Financial secretary Paul Chan meets Bank of England governor and other top figures in London, despite frosty Hong Kong-UK relations

Hong Kong’s financial secretary has met the governor of Britain’s central bank in London to exchange views on interest rates, inflation and other financial topics, despite a political falling out.

Paul Chan Mo-po was in the UK capital on Friday and met Andrew Bailey, the head of the Bank of England, as well as political and business leaders, as part of a European tour in which he has already visited France.

Chan’s office said the two discussed interest rates, inflation trends, global economic prospects and other subjects of mutual concern such as financial regulation.

The meeting was held a day after the UK central bank decided to keep interest rates unchanged at 5.25 per cent, based on lower-than-expected inflation.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan (front right) at a meeting with the CityUK Leadership Council, an industry-led body representing UK-based financial services, as part of trade trip to London. Photo: Handout

The last time the bank’s monetary policy committee voted to leave interest rates unchanged was in November 2021.

The United States’ Federal Reserve has also maintained its interest rate range at 5.25-5.5 per cent.

Chan first led a 130-strong delegation to Paris as part of the 10-day trip to Europe, the biggest trade tour since the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Some of the group spent three days in Paris before they travelled to London on Wednesday.

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They are expected to depart on Saturday for the German capital of Berlin and the country’s financial powerhouse Frankfurt.

The London visit came against a backdrop of heightened Hong Kong-UK political tension.

The British government just three days ago said Hong Kong’s legal system was at a critical juncture because of the Beijing-imposed national security law and that civil rights were “under significant pressure”.

The Hong Kong government dismissed the British views, contained in its six-monthly report on the city.

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Chan told 120 guests in London, drawn from politics and business, that Hong Kong maintained its unique status, the common law system and the rule of law under the “one country, two systems” governing principle.

“I continue to be optimistic about Hong Kong’s future,” he said. “Hong Kong’s future will be built on innovation and technology and that means working closely with the Greater Bay Area.”

He said Hong Kong was a gateway and service platform for European companies to explore the Greater Bay Area, an IT-led economic giant that combined Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong, which together have a population of 86 million.

Chan said he welcomed British investment, companies and talent to Hong Kong, but said he also wanted to promote opportunities linked to the city’s mega projects, such as the creation of three artificial islands off Lantau to boost the housing supply.


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