lørdag 9. oktober 2021

Hong Kong prioritized opening to China over the rest of the world. Now it's stuck in Covid limbo

Almost two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, some of the world's major business hubs -- including New York, London and Paris -- are reopening as travel restrictions relax and daily life resumes. But one city, arguably Asia's biggest financial center, is absent from the list: Hong Kong. Hong Kong closed its borders to non-residents in early 2020 at the start of the pandemic. The semi-autonomous Chinese territory recently reopened to foreign visitors, although it still has some of the harshest quarantine rules in the world.

The long closure has impacted businesses and frustrated residents. Yet the government has stood firm -- repeatedly emphasizing that its priority is reopening its border with mainland China, not with the rest of the world. "We have made it very clear that our focus will be opening the border with the mainland. Hong Kong people need to go to the mainland," said the city's leader, Carrie Lam, at a news conference on Tuesday. "Of course, international travel is important, international business is important to us -- but by comparison, the mainland is more important."

Lam's comments illustrate just how closely Hong Kong's government has tied its Covid strategy with China -- not surprising for a Chinese territory but a further sign of Hong Kong's deteriorating reputation as an international hub.