Shenzhen wants HK financial hub in its docks, again

The body is still warm – still breathing, indeed – but the historical revisionism has already begun. China Daily reports that Chief Executive Donald Tsang believes he did a wonderful job, and adds that this is surely so, thanks of course to Beijing’s assistance in developing Hong Kong as a Renminbi blah-blah hub. Despite having to abandon his earlier arrangement with a property tycoon’s luxury apartment over the border, Sir Bow-Tie is, I am reliably informed, still determined to retire to Shenzhen, where he can expect this sort of glowing coverage whenever he wants it.

Several years ago, officials in Shenzhen drew a small box on a map of the Western part of their city and proclaimed that it would be an international financial global mega-hub zone. Hong Kong officials, in their usual pathetic desperation to give Mainland counterparts face, traipsed up there to sign meaningless agreements on cooperation and partnership. Then, more recently, Beijing essentially told the uppity Shenzhen cadres that they weren’t going to be getting any special privileges on foreign exchange or tax, so they should just forget the mega-hub zone scheme and go back to churning out fake Hello Kitty phones. And we assumed that was that.

But no. It’s back. We can assume that this has nothing to do with Donald’s imminent relocation to Shenzhen, but quite a lot to do with the arrival in Government House of CY Leung in just over a week. The Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone has been given some sort of ‘national strategic importance’ classification. Among the ridiculous ideas being spouted by grasping Mainland officials and Hong Kong hangers-on:

  • Individual Mainland investors to be allowed to access Hong Kong securities markets via (of course) Qianhai (the old Tianjin ‘through train’ wall-of-money thing).
  • All Hong Kong’s banks and brokerages, plus the stock exchange, to set up branches in (you guessed it) Qianhai.
  • Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing to relocate its newly acquired London Metals Exchange to (yup) Qianhai.
  • Tons of blather about Yuan-denominated offshore/onshore sounds-like-money-laundering RMB hub zone blah-blah stuff, all taking place in (obviously) Qianhai.

Qianhai, for the record, is a patch of concrete-covered wasteland up the road from a container port. Whether CY Leung will rush up to Beijing and beg the national leadership to exempt the area from foreign exchange controls and other tools of economic control vital to a centrally planned, one-party state is unlikely. But maybe they think it’s worth a try.

For one thing, CY will be too busy sweating the small stuff. His proposed rearrangement of government furniture failed to continue its tortuous progress through the Legislative Council yesterday. The Standard describes lawmakers who should have been there to help him but weren’t as ‘pro-establishment’. Which they are – but as we see, that doesn’t mean pro-CY. Functional constituency representatives like Timothy Fok and David Li are yesterday’s men, but supporters of the Henry Tang old guard will remain on the scene for some time. Meanwhile, the pan-democrats (with a few exceptions) are too inept to see the obvious opportunity that CY’s alternative ‘establishment’ offers them.

CY is making it known that his priorities on taking office will be housing, housing, welfare and housing. A populist doesn’t need a Culture Bureau to do that, and he should just get on with it. What will his approval ratings be on the day he goes round to some impoverished family in a subdivided slum to help them pack their bags and move out?

That’s after he’s removed his illegal structure, of course. I knew he was human.

As the Hong Kong Tree Team trundles through my neighbourhood after hearing rumours that a large woody perennial exists in the area, I declare the weekend open – with a gasp of disbelief as I find some vile boorish oaf of a cad is daring to question the saintliness of handsome and virile Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Is there no end to this heresy?

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20 Responses to Shenzhen wants HK financial hub in its docks, again

  1. PropertyDeveloper says:

    If one wished to put this in a culturo-philosophical perspective, one might hazard that clear categories, divisions and boundaries ultimately derive from the European Enlightenment, and so do not necessarily transfer to other times and places.

    Put into local terms, this means that Leung’s add-on and the Qianhai add-on shouldn’t be looked at in terms of legal/illegal or part/not part of HK.

    Just as the thing on Leung’s house was small and temporary, transparent, wetted many times and ultimately not disapproved of by the government, so the Shenzhen loop, the part of Macau University that isn’t in Macau, the whole of the South “China” Sea, indigenous villagers’ gardens, localised foreign yuan and the various -hais are both here and not here, dotted-line grey areas designed simply to muddy the waters: now you see them, now you don’t.

  2. Bela Lugosi says:

    Let’s all shut up and make money.

    I am starting a Retirement Gift List for Donald…here is the first entry…a Polish Crucifix Radio:

    http://www.dezeen.com/2009/10/15/the-radio-by-kosmos-project/

    The designers describe the product as an “object of everyday use that becomes cult-like, showing great power of media, loneliness in the contemporary society and the need of belonging to a community.”

    Sounds perfect for Donald.

    Any more suggestions?

