Cathay’s Parent Backs Carrie Lam as Hong Kong Protests Rage

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Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.’s parent company said it “resolutely” supports the efforts of Hong Kong’s government and police to restore law and order, after protests in the city turned violent and hurt the airline’s business.

The political unrest undermines the fundamental principle of “One Country, Two Systems” enshrined in Hong Kong’s Basic Law, Swire Pacific Ltd., which controls Cathay with a 45% stake, said in a statement Tuesday.

“All that is special about Hong Kong — its flourishing economy and the safe home it provides for our people and families — rests on a strong and respected rule of law,” Swire Pacific said in the statement. “We must act now to stop the violence and preserve the stability.”

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The statement comes days after Cathay drew China’s wrath over some of the flag carrier’s workers joining the anti-Beijing demonstrations, which have spiraled since initially being sparked by opposition to an extradition bill more than two months ago. Swire Chairman Merlin Swire met with China’s aviation regulators in Beijing on Monday.

Cathay is facing a swathe of demands from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, including a ban on flight crew that took part in the demonstrations from flying to the mainland. The airline suspended two pilots and has separately fired two ground staffers for misuse of company information. Swire, one of the city’s oldest trading houses, also said it supports Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

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The demonstrations have deterred tourists, disrupted commutes and even shut down the airport, Asia’s busiest hub for international passenger traffic, on Monday and Tuesday. Shares of Cathay have tumbled to a decade-low, while those of Swire Pacific have plunged to their lowest level since February 2018.

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