Monday 13 January 2020 3:02 pm

Hong Kong mulls ‘competitive’ tax measures to attract private equity funds

Hong Kong’s finance secretary has said its government is considering a more “competitive” tax arrangement to attract private equity funds to the territory and help support its struggling economy. 

Speaking at a regional finance forum on Monday, finance secretary Paul Chan said Hong Kong’s banking system was running smoothly and had ample liquidity despite the “unprecedented” turbulence it is facing.

Read more: Beijing appoints new envoy to Hong Kong as frustration grows over protests

Chan did not offer any further details on what measures the territory could take to attract private equity funds.

The financial hub’s economy slipped into its first recession in a decade in October following months of often violent anti-government protests, with demonstrators calling for greater independence from Beijing.

Hong Kong’s most senior judge today made a public plea for the rule of law to be protected in the territory. 

“The rule of law is rightly cherished by the community and is the foundation of a cohesive society,” Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma said during an event with Hong Kong and mainland Chinese lawyers as well some international jurists.

“We do all our best to preserve it and to treasure it because once damaged, this is not something from which our community can easily recover,” added Ma, who due to step down at the end of this year.

Hong Kong’s judiciary, which underpins the territory’s semi-autonomous status under the “one country, two systems” framework, is coming under strain following the over 7,000 arrests made since demonstrations began six months ago.

Ma and his justices are widely regarded as symbols of the freedoms granted to Hong Kong since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997, which have helped make it a key global financial hub.

Ma confirmed internal discussions over how to manage the judiciary’s caseload were ongoing, but said no decisions had been finalised.

His comments come shortly after the global head of Human Rights Watch said he was denied entry to the financial hub, where he was scheduled to launch the organisation’s latest global report.

Kenneth Roth said he was blocked from entering Hong Kong at its airport for the first time on Sunday, having previously entered the territory freely. 

““This year (the new world report) describes how the Chinese government is undermining the international human rights system. But the authorities just blocked my entrance to Hong Kong, illustrating the worsening problem,” Roth said on Twitter.

Roth added that Hong Kong immigration officials had cited only “immigration reasons”.

Read more: Carrie Lam: China to offer Hong Kong economic support amid continued protests

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in response that Human Rights Watch had encouraged radicals in the city “to take violent and extremist actions.”

“They have instigated the activities of Hong Kong separatists and hold a major responsibility for the current chaos,” Geng said.