  3. maugrim says:

    Andrew Fung is a genuine talent who works hard at a grassroots (well, whatever that is for the middle class) whose animal farm like expulsion was more akin to being drummed out of the Brownies. The Dems are twits on a variety of levels.

    You didn’t mention Stephen Lam complaining to ‘teacha’ yesterday that K.H. Leung had called him by his nickname. Umbrdge followed along with him quoting the bible. Flipping heck.

  4. jing says:

    What are the chances that there are condom-vending machines in the bathrooms of the Equadorian embassy?

    Retirement gift for Donald: a musical concrete mixer.
    Tune: My Little Airport’s “Donald Tsang, please die”

  5. Walter De Havilland says:

    Bela,

    Perhaps we could buy Donald these for his new home

    http://www.boreme.com/posting.php?id=15394

  6. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Bela : I like the crucifix radio idea : especially the advert pics showing two ways to place it on your table – standing vertical and fallen over on one side . Sort of rather suitable for Donald Duck in his “before and after” phases, don’t you think ?

    On a more serious note – Hemmer’s last comment with the link to Jimmy Carr leads to some interesting other articles , principally the UK tax rate of 50% and UK tax avoidance schemes. Actually, I was talking to my father in the UK last night who retired on a pension of STG 110,000 / year , which was doubtless very generous when he retired 25 years ago ( but well deserved because he was CEO of one the UK’s biggest companies at that time) – but which sum is peanuts these days. Bu astonishingly he is still taxed at 50% on that pension so he only gets to keep STG55K/ year net.

    At least in HK my pension ( which I saved myself) is totally tax free ………. so we do do some things right in HK ( And YEAH ! boom boom – I can also get back my money from the MPF, which should be enough to buy couple of good bottles of wine ).

  7. smog says:

    @RTP – you clearly have a minimal understanding of tax and pension regimes!

    The reason pensions are taxed in the UK is that the contributions to the pension fund are taken from gross salary initially, and the view is that income should be taxed once (but only once). Moreover, on a pension of GBP110K the marginal rate (for last tax year) was 50%, but that’s only for part of the amount. The average tax rate would be something like 30-35%. And if he was on a defined benefits pension scheme (most common in years gone by) then the amount would almost certainly be index-linked in some way, so the pension amount would increase as well.

    And finally, it is ludicrous to say that GBP110,000 per year is “peanuts”. It’s a huge sum of money – still over 4 times the median household earnings.

    I presume that you must be a “banker” (of the “gambling with other people’s money whilst taking a huge slice in fees so that you can’t lose” type) in order to have such a distorted view of the world.

  8. Henry says:

    Smog/RTP

    a quick calculation shows that dad would have to pay 33K in tax….. about 30%. The 50% rate only kicks in on income over 150K, and he has no doubt various allowances he can claim.

    110K per annum compares very favourably to the standard state pension which is in the region of 6K per annum and which is the only income my 87 year old mum has (save a few quid I give her occasionally) Your dad is doing OK, I think.

  9. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Most of us always did think Leung was a bad ‘un, and now we’ve got the breathtaking proof. It will be interesting to see if RTP tries to defend the indefensible.

    A good piece by Alex Lo in today’s SCMP, putting forward the notion that Leung deliberately lied: “… Leung’s incompetence and dishonesty… discredited… even before he starts”.

  10. Kan says:

    I can’t believe I’m hearing chatter about some illegal structure CY is trying to hide from the media. Boo..hoo..Most of us have done worse and hong kong’s detached houses all have them.
    …and most won’t even care if you fine them. Who are these structures hurting anyways? CY, remove the structure, end of story. Given the childish and reactionary nature of HKers and the HK media who can probe into every nook and cranny of your private life, what do you expect. I would’ve done the same thing…it’s my illegal structure, my property, it’s not killing anyone, why should I come out and let you village idiots give me a grilling? HKers get what they ask for. If you throw a hissy fit and threaten to ditch your man over everything little thing, then your man won’t tell you the truth because you’re a f**king 5 year old. In reality, most men will call this woman a bitch and dump her in a heartbeat.

  11. Joe Blow says:

    If Henry could not rule because of an illegal structure and a cover up, then CY can’t either.

    Maybe the establishment can get their own man/woman into the top slot after all.

  12. Mary Hinge says:

    @ Kan: The big problem is not the illegal structures per se (although given that CY – a qualified building surveyor – had six of them, that is worse than you are trying to make it seem). No, the real problem is the lack of honesty and transparancy.

    CY watched Henry blame his wife and told us that his similarly basement-endowed home was squeaky clean. He won the election partly on that perceived disparity of integrity. But it seems he was lying too.

    CY also told the world during the pre-election TV debate that any allegations of him suggesting using tear gas against HK protestors was “not true.” Can we still believe this man?

