1,200 protestors arrested, in which many are mistreated in police station.
2. The intensified police brutality in the previous weeks have left an irreversible scar to the entire HK society. And therefore, at this very moment, when Carrie Lam announced withdrawal, people would not believe it is a ‘sincere’ move.
3. Instead, HK people are well-aware of her notorious track record. Whenever there are signs of sending a palm branch, they always come with a far tighter grip on exercising civil rights. Earlier today Ronny Tong has already advised using secret police.
4. We urge the world too to alert this tactic and not to be deceived by HK and Beijing Govt. They have conceded nothing in fact, and a full-scale clampdown is on the way.
5. In short, Carrie Lam’s repeated failure in understanding the situation has made this announcement completely out of touch – She needs to address to ALL Five Demands:STOP PROSECUTION, STOP CALLING US RIOTERS, INDEPENDENT INQUIRY OF POLICE and FREE ELECTION!” / TISG
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