HONG KONG: PROTESTS VS. COVID


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As reported in last week’s Trends Journal, protests started heating up again on the streets of Hong Kong after the months-long string of demonstrations were stopped by stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus.
The city government proclaimed over the weekend that the majority of social-distancing restrictions would remain, including the ban on any public gatherings of more than eight people.
Despite the fact that some of the shutdown orders are being relaxed due to fewer cases of COVID-19 being reported, and only four deaths from the virus out of a population of 7.5 million, Hong Kong’s health minister warned, “As experts suggested that the virus may not be eliminated completely and could become endemic, Hong Kong has to rethink how to embrace the ‘new normal’.”
Already in recession before the COVID crisis, as a result of the ongoing protests, with expectations for the economic slump to dramatically deepen and real estate prices projected to fall 15 to 20 percent, the city is desperately trying to improve its image.
The Hong Kong government received seven bids for a year-long PR campaign to improve the city’s image worldwide. “We aim to inform target global audiences of Hong Kong’s economic recovery and responses to issues of international interest, including the facts surrounding Hong Kong’s efforts to address the Covid-19 crisis, and that Hong Kong remains always welcoming and ‘open for business’,” a city official stated.
TREND FORECAST: As economic conditions deteriorate, the Hong Kong riots and protests that began last October – demanding more freedom from mainland China – will continue to escalate.
It should be noted that prior to the Chinese Lunar New Year coronavirus outbreak this past January, China could not stop the demonstrations, which increasingly were turning violent.
 In the absence of another virus, man-made or natural, which again will be used to lock down the city, we forecast Beijing will use military/police force to quell dissent.
 

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