Dimon’s trip may have spurred some tired bankers, but it angered others as well. His rivals, already furious that Hong Kong was tightening its rules earlier this month, are frustrated that the powerful banker was given “preferential” treatment for his 32-hour visit last week.
Days after Dimon’s visit, Goldman’s Solomon said he did not expect to be able to visit Hong Kong or China for “some time” due to restrictions. A fleeting Dimon trip comes months after Hollywood star Nicole Kidman’s exemption from the ultra-strict rules sparked public ire.
Among bankers, the feeling of injustice is added to a feeling of growing discontent.
A major financial lobby group warned the Hong Kong government last month that its zero Covid approach could affect its status as a financial hub. Nearly half of the group’s members are considering “moving staff or functions out of Hong Kong” due to uncertainty over when the rules will be relaxed.
US Chamber of Commerce President Tara Joseph has now resigned after being unable to influence the measures, arguing that if she returned from the United States to Hong Kong she would face three weeks in a hotel and that it is not in his nature “to advocate for something and then go into quarantine as a sidekick.” Despite calls for change, Hong Kong ended exemptions for senior executives on Nov. 12.
“It’s absolutely a problem, not just in meeting rooms, but for families. Many families are now making decisions about where they want to be based on the changing environment. From my network of friends [in Hong Kong], I hear that the mood is rather dark, ”says a senior banker who worked in the city.
“Hong Kong keeps pace with China. Singapore is smart [about attracting business from Hong Kong] – it’s not marketing itself, because Hong Kong does all the marketing for it.
The struggle is felt in all sectors. Philip Dykes, former head of the Hong Kong Bar Association, said he was “aware of many lawyers, both newly qualified and with established practices, moving overseas,” while Cathay Pacific is considering asking its pilots to live outside Hong Kong for several months due to quarantine rules.
The move comes after more than 100 Cathay Pacific pilots were forced into 21 days of quarantine because they stayed in the same Frankfurt hotel as colleagues who tested positive.
Businesses are feeling the effects of Hong Kong and mainland China’s determination to eradicate the virus on a daily basis. Disneyland in Hong Kong was closed for the day last week after a visitor tested positive, while workers in hazmat suits flooded Disneyland in Shanghai earlier this month to stamp the 34 000 visitors who were locked inside because someone had the virus.
Chinese pharmacies must register contact information for anyone purchasing cough and fever medicine.
Yet not all business leaders are annoyed by this tough stance. Europe’s largest bank, HSBC, is betting all on continued growth in Asia, where it already earns most of its money. He publicly supported Beijing’s controversial security law as well as its unpopular quarantine measures.