Chief Executive John Lee said the number of business representatives joining a major banking summit in Hong Kong was “within the expectation” of the government despite several bankers announcing their withdrawals last minute.

Chief Executive John Lee met the press on November 1, 2022. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

On Tuesday, Lee was asked whether authorities were disappointed about the pull-outs when he met the press ahead of his Executive Council meeting, as the government has hailed the event as one that will communicate that Hong Kong is “back in business.” The two-day summit, scheduled to begin on Wednesday, aims to reassert the city’s status as a global financial hub after strict Covid-19 travel restrictions have left it isolated.

“As far as we know, two people could not come because they were infected with Covid-19 [in their own country], that’s just a very small number. Another person [decided not to come] because of their own schedule… So far, there will be more than 200 participants, which matches with our expectation,” Lee said.

The Central district in Hong Kong. Photo: GovHK.

Lee also refuted criticism that there were “double standards” in arrivals rules as visiting bankers will be allowed to dine with others in private rooms at restaurants despite them having amber QR codes. Under Hong Kong’s latest Covid-19 rules, inbound travellers are issued an amber code for their first three days in the city, barring them from specified premises such as going to restaurants, bars and gyms.

Lee cited his maiden Policy Address, saying the government could allow certain activities to be held and special arrangements to be made under the coloured QR code system if the risks are manageable.

“Be it the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit or other events such as the Hong Kong Sevens, we will review these special measures… and see how future measures can be planned,” Lee said.

Paul Chan’s Return

Financial Secretary Paul Chan is set to arrive in Hong Kong from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday afternoon, five days after testing positive for Covid-19 in the Saudi capital Riyadh during a business trip in the Middle East.

Paul Chan at a business breakfast on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia. Photo: GovHK.

Lee said the minister will undergo an on-arrival polymerase chain reaction test and if the result shows that he is still infected with Covid, “he will have to isolate himself.”

If Chan is given the all clear, it is expected he will attend the banking summit in person.

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.