Do not read too much international media and do not bet against China and Hong Kong, a top Chinese regulator told attendees of a global banking summit in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Fang Xinghai, vice chairperson of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, addressed attendees of the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit via video recording as the event kicked off. Outside the Four Seasons hotel, where some 200 officials and finance executives had gathered, Severe Tropical Storm Nalgae neared the city.

Fang Xinghai, vice chairperson of the China Securities Regulatory Commission. Photo: RTHK, via video screenshot.

Fang, speaking in English in the video, urged investors to “to find out what’s really going on in China, and what’s the real intention of our government by themselves.”

He told summit attendees not to “read too much of these international media,” and said that some international investors read “too much” overseas media reports of Chinese events.

“Because a lot of media reports… they really don’t understand China really well, and they have a short-term focus,” said Fang, who also told bankers to not “bet against China and Hong Kong.”

Mark Carney attending the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit on November 2, 2022. Photo: RTHK, via video screenshot.

In a separate discussion, Mark Carney, ex-governor of the Bank of Canada and Bank of England and now-vice-chair of Brookfield Asset Management, said that he would like to “commend the international media.”

“And I believe what I read in the international media,” said Carney, when answering a question about the UK economy.

‘Hong Kong always bounces back’

The summit was hailed by the government as a sign of the city’s return to normalcy after years of Covid-19 restrictions and resulting isolation.

Chief Executive John Lee, in a speech on Wednesday, told investors that Hong Kong was still “the only place in the world where the global advantage and the China advantage come together in a single city,” and that the city was an “irreplaceable connection” between China and the rest of the world.

The chief executive also attempted to reassure bankers about the strength of the city’s economy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Executive John Lee gave a keynote speech at the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit on November 2, 2022. Photo: GovHK.

“Hong Kong always bounces back, better than ever. We have full confidence in its tenacity. And its future. We are already seeing an encouraging rebound, as we continue to lift our COVID restrictions.”

No facemasks for most attendees

Unlike most arrivals in Hong Kong, summit guests have been permitted to eat in private dining rooms at restaurants and to enter some premises under the Covid-19 Vaccine Pass scheme, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced ahead of the summit.

Should any attendees tested positive for Covid-19 during their stay in the city, instead of going into a seven-day quarantine, they are allowed to leave Hong Kong on a private jet.

Under the city’s Covid-19 regulations, incoming travellers have to undergo three days of “medical surveillance” after they arrive, where they are not allowed to eat in restaurants, visits bars, or go to any premises under the Vaccine Pass.

The meeting on Wednesday also saw guests, including Lee, not wearing facemasks.

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan attending the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit on November 2, 2022, wearing a facemask. Photo: RTHK, via video screenshot.

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan, however, was wearing a mask as he recently contracted Covid-19 while on a business trip in Saudi Arabia.

Health authorities allowed him to attend the summit after ruling that he was a “recovered case,” but said that he would not be dining with other attendees.

Hong Kong reported 4,709 new Covid-19 infections and eight deaths on Wednesday. The city has recorded almost 1.93 million cases and 10,418 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic over two years ago.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.