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Strict travel restrictions and Xi Jinping's national security law are forcing overseas bankers out of Hong Kong in droves.   © Illustration by Takahiro Suganuma
The Big Story

So long, Hong Kong: Asia's business hub loses its luster

City's rigid quarantine rules appease mainland but risk alienating foreign bankers

PAK YIU, Nikkei staff writer | Hong Kong

HONG KONG -- This year, like every year, Hong Kong's banking circles have been peppered with farewells for senior executives. The glittering bars of Lockhart Road and Lan Kwai Fong have seen many bottles of Champagne uncorked, tearful speeches delivered and group selfies taken in a natural cycle of change that starts toward the end of each calendar year as senior rainmakers depart for London, New York, Tokyo or Frankfurt. This year, however, few replacements are flying in.

Most of the banks whose headquarters dot the waterfront of Victoria Harbour have seen a steady erosion of those in the top positions as their functions are transferred elsewhere. The banks insist they are not moving their operations, but headhunters say the hollowing out of key personnel on many desks is being camouflaged by an expansion in wealth management functions tailored to mainland Chinese.

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