One of the more distasteful sights in Hong Kong is the cringing, nodding grin of automatic agreement when Mainland officialdom spouts crap. Thus the South China Morning Post today dutifully plays along with a report that China’s National Development and Reform Commission will conjure into existence a global hub on a par with New York and London in Shanghai, focused on Yuan trading. By 2015 (or maybe 2012).
The NDRC is a hangover from Stalin-style central planning days. Real economic hubs grow organically over decades as market players gravitate together into self-generating clusters. Shanghai is a Potemkin financial centre in a jurisdiction with capital controls, corruption, censorship and a weird legal system. The Yuan is a chimera of a currency, not freely convertible but regarded by many overseas officials and media folk with some sort of inexplicable awe. Nowhere more so than in Hong Kong, where silliness like RMB-denominated gold ETFs is greeted seriously, and the prospect of being a (or the) ‘Yuan hub’ is seen as a lifeline free-lunch rent-seeking opportunity.
Meanwhile, Shanghai battles Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and elsewhere for symbolic and PR victories in its determination to be declared the one officially favoured financial centre. And all the time, the Communist Party, obsessed with maintaining its grip over an increasingly complex economy, has no intention of letting international markets (evil foreigners determined to prevent China’s rise) interfere with its currency. In all fairness to the SCMP, it is a slow news day. Without an unquestioning headline about the emperor surpassing ragged Hong Kong with his fine new clothes, the front page would be empty.
Some relief is in sight. Japan is going to announce names for islets, which is illegal and could lead to all sorts of interesting excitements. Failing that, we have this…
…the [Hong Kong] government needs to show in issues like property, transport and the environment that it is governing in the interest of Hong Kong residents, and not just an alliance of mainland and developer/commercial interests. Otherwise more protests like the [Dolce & Gabbana] uprising look inevitable. (Marketwatch)
Since governing in the interests of Hong Kong residents obviously isn’t going to happen…
I wonder, for all those who rushed to buy RMB, when the expected re-valuation of the RMB will kick in?
In 1996 a group of Hong Kong residents set off to demonstrate Chinese sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands. Failing to land on the islands in the face of the Japanese Naval presence, one David CHAN decided to throw himself into the sea to demonstrate that the waters belonged to China. A rope was tied around his waist, before he launched himself with great gusto into the sea … has the boat moved on Mr. CHAN was repeatedly submerged in the wake and he drowned. I recall this incident simply to point out that level heads and common sense are abandoned in any discussion about these Islands.
There must be some seriously good hooker bars and KTV on these islands for the Japs & Chinese blokes to be fighting over them.
Can I hire a Jaspers Junk to get there?
Of course you can create international finance hubs out of thin air. Just ask Dubai how well that’s worked out.
I love hubs. Can’t get enough of them.
@Rinky Dinky – fully agree!
Forget all the face whitening cream shops and sad designer stuff, what Hong Kong needs is to be recognised by the entire planet, and listed #1 in some obscure publication, as the global hub of hubs. Just think of the glory! Finance hub! Aviation hub! Hi-tech hub! Cruse liner hub! Eco-tourism hub! Chinese medicine hub! Laboratory testing hub! I’m becoming tumescent just thinking about it, and I’m not even a civil servant!
The Facial Hub is a project I’m happy to apply myself to.
So HK is a hub-hub.