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As Hong Kong seethes with protests against China’s rule, Beijing is increasingly pressuring the business world to take its side. Businesses, both global and local, are falling in line — and their employees are caught in the crossfire.
隨著香港深陷反對中國統治的抗議活動,北京正日益向企業界施壓,要求它們站在自己一邊。無論是全球企業還是本地企業都在恪守規定,它們的員工則陷入紛爭之中。
The most dramatic example came on Friday, when Rupert Hogg, the chief executive of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways, resigned in the face of Chinese pressure after some of the airline’s workers participated in the demonstrations.
最富戲劇性的例子發生在週五,國泰航空的行政總裁何杲(Rupert Hogg)因面臨中國的壓力辭職,此前該航司部分員工參與了示威活動
Now, global accounting firms are coming under the same pressure.
現在,全球會計事務所也面臨同樣的壓力。
廣告
The Big Four firms — PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young, now known as EY — put out statements distancing themselves from a full-page ad supporting the demonstrations that appeared in Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper on Friday. The ad was signed and paid for by a group of anonymous employees of the firms.
「四大」——普華永道(PwC)、德勤(Deloitte)、畢馬威(KPMG)、安永(Ernst & Young)——發表聲明,與週五香港《蘋果日報》上支持示威活動的整版廣告劃清界限。這則廣告由幾家公司的一群員工匿名簽署並支付。
“We will never fear or compromise with injustice and unfairness,” the text of the ad read. In response, PwC declared that the ad “does not represent the firm’s position,” adding, “We firmly oppose any action and statement that challenge national sovereignty.”
「面對荒謬與不公,我們從不畏懼,亦絕不退讓,」廣告寫道。作為回應,普華永道宣稱,該廣告「並不代表本公司的立場」,並表示「我們堅決反對任何損害國家主權的行為」。
It is not clear whether the companies’ statements will be enough. The Global Times, a tabloid controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, has urged the firms to “fire employees found to have the wrong stance on the Hong Kong situation.” Mainland Chinese internet users have warned them against “becoming the next Cathay Pacific.”
尚不清楚這些公司的聲明是否足矣。中共控制的小報《環球時報》敦促幾家公司「辭退被發現在香港局勢上採取錯誤立場的員工」。中國大陸網民也警告它們不要「成為下一個國泰航空」。
David Webb, the publisher of the financial and corporate governance website Webb-site in Hong Kong, said Mr. Hogg’s resignation was “shocking and shameful,” adding that “it’s an illustration of the influence that can be brought to bear by the mainland government on Hong Kong businesses.”
金融及公司治理網站Webb-site的出版人戴維·韋布(David Webb)說,何杲的辭職「令人震驚和可恥」,並稱「這是內地政府可以對香港企業施加影響的一個例證」。
“I think it would have all the C.E.O.s of the major companies looking over their shoulder and wondering whether they will be next to be held accountable for the actions of their employees,” he said.
「我認為它會讓所有的CEO都小心提防,不知道自己會不會成為下一個為員工行為負責的人,」他說。
For Hong Kong’s workers and businesses, that means growing tensions in the workplace, a perhaps familiar feeling in places like Google and Amazon where workers have used social media and other platforms to take a more activist stance.
對香港的員工和企業而言,這意味著工作場所的緊張形勢不斷加劇,這或許是一種似曾相識的感覺,在谷歌和亞馬遜等公司,員工們利用社群媒體和其他平台採取更積極的立場。
廣告
Joseph Lai, a 46-year-old employee of a Chinese manufacturer who marched in Hong Kong’s mass demonstration on Sunday, said he no longer tries to make his mainland colleagues understand why people in Hong Kong are unhappy. But he said he was not worried about what might happen if his bosses found out that he was taking to the streets.
現年46歲的約瑟夫·賴(Joseph Lai,音)是一家中國製造商的員工,參加了香港週日的大規模示威活動,他說自己不再嘗試讓內地同事理解香港人因何不滿。但他表示,他不擔心如果老闆發現他上街遊行會發生什麼。
“In that case, I’ll look for another job,” he said. “If we don’t come, how can we say we’re Hong Kong people?”
「要是那樣,我會再找份工作,」他說。「要是我們不來,怎麼能說自己是香港人呢」?
China’s biggest threat is also its greatest promise: a vast market of 1.4 billion people and an economy that, while slowing, is still growing at a pace that most countries would envy. For global companies like Cathay, lack of access could be devastating.
中國最大的威脅也是其最大的承諾:14億人口的巨大市場和一個雖在放緩,但增長速度仍令多數國家艷羨的經濟體。對國泰這樣的全球性公司而言,不許進入這個市場的後果可能不堪設想。
Earlier this month, the Chinese authorities forbade Cathay employees who participated in protests from doing any work involving flights to mainland China and demanded to see lists of workers who fly in or over its territory. The mainland accounts for nearly a quarter of Cathay’s destinations. Still more of its flights go over Chinese airspace, which would mean expensive rerouting if it did not comply.
