HONG KONG — Top business leaders in Asia’s financial hub are sounding a bit like environmental activists these days, taking a stand against the persistently unhealthy levels of air pollution gripping this city.
“I ran a half-marathon recently, and I was coughing,” William Fung, managing director of one of Hong Kong’s largest firms, the giant trading company Li & Fung.
“Hong Kong has to do as much as it can to clean up the local environment,” he said at its earnings news conference last week. So far, he added, the government has been “too timid on almost every move they have made.”
Mr. Fung’s remarks reflected a growing frustration here with the perpetually poor air quality and the commercial implications for a city that prides itself on being one of Asia’s most forward-looking centers of international finance.
Mr. Fung made his comments two days after pollution levels had streaked past the upper 500-point end of a government index, more than doubling the previous record of 202, set in 2008. The authorities warned people to avoid outdoor activities, and many schools canceled sports activities.
Pollution levels have since subsided. On Wednesday, the index registered about 60, although even that is classified as high. The levels of March 22, however, thrust the issue into the public eye at home and abroad, and raised pressure on the authorities to do more to contain homegrown pollution.