A Senior Official of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government said Saturday that stopping violence and restoring order are crucial to the recovery of Hong Kong Economy.

Stopping violence is the first priority, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung said at a forum. “If the society calms down as soon as possible, Hong Kong will be able to boost consumption, attract tourists, and rebuild its image to start again.”

Cheung’s remarks came in as Hong Kong braced for its first annual GDP decline since 2009.

The economy, already suffering from the lackluster global trade, started to worsen in an unprecedented pace in the third quarter of 2019 as escalating violent incidents disrupted business activity, scared off visitors and caused severe damage to public and private property.

The HKSAR government has cut its gross domestic product forecast for 2019 to a negative 1.3 percent.

Cheung said that Hong Kong still boasts sound basic conditions, including fiscal reserves and professional services, and remains in a high position in international rankings.

However, he said such conditions will not remain forever.

“If the violence continues, economic activities will be further battered and even Hong Kong’s international status will be weakened,” Cheung said, warning that the jobless rate may rise more rapidly.

The Official called for joint efforts from various sectors to say no to violence and support the HKSAR Government in bringing the social unrest to an end in the new year.

In the face of a complicated global situation, Hong Kong’s unique advantage is the backing of the Country, Cheung said, also urging efforts to tap the Opportunities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt & Road Initiative.