本月早些時候,中國當局禁止參與抗議的國泰員工從事任何前往中國大陸航班相關工作,並要求查看飛入或飛經其領空的員工名單。內地佔國泰航空目的地的近四分之一。此外,還有更多航班飛經中國領空,如不遵守規定,可能意味著要花大代價改道。
Its main shareholder, Swire Pacific, is one of Asia’s largest conglomerates, with extensive interests in China including property, beverages and trading. Air China, a state-run airline, also holds a significant Cathay stake.
其最大的股東太古集團(Swire Pacific)是亞洲最大的企業集團之一,在中國擁有廣泛的利益,包括房產、飲品和貿易等領域。中國國有的中國國際航空也持有國泰相當大的股份。
China wields tremendous economic power over Hong Kong. It accounts for half of the territory’s trade, according to government statistics, as Chinese exporters take advantage of its traditionally low barriers to other countries. China provides about a quarter of all foreign investment in Hong Kong directly, and probably much more when money that flows through tax havens like the British Virgin Islands is counted. The mainland supplies more than a quarter of Hong Kong’s electricity and most of its drinking water. More than three quarters of its tourists come from the mainland.
中國對香港擁有巨大的經濟影響力。根據政府統計數據,由於中國出口商利用這裡對其他國家一向較低的貿易壁壘,它佔香港貿易的一半。在香港的所有外國直接投資中,約有四分之一來自中國內地,如果算上從英屬維爾京群島(British Virgin Islands)等避稅天堂流入的資金,這一比例可能還要高得多。香港四分之一以上的電力大部分飲用水都來自內地。超過四分之三的遊客來自中國大陸。
香港機場國泰航空的班機。對國泰這樣的公司而言,不能進入中國大陸市場的後果可能不堪設想。
香港機場國泰航空的班機。對國泰這樣的公司而言,不能進入中國大陸市場的後果可能不堪設想。 Vincent Thian/Associated Press
On the other hand, Hong Kong’s importance to China has dwindled, but Beijing still needs it as a financial hub. Most foreign investment into China flows through the territory. Mainland Chinese companies also raise money through Hong Kong, where global investors have put $2.6 trillion in Chinese company stocks.
另一方面,香港對中國的重要性已經下降,但北京仍需要它作為一個金融中心。多數進入中國的外國投資都通過香港進行。中國內地企業也通過香港融資,全球投資者在香港投資了2.6萬億美元的中國企業股票
Beijing has warned that the protests threaten Hong Kong’s future prosperity. On Sunday, it said it approved a plan to further open up the economy of Shenzhen, a booming city just across the border from Hong Kong, suggesting that it wants to increase competition between the two cities.
北京警告,抗議活動威脅到香港未來的繁榮。週日,北京表示批准了一項進一步開放深圳經濟的計劃,深圳是毗鄰香港的一個蓬勃發展的城市,這表明它希望加強深港之間的競爭。
廣告
For years, businesses in Hong Kong have been able to prosper by staying out of politics. But under China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, the Communist Party has amassed more power and intruded into more parts of Chinese life, including business. It has also taken an increased interest in Hong Kong affairs since protests in 2014, known as Occupy Central, that also challenged China’s policies toward the territory.
多年來,香港的企業通過遠離政治而繁榮起來。但在中國現任領導人習近平的統治下,共產黨積聚了更多的權力,侵入中國人生活的更多領域,包括商業領域。自2014年被稱為「佔領中環」的抗議活動挑戰了中國對香港的政策以來,中國政府對香港事務的興趣越來越濃厚。
Mainland Chinese consumers and businesses, often egged on by state media that criticizes any foreign business that does not appear to show the country proper respect, have also emerged as forces in their own right. The result has been a near-daily campaign to prod companies like Versace, Coach and Givenchy to apologize to China for implying in their products and websites that Hong Kong was a separate country.
中國大陸的消費者和企業也憑藉自己的條件而崛起,他們經常受到中國官方媒體煽動,批評外國企業似乎沒有對中國表現出應有的尊重。結果是一場近乎每天不斷的運動,逼迫凡賽斯(Versace)、蔻馳(Coach)和紀梵希(Givenchy)等公司向中國道歉,因為它們的產品和網站暗示香港是一個獨立的國家。
On Weibo, the Chinese social media platform, mainland Chinese internet users started a #BoycottCathayPacific hashtag, which was viewed half a million times. Analysts at the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China put a “strong sell” rating on the stock because of what it called “poor crisis management.”
在中國社群媒體平台新浪微博上,大陸網民發起了一個名為「#抵制國泰航空」的話題標籤,點擊量達50萬次。國有的中國工商銀行的分析師將國泰航空的股票評級定為「強烈賣出」,原因是其所謂的「危機管理不善」。
On the other hand, companies risk going too far in placating China. When the actress Liu Yifei last week publicly supported the Hong Kong police, protesters called for a boycott of “Mulan,” the live-action Disney film set to be released next year in which she will play the title character.
