July 5, 2020 – Ming Pao Interview — Sad days for Hong Kong

Ming Pao published on July 5 some additional questions and answers with me on Hong Kong. See the Chinese articles here and here. The full text in English is here.

TL-DR: All my life, I’ve been bullish on Hong Kong, even at critical moments like the Handover.  No more.  I’m afraid that, over time, the city so many of us love will lose its energy and its lustre. 

China imposing national security law on Hong Kong

Ming Pao in Hong Kong asked me for some answers about China’s latest move to stifle dissent in Hong Kong. I wrote up some answers here that they used (in Chinese) on the front page here and here.

The gist: While Chinese leaders seem determined to impose this law, they are provoking a strong and widespread reaction in other countries.

China under Xi Jinping has gone backwards from reform, emphasizing instead tighter control by security services, more party control in media and the economy, and more favoritism for cumbersome state enterprises.

The political consensus in the United States is solid and increasingly shared by the US business community which often sees Chinese entities as unfair competitors who benefit from closed markets, government subsidies and stolen intellectual property. China has few if any defenders in US debates and any concerns about Hong Kong are easily overshadowed.

There are strong feelings across the political spectrum in the United States that China under Xi Jinping cannot be allowed to assert its will and must abide by international rules in the South China Sea, with regards to Taiwan, with regards to Hong Kong, with respect to human rights, in business rules and any number of other areas. This sentiment has grown stronger throughout the world, not just in the United States.

The response in the US has become more determined and the prospect of international coordination on steps against China is growing –should the United States decide to take the lead.

Unfortunately, the response to China will create a political contest with scant regard for Hong Kong itself or for US business interests in Hong Kong.