Hong Kong is in recession and there are no signs of a decline in protests
Economy News - Baghdad
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong's finance minister said the city was in recession after more than five months of anti-government protests showing no signs of abating and was unlikely to achieve annual economic growth this year.
"The blow to our economy is inclusive," Paul Chan said in a post on Sunday, adding that the preliminary estimate of third quarter GDP on Thursday would show two consecutive quarters of deflation, the technical definition of a recession.
He said it would be "very difficult" to meet the government's forecast before the protests with annual economic growth of 0-1 percent.
Protests in the former British colony reached their 21st week on Sunday, with black-clad protesters setting fire to shops and throwing petrol bombs at police, who responded with tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets.
Protesters have repeatedly set fire to storefronts and businesses, including banks, especially those owned by Chinese mainland companies.
Authorities announced measures to support SMEs and Chan said the measures could only "slightly reduce pressure".
"Let citizens return to their normal lives, let industry and trade function normally, and let us create more space for rational dialogue," he wrote.
Protesters are angry at what they see as increasing interference by Beijing in Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under the "one country, two systems" formula, which aims to ensure the freedoms the mainland does not enjoy. China denies meddling and accuses foreign governments, including the United States, of stirring up trouble.