Several banks including British company Standard Chartered have been forced to suspend a number of their branches in the centre of Hong Kong due to the mass pro-democracy protests.
In the areas affected by the protests, branches that offer over-the-counter services have deemed it necessary to close until the streets of Hong Kong begin to clear, with thousands of demonstrators flooding both highly functional streets and highways. This has led to eight –lane highways being deserted and 200 bus routes being either re-routed or cancelled.
In relation to the banking industry and in the case of Standard Chartered especially, many workers have been forced to work from home in order for the banks to still be able to provide continuous service to their customers. Singapore’s largest bank, DBS have also been forced into an emergency shutdown of its branch in the Admiralty neighbourhood, with the de-facto central bank being forced into even more drastic action by shutting 29 branches, offices and ATM’s.
The demonstration has not been peaceful to say the least, with demonstrators clashing with police, who have responded with baton charges and the throwing of tear gas. However, this didn’t stop others from joining the demonstration, with many more joining throughout the day, and others to re-joining once the working day was done.
The education system has also been greatly affected by the strikes, with many schools being forced to close due to Hong Kong’s school teachers union voting on Sunday in favour of a strike. Once schools had opened on Monday, the lack of staff encouraged student walkouts as a result.
The political unrest in Hong Kong is considered to be the worst seen in the city since 1997, when China took back control from the British. The protests cap off a worrying past few months for the city, as they come off the back of activists accusing the Chinese government on backing out of promises made regarding the opportunity of a free election for Hong Kong’s next mayor. This latest setback is sure to have a big impact on the Chinese economy and throws the region into further turmoil.