Hong Kong government disagrees with Moody’s rating downgrade

China State Media

China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said on early Tuesday that it strongly disagrees with Moody’s latest decision to downgrade Hong Kong’s credit rating.

Moody’s Investors Service announced on Monday to downgrade Hong Kong’s long-term issuer rating to “Aa3” from “Aa2.” The institution, however, changed Hong Kong’s credit outlook to “stable” from “negative.”

In response to the rating downgrade, a HKSAR government spokesman said, “We strongly disagree with Moody’s assessment of Hong Kong’s current situation and are deeply disappointed by Moody’s decision to downgrade Hong Kong’s credit rating.”

Since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, the HKSAR government has been implementing “one country, two systems,” “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy in strict accordance with the Basic Law, the spokesman said. “We do not consider that there is sufficient ground for Moody’s to raise any query on them.”

“Although Hong Kong has faced the most severe social unrest since its return to the motherland in the past seven months or so, the HKSAR government, with the staunch support of the central government, has firmly upheld the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and handled the situation in accordance with the law to curb violence on its own to restore social order as soon as possible,” he added.

The spokesman pointed out that Moody’s rating falls way out of line with Hong Kong’s sound credit fundamentals. “Our fiscal performance and external positions have long been amongst those of the top-rated economies and serve as a strong buffer for Hong Kong to withstand shocks.”

Confidence in the Linked Exchange Rate System has remained strong, as acknowledged by Moody’s, he said, adding that the banks are well cushioned given their strong capital base, sound liquidity and healthy asset quality, and capital markets have had a good run in the past year, as initial public offerings and bond financing activities have continued to thrive, and Stock Connect and Bond Connect saw surges in turnover.

“The persistent social unrest reflects that there are deep-seated problems in society in Hong Kong, on which the government will conduct an independent review soon. We are also proactively engaging people from different backgrounds, political stances and age groups through dialogue and listening to their views humbly to find a way out for society,” the spokesman said.

He pointed out that quite a number of social issues that Hong Kong is facing, including wealth inequality, an aging population and high home prices as mentioned by Moody’s, are not unique to Hong Kong. In spite of these issues, “Hong Kong’s institutional strengths and its core competitiveness as an international financial center, trade hub as well as one of the best places in the world to do business remains well in place.”

The spokesman elaborated on how the HKSAR government has been proactively handling the above-mentioned social issues over the years, stressing that “the HKSAR government will continue to humbly listen to members of the public and strengthen communications with the citizens, overcome these challenges and help relaunch Hong Kong.”

Source: China State Media

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Jan. 21, 2020