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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 20 No. 28
Tuesday July 20, 2021
Don't Count Out Hong Kong

Bob Rogers     For some time now quite a rather large cross section of the world’s media has bemoaned loss of freedoms in Hong Kong in what is often described today as a Mainland China-controlled city.
     So with Hong Kong as the air cargo driver that it is in the world today, with the busiest air cargo enterprise anywhere, we thought it might be good to talk to someone on the ground who is also a well-known and respected air cargo specialist, someone who lives and work there.
     Of course if you believe some of what you read you might think that people would be reluctant to say anything, fearing the CCP.
     But Bob Rogers, (right) who heads up ULD CARE and by choice, lives in Hong Kong has never been reluctant to tell it like it is.
     Here Bob Rogers lays the current scene in Hong Kong on the line:

Hong Kong Today

Hong Kong One Year Later

     Sitting here on the morning of June 30, 2021 it is interesting to reflect on the events exactly 365 days ago when Hong Kong was on the eve of the enactment of the new National Security Law.”

Impending Gloom & Doom

     The airwaves were filled with condemnations from politicians in America, UK, Europe and Australia condemning the enactment of national security laws that were in reality no different from those in their countries and offering sanctuary for the hundreds of thousands if not millions who they presumed would want to flee Hong Kong.
     And the headlines in the western media were chockablock full of forecasts of the end of Hong Kong, of mass migration, a crashing stock market, a plummeting property market, a wipeout of the Hong Kong dollar peg, massive outflows of capital, In short the end of Hong Kong as we know it.

The Reality Check

     So here we are 365 days later and it is interesting to see just how many of these fevered projections have actually happened.
     Given Hong Kong's position as a major financial market it is first appropriate to take its temperature from reading the financial markets.

Financial Markets

     Currently the Hang Seng index up almost exactly 20% since this time a year ago.
     Of course detractors will claim that many markets around the world have risen by similar or even greater amounts but the point is that the Hong Kong market was supposed to collapse due to the enactment of the NSA, it hasn’t happened.

Alibaba Center Hong Kong Airport
     In the picture is the new fulfilment center being built for Alibaba, in the cargo area of Hong Kong Airport.
     How big is that airport cargo building?
     Do the words absolutely enormous tell the tale?
     But seriously, this kind of construction is 'money on the table' indication of the kind of optimism that is always so prevalent in Hong Kong.
     Elsewhere at the gateway, that long hoped for third runway is just about ready to go into service whilst massive new construction around the runway includes a whole new passenger terminal about the same size as the original one, plus new hotels and shopping centers.
     In other words in the 'believe what I say but verify what I do' world of 2021, anyone wishing to count out Hong Kong might think again.

Investments During 2021

     Over HK$400 billion in new listings raised last year and HK$183 billion in the first 6 months of 2021, hardly a sign of lack of confidence in Hong Kong's future when this much money is flowing into our stock market.

The Hong Kong Dollar

     The Hong Kong Dollar remains as stable as ever, at its nominal 7.75, actually the only deviation was upwards in early 2021 when it exceeded 7.78. d. HK’s financial reserves remain as robust as ever.
      On July 9th 2021 Bloomberg reported that the U.S. hedge fund trader Kyle Bass “reckoned that its days are over,” and made huge bets against the HKD. Not sure which tea leaves he was reading, but clearly not the right ones, it hasn’t happened, and it looks like his investors will loose their money 6 months from now.

Real Estate Is Booming

     Last but absolutely not least, the property market is booming. Property has always been a measure of HK’s financial health, and the numbers for the first half of 2021 show a 24-year high of HK$468 billion. And keep in mind that non holders of HK Permanent ID cards, achieved after 7 years continuous residency pay a double stamp duty, so this is not a rush of mainland money.
     All five of the above metrics go to show that despite the claims of many governments that the NSL was the end of Hong Kong and despite the breathless commentary in the press that hundreds of thousands if not millions would flee the tyranny of Hong Kong, actually the opposite has happened, Hong Kong continues to thrive.

