Cathay Pacific’s fate rattles multinationals in Hong Kong

MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES in Hong Kong operated under the convenient illusion, nurtured by China’s Communist Party, that the mainland would not meddle (too much) in the territory’s business affairs. That faith, already shaken during weeks of political protests against the entrepot’s pro-Beijing government, is in tatters following China’s treatment of Cathay Pacific, an airline based in Hong Kong. Earlier this month China’s aviation regulator barred cabin crew found to have participated in or supported the demonstrations, which many Cathay staff openly had, from flying over the mainland. The carrier yielded to the pressure and even fired four staff, including two pilots. On August 16th it announced the departure of Rupert Hogg, chief executive since 2017. Though Mr Hogg said he was taking responsibility for what had been “challenging weeks” for the airline, China left little doubt as to the circumstances of his exit.

Businesses have a right to be rattled. The assault on Cathay is unprecedented in its speed and scope. Chinese state media shrilly denounced the company, and social media brimmed with indignant calls to boycott it. CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, reported Mr Hogg’s departure half an hour before Hong Kong’s bourse, where Cathay is listed. CCTV paired it with a Chinese internet meme that roughly translates to “You would not be...

via Business Feeds

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