Copying and distributing are prohibited without permission of the publisher.

Watermark

The week in renminbi: Hong Kong unrest worsens, Chinese banks’ woes continue, offshore market records large weekly outflows

Hong Kong island adobe stock 230x150
By Rebecca Feng
12 Aug 2019

In this round-up, China warned Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways amid intensifying protests in the city, Hengfeng Bank received state backing after Baoshang and Jinzhou moves and the offshore Chinese market experienced the largest outflows since March

China’s Civil Aviation Administration issued a formal warning on Friday to Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s major airline, asking the airline to remove all employees who have been involved in the protests from flights to the mainland.

The order came after hundreds of Cathay employees participated in the protests against the extradition bill in Hong Kong and took part in a general strike on Monday, causing flight cancellations.

The Chinese regulator also required the airline to submit crew’s information to the Chinese authorities for approval ahead of mainland-bound flights, which took effect on Sunday. Finally, the airline must inform the mainland authorities of its planned measures to strength internal control, improve flight safety and security before August 15.

Separately, China’s foreign ministry criticised UK’s foreign minister Dominic Raab for holding a phone call with Carrie Lam, chief executive of Hong Kong on August 9.

“Today’s Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China,” the statement read. “It has long ceased to be a colony of the UK. The UK has no sovereign right, governing right, or supervision right in Hong Kong.”

*

Shandong-based Hengfeng Bank became the third bank in China to get a bailout or takeover from the state. Central Huijin Investment, a state-owned fund, will become a strategic investor of the bank, local media Caixin reported on Saturday. Support from the Shandong provincial government is also expected.

Following the takeover of Baoshang Bank in May and Bank of Jinzhou in late July, Hengfeng is the third bank to receive state support. In 2017, the chairman of the bank was investigated for corruption. The bank has not issued annual reports for the last two years.

*

Against the backdrop of a weakening renminbi last week, the offshore Chinese market experienced its largest weekly outflows since March.

A total of $1.9bn fled the offshore China equity market from overseas funds in the first week of August, according to a weekly fund flow monitor note by from the China International Capital Corporation.

Stock Connect, a trading scheme connecting the mainland stock market with foreign investors in Hong Kong, recorded an average daily net outflow of Rmb1.7bn ($241m) from Monday to Thursday last week.

*

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) issued its monetary policy report for the second quarter on Friday evening. The central bank suggested that its accommodative monetary policy stance would likely continue.

While structural deleveraging was “de-emphasised” in the policy report, language stressing the need to maintain stabilities in employment, trade, financial markets, investment, foreign capital, and market expectations was added, according to Maggie Wei, a China economist at Goldman Sachs.

“On the exchange rate, we think the PBoC opened the door for further RMB depreciation should export and overall economic growth weaken more in light of higher tariffs and ongoing trade tensions with the US,” Wei added in a Saturday note.

The report also stressed that property should not be used for speculation and discouraged policymakers from using the real estate market as a short-term stimulus to the economy.

By Rebecca Feng
12 Aug 2019