另一方面,企業在安撫中國方面做得太過火也有風險。演員劉亦菲上週公開支持香港警方時,抗議者呼籲抵制迪士尼真人電影《花木蘭》(Mulan)。這部電影將於明年上映,劉亦菲將在片中飾演木蘭。
While Cathay has been the most visible example of pressure on Hong Kong business, it was by no means the first.
儘管國泰航空是香港企業面臨壓力的最明顯例子,但它絕不是第一家。
多年來,香港的企業一直能通過遠離政治而繁榮發展。
多年來,香港的企業一直能通過遠離政治而繁榮發展。 Jerome Favre/EPA, via Shutterstock
In early July, the maker of Pocari Sweat, a Japanese sports drink popular in Hong Kong, pulled its advertising from TVB, Hong Kong’s dominant broadcaster, which has been accused by protesters of having a pro-Beijing bias. But it said in two subsequent statements that it upheld the “one country, two systems” principle.
7月初,在香港很受歡迎的日本運動飲料寶礦力水特(Pocari Sweat)的製造商從香港主要的電視公司、被抗議者指責親北京的TVB撤下了廣告。但在隨後的兩份聲明中,寶礦力水特表示堅持「一國兩制」原則。
Last week, the property tycoon Peter Woo, the former chairman of the real estate company Wheelock and its subsidiary Wharf Holdings, criticized protests that had turned violent. His comments came after Hu Xijin, the editor in chief of the Global Times, attacked one of Mr. Woo’s shopping malls for “kowtowing” to the protesters by allowing them to remove the Chinese flag from a flagpole and throw it into the sea. Mr. Hu also criticized the mall for barring the police to avoid the sort of clashes that have taken place at other shopping centers.
上週,房地產大亨、房地產公司會德豐(Wheelock)及其子公司九龍倉集團(Wharf Holdings)前董事長吳光正批評抗議活動已經演變為暴力。此前,《環球時報》總編輯胡錫進攻擊吳光正旗下的一家購物中心,稱其允許抗議者將旗杆上的中國國旗取下並扔進大海,是在向抗議者「磕頭」。胡錫進還批評這家購物中心為避免其他購物中心發生的那些衝突,就禁止警察進入。
廣告
The pressure on the Big Four accounting firms illustrates how global companies can become targets, too.
四大會計師事務所面臨的壓力說明跨國公司也可以成為目標。
The employees’ ad that ran in the Apple Daily newspaper on Friday resulted from a crowdfunding effort that raised $9,873 from 264 people, according to the crowdfunding website GoGetFunding. It inflamed many mainland Chinese nationalists online who were already angry at PwC for what they saw as an initial weak response to the protests. An article on Aug. 5 in the Global Times quoted the company as saying it respects the “people’s right to freedom of speech.” The newspaper called it “fence sitting.”
據眾籌網站GoGetFunding的數據,上週五在《蘋果日報》上刊登的員工廣告是從264人那裡籌集9873美元的結果。這激怒了許多中國大陸民族主義者,在網上,他們對普華永道感到憤怒,認為它對抗議活動的最初反應軟弱無力。《環球時報》8月5日的一篇文章援引該公司的話說,它尊重「公民享有言論自由的權利」。報紙稱其為「騎牆」。
This was not the first time that the employees of the Big Four accounting firms have broken ranks with their bosses. In 2014, during the Occupy Central protests, the companies published an ad saying the protests would harm Hong Kong’s status as a financial center. The employees responded with another ad in the Apple Daily that said, “Hey boss, your statement doesn’t represent us.”
這並不是四大會計師事務所的員工第一次與老闆分道揚鑣。2014年,在「佔中」抗議期間,這些公司發布了一則廣告,稱抗議活動將損害香港作為金融中心的地位。員工們在《蘋果日報》上發布廣告回應:「嘿,老闆,你的聲明並不代表我們。」
香港備受歡迎的日本運動飲料寶礦力水特的製造商也曾陷入北京和香港示威者之間的衝突。
香港備受歡迎的日本運動飲料寶礦力水特的製造商也曾陷入北京和香港示威者之間的衝突。 Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times
For any company, restraining employees from speaking out can be tough. But in Hong Kong, it could become a necessity.
對任何公司來說,限制員工暢所欲言都很困難。但在香港,這可能成為一種必需。
“For any of these organizations, it is necessary for them, within the framework of the law, to constrain or to require their employees not to touch the bottom line of the law,” said Wang Jun, chief economist at Zhongyuan Bank, a commercial bank based in central China. “I think that is very important.”
「我覺得非常重要的一點是,任何的機構都有必要在法律的框架內,約束自己的員工不要觸碰法律的底線,」位於中國中部的商業銀行中原銀行首席經濟學家王軍表示。