About Law & Order

     We have seen the return of law and order to the streets of Hong Kong.
     Fire bombs, destruction of MTR stations, attacks on anybody perceived to be pro Beijing, these are a thing of the past.
     Cases have been going through the courts, indeed the first NSC case is currently in court, with a variety of outcomes, some of the accused have been found not guilty, many have pled guilty and are now serving their sentences in Hong Kong prisons.
     Despite the widespread expectations of the foreign politicians and media that large numbers of people would be swept up under the NSA and shipped off to China never to be heard of again the actual number of people detained under the NSA is slightly over 100 or 0.00125% of the HK population.

The Legal Process

     Furthermore all arrested and charged under the NSA remain firmly in Hong Kong and will go through the HK legal process.
     The 12 “ bail runners” who tried to get to Taiwan by speedboat but mistakenly entered PRC waters and got arrested for illegal entry into PRC (cue all sorts of press hysteria) served their 8 months sentence in Yantian for illegal entry and, bar the two organiaers who received longer sentences, returned to HK to face not only their original charges but also the new charge of breaking their bail conditions.

Migration To The United Kingdom

     And of course there are a number of people who are choosing to take advantage of the very generous immigration offers made by the UK, Canada and Australia to those wishing to leave Hong Kong. This is exactly the same that happened in the run-up to 1997, many Hong Kongers believing that the grass is always greener on the other side decided to move to these countries in order to seek another passport but strangely in the intervening years a large number of them have come back to Hong Kong after finding the grass was not quite as green as they were led to believe.      Furthermore in the UK the government found to their disappointment that instead of droves of wealthy Hong Kongers bringing their money with them, the opposite turned out to be true and they have had to agree to provide social benefits for these new immigrants.

Freedoms Challenged?

     Freedom of assembly and freedom of speech and the press are always headline matters.
     After giving approval for around 100 protest marches during 2019/2020, most of which degenerated into riots, such events are no longer being given approval on the basis of the super strict anti-Covid public gathering regulations.
     There is every expectation that once this passes, protest marches will be allowed but of course without any of the extreme violence that occurred during the riots.

Closing of Apple Daily

     And as for freedom of expression and of the press, while the recent closure of Apple Daily made headlines around the world, and even comments from Biden, this disregards the fact that Jimmy Lai and a number of his employees at Apple Daily had weaponized the newspaper at the bidding of various foreign governments.
     The various cases against Mr. Lai and others will come to court during 2021/2 and no doubt be keenly followed, we can of course expect the usual knee-jerk reactions from the likes of Chris Patten and Dominic Raab.

Free Access To Internet & Newspapers

     Meanwhile there is completely free access to the Internet, foreign newspapers are available on the streets or online and there are more than a few publications prepared to be critical of the government and indeed of Beijing.
     What is clearly not allowed is colluding with foreign governments, something that is a serious impediment to the U.S. in its efforts to meddle in China through Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Legislative System

     Created in 1997, after the handover, the system has struggled to provide effective governance for Hong Kong in the subsequent 24 years leading to an almost complete breakdown of any legislative process in 2020.
     Having sat on the sidelines for many years watching this experiment in democracy on Chinese soil Beijing has decided enough is enough, the basic requirements of any member of Legco to be a patriot of Hong Kong is now made very clear but then again what other country would allow that its legislature was packed with individuals whose single ambition was to bring down the government as was the case with the Pan Democrats.

About The Pan Democrats

     The saddest thing is that had the Pan Dems been prepared to exercise a little patience back in the early 2000’s they would've actually got the universal suffrage they wanted by now but instead by pursuing a policy of obstruction they managed to lose everything they hoped for. Of course none of this stops the usual click-chasing journalists, trying to make headlines out of anything and everything that might portray the end of Hong Kong. This is to be expected and no doubt will continue along for a while as they desperately trying to prop up their narrative and those of their masters in the governments of America, Canada, the UK, Australia etc. It would be very tough for them to have to admit that perhaps they got it wrong.

Peace & Stability

     And meantime the Hong Kong government is focused on the basic functions of providing a stable society for its citizens to make the most of, backed by strong, debt-free government finances, and the huge opportunities that exist through the creation of the 70 million strong Greater Bay Area, expected to become one of the world’s leading economic power houses. No doubt others want to keep forecasting the end of Hong Kong, books in that theme have been appearing for many, many years.
     Good luck to them.
Bob Rogers

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