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What’s getting in the way of Hong Kong’s reputation as a global financial hub?

What’s getting in the way of Hong Kong’s reputation as a global financial hub?

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Hong Kong is a leading global financial hub, however in 2023, amidst geopolitical tensions, regulatory changes, and evolving media narratives, Hong Kong’s reputation has undergone significant scrutiny.

Despite having the most coverage in 2023 when compared to other financial hubs such as Singapore and Dubai, Hong Kong also had the highest proportion of negative coverage (7%), according to media intelligence firm CARMA's latest analysis of Hong Kong's reputation as a global financial hub in comparison to Singapore and Dubai.

The content was collected from 1 January to 31 December 2023 using a selected set of keywords and search queries, focusing on Global Tier-1 online media. 41,000 articles were analysed in total, featuring major mentions of each city.

Media coverage illustrated how China’s influence on Hong Kong had both a positive and negative impact on its economic indicators, such as talent competitiveness, GDP, and inflation. The influence of mainland China on Hong Kong's economic indicators was a focal point, said the report.

In contrast, however, China's tightening grip over Hong Kong tarnished its reputation as a stable and autonomous financial hub, said the report. The political unrest and the perceived erosion of freedoms not only impacted the city's international image but also resulted in a brain drain.

The reopening of borders with China reflected positive coverage for Hong Kong’s gross domestic product (GDP). These developments marked a key moment for Hong Kong, reinstating the flow of people, capital, and goods across borders. This was essential for the revival of sectors hit hard by the pandemic, such as retail, tourism, and professional services.

How Hong Kong’s coverage compared to Singapore and Dubai

Global Tier-1 media emphasised Hong Kong’s strong financial legacy hurdled by post-pandemic challenges. In 2023, Hong Kong’s reputation was strengthened with positive coverage surrounding its international competitiveness, global expansion efforts, regulatory evolution and diversity of its financial services.

However, with rising local interest rates and geopolitical tensions between China and the USA, the negative coverage surrounding Hong Kong in 2023 included themes such as Chinese influence, geopolitical tensions, political and social unrest, and concerns over data security, the report found. 

The coverage in the first two quarters of 2023 also reflects Hong Kong's push for more crypto trading, including the licensing of crypto exchanges Huobi and OKX, the approval of the first retail crypto exchange and the legal recognition of cryptocurrency as property. 

However, coverage of the JPEX crypto scandal in Hong Kong in Q3 2023 triggered a backlash against Hong Kong celebrities who previously endorsed the brand, which, to some extent, shook the city's financial reputation. 

In comparison, unfavourable content accounted for a mere 2% of Singapore's media coverage, with numerous analytical articles providing nuanced perspectives on the potential obstacles confronting the city-state, such as real estate market pressures and sluggish trading volumes.

In terms of crypto push, the country displayed renewed commitment to being at the forefront of digital finance in Q3 2023, evidenced by the issuance of new licenses to crypto firms such as Blockchain.com, and the establishment of Crypto.com's first global innovation lab that focuses on blockchain technology, Web3 and artificial intelligence in Singapore. 

Lastly, despite their relatively low coverage volumes, Dubai enjoys very positive coverage, and has a statistically negligible volume of negative coverage in top-tier media outlets. Several balanced news pieces explored potential difficulties the Emirate may encounter. This includes stringent cryptocurrency regulations and money laundering challenges.

There was also a spike of ESG investing news surrounding Dubai in Q4, which can be largely explained by the city playing host to COP28. Dubai’s Q4 coverage also revolved around UAE financial institutions committing to mobilise AED 1 trillion in sustainable finance by 2030, and the city’s new solar park that would contribute to its clean energy supply.

“Reputation directly impacts investor confidence, business attractiveness, and global competitiveness. A strong reputation can mitigate risks during economic downturns or geopolitical uncertainties by instilling trust and credibility among stakeholders," said Charles Cheung, CARMA's Hong Kong general manager. 

“The trajectory of a financial hub is shaped by broader geopolitical and economic forces. Media analysis serves as a vital tool in identifying both challenges and opportunities, pivotal to a city's reputation as a financial hub," added Divika Jethmal, head of marketing, Asia CARMA. 

Join us this coming 26 June for Content360 Hong Kong, a one-day-two-streams extravaganza under the theme of "Content that captivates". Get together with our fellow marketers to learn about AI in content creation, integration of content with commerce and cross-border targeting, and find the recipe for success within the content marketing world! 

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