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PROFILE: Peter Wong – Doing Beijing’s bidding at the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce

Peter Wong – Doing Beijing’s bidding at the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce ­
­When Beijing proposed its new extradition law for Hong Kong in March this year, among the bodies expressing concerns was the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC). Under its then Chairman, Aron Harilela, the HKGCC said that any update to the city’s extradition laws should be handled with extreme caution. 

How different things looked in May, with Peter Wong elected as the new Chair of the trade body. When Beijing proposed its new national security law for Hong Kong – a measure far more wide-ranging than the extradition law – the HKGCC did not utter a critical word. Quite on the contrary, Wong stepped forward and showed his personal backing by publicly signing a petition in support of the law. As CEO of HSBC Asia Pacific, an international bank with deep Hong Kong roots, Wong’s backing for the law sent a strong signal to the rest of the Hong Kong business community. 

Wong is a typical Hong Konger in many senses – he studied in the United States and is able to navigate the West and China equally well. However, he is not only a leading member of Hong Kong’s financial community; he also holds a number of key positions on the mainland and is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top advisory body. His actions as Chair of the HKGCC are a sign of how politicized life in Hong Kong has become. Beijing clearly expects businesses with strong ties in China to fall into line. 

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