Hong Kong – November 2019

Notes that I used for talking about Hong Kong November 7, 2019

  • Big fan of Hong Kong — place with special vibe 
    • In and out since 1978; Consul General at Handover.
  • Finance Secretary once said to me:  No one ever made money betting against Hong Kong.
  • Believe in the people of Hong Kong – dynamic, creative, energetic people at all income levels.
  • At the Handover, Washington and US media feared a repeat of Tiananmen
    • At the Consulate we said:  No, more subtle, watch over time.
  • Second outbreak of demonstrations in five years; time to assess positive and negative trends.
    • Democracy –and promises of Universal suffrage– constrained.
    • Judiciary still solid, but abductions and pressures are disconcerting.
      • Worry about pressure from the 4rth Plenum for a tougher national security law.
    • Financial and regulatory systems remain intact.
      • Worries about corporate behaviors seeping in from mainland.
    • Prospects for young people growing more severely constrained.
      • Competition from mainlanders.
      • Education system not improving fast enough.
      • No prospects for buying their own apartments.
      • Understand: feel their future prospects more difficult.
  • Will require more than public housing programs.
    • Need to open up government and give people more of a voice.
  • Beijing clearly wants Chief Executive Carrie Lam to “fix” the problem of violence.  
    • President Xi met with her earlier this week.  
      • Beijing largely restrained:  No Tiananmen – no tanks or invasion. 
    • Yet, won’t let her make the compromises necessary to settle the issues:
      • Independent investigation.
      • Amnesty.
      • More open consultations and open up election system.
  • So, unlikely to see a short term resolution.
  • Over time, repression might work, demonstrators may get tired, 
    • but still must solve underlying problems.
    • What do you think Hong Kong can do to restore stability?