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
Of course if you believe some of what you
read you might think that people would be reluctant to say anything, fearing
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 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
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
Given Hong Kong's position as a
major financial market it is first appropriate to take its temperature
from reading the 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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.