TL;DR: Hours after Reuters reported Hong Kong tycoons were moving millions of personal wealth out of the region, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced suspension of a controversial extradition bill that spurred historic anti-government protests and, up until recently, she was still defending.
Hong Kong Whales Moving Wealth
Lam suddenly announced, “After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days, I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise, restart our communication with all sectors of society, do more explanation work and listen to different views of society. I want to stress that the government is adopting an open mind.”
She has been at the forefront of a giant political controversy, one that set her comparatively tiny geographic economic zone in direct conflict with mainland China, home to one of the last avowed communist regimes in the world. At issue is a piece of legislation governing criminal extradition. It was set to umbrella all Hong Kongers and foreigners, making them ultimately subject to laws very outside those governing still much of the former British colony.
Nearly a million people, 1 in 7 of its residents, took to the streets in protest. While chamber of commerce and travel campaigns set the area as a financial oasis, news media around the world showed an underbelly seemingly aching to express itself. The local government responded with riot police, tear gassing mostly peaceful, unarmed protesters — not scenes normally associated with high finance. With further planned demonstrations for 16 June 2019, Sunday, Lam caved, insisting she would indefinitely shelve the bill in hopes of quelling anger. Opposition leaders have rejected her offer, asking for both her resignation and the extradition proposal’s permanent removal.
Some stress street protests are what caused Lam’s change of heart, and others are pointing to a US delegation on its way to intervene. Mere hours before, however, Reuters published what it claimed were exclusive reports Hong Kong tycoons are beginning to move assets offshore in response to popular uproar and government incompetence. Interviews with several whales confirmed amounts like $100,000 million were shifted to economic rival Singapore. An unnamed private banker agreed, saying “clients have been moving money out of Hong Kong to Singapore. ‘These aren’t mainland Chinese clients who might be politically exposed, but wealthy Hong Kong clients,’ the banker said. ‘The situation in Hong Kong is out of control. They can’t believe that Carrie Lam or Beijing leaders are so stupid that they don’t realize the economic damage from this.’”
DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH.
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