  13. Kan says:

    @Mary Hinge: I think people are blowing this out of proportion thanks to the media. I don’t think CY owes the public the truth at all. It’s his own property, no clear public interest involved. He’s not even the CE yet..
    You have the right to be skeptical (if you weren’t already), but he’s certainly not to be faulted for not telling the truth in this case. The fact is, 99.9% of us would lie if we were in his shoes, it’s a rather extreme situation, so it really isn’t an accurate indicator of his credibility for me….of course we know that politicians are dishonest and so is everyone else to various degrees..but this time, it’s none of our business to begin with…with regards to government functions, he certain should be accountable for his honesty/transparency. I have yet to observe…

    CY was 20 points ahead of Henry the week before the illegal structure incident. It only knocked a few more points off. I don’t think that turned him into Beijing’s favored candidate…but it did help.
    I’m not sure what you can make of that tear gas allegation, since the context was unknown…..tear gas against a peaceful crowd or in a violent riot? The latter is just the norm whether CY mentioned it or not. I don’t think Henry’s accusation has any more credibility than CY’s denial….seeing both have lied ..
    Anyways, a few exco members spoke out for CY on that tear gas allegation…so it’s not just his word as Henry’s

  14. Wanchai Dreamer says:

    It’s the lies, the hypocrisy, the explanations that themselves insult the intelligence that really damn CY Leung to a point that nukes his integrity and puts him past any brain-dead, rambling special pleading.

    If Hemlock, on one of his wilder days, had dreamt up a story with a buildings professional not knowing how many floors the house he lived in had, where illegal structures are sneakily removed after winning the CE election on this very same question and after your predecessor had instructed his ministers to be squeaky clean in this respect, you’d have to ask where to get whatever he was on.

    And the delight of it is that it’s just beginning, with all three page 1 stories in the Post about high-level corruption/fraud. Even Leung’s pro-Peking friends are beginning to leave the sinking ship.

  15. Joe Blow says:

    Kan, you are wrong.

    If you want to be The Leader you have to be as pure as the driven snow.

    CY is the CEO-elect. With that position comes great responsibility.

    He has failed us: now he must go.

    By the way, I wonder how a guy in a 500 million-dollar house can ever be a ‘man of the people’.

  16. Kan says:

    I think HKers are becoming insane, believing that they live in some pure as snow, cliche ridden bubble unlike the rest of the world.
    Politicians can be pure as white driven snow?
    Who in reality believes that?…well, maybe before the HK media is become increasingly intrusive in recent years, before they dig into your past records, before they acquire photos from your ex, before they get blueprints to your house and find a misstep like an illegal structure which is like finding a 7-11 in HK and blow it out of proportion, firing a line of questions at you hoping you’d slip so they can run 2 weeks on the story.

    With an angry hostile reactionary population at the helm and an opposition and media who will examine every little thing like a homocide case, whoever the next CE will be, he’s gotta give in to alot of tycoons, opportunistic politicians, media, etc.. if he wants his image left intact…and that’s what Donald tried to do in the last few years, that is until he was no longer useful at the end of his term…

    If HKers can’t see the big picture and fret over some fairyland idea that your politicians must be a saint, then you get what you deserve.

    A man with a 500 million dollar house can’t be a man of the people, neither are legco members who depends on their $80k/month salary who might be the next appointed CE if CY steps down..
    Be prepare for more disappointments, HKers.

  17. Peter says:

    CY is as pure as driven snow. It has been driven on after all.

  18. Kan says:

    I’m a realist, not a self-righteous dreamer who spews principles and cliches. No politician or sane human will tell the whole truth if they think they have a chance of covering it when it comes to a potential scandal/crisis. It’s just a matter of how good he can make it sound and if the media bothered to dig deep enough to reveal the lies…
    CY surely could’ve gotten his PR to write a better script. Not a good liar…to me it’s a good sign..

    All that talk about..oh, he lied to me, oh he thinks I’m stupid, yaddy yaddah…sounds like a self righteous bore who talks more than he thinks.
    We’ve heard enough lies from the past administrations and politics everywhere else, we’ve lived long enough and yet we still have no idea what to expect from someone who is holding a Public Relations position? I find that shocking.

    To me, it all comes down to what he can do for HK and if something screws up, does he have the ability to fix it…will HK be better 5 years from now….we have yet to find out.
    Lies, there will be plenty more whether it’s CY or someone else..and most of them, told by an expert will fly right over your little heads..
    the only difference is your fragile ego

  19. Kan says:

    I’m just so shocked by this..it’s not because I’m a CY supporter…
    I just think this is really unreal…
    It’s like a public figure parking his car in a no parking zone to go take a dump. Law enforcement won’t even require an explanation…Get outta here and pay the fines, that’s it….but then you get the media on site who needs to blow this up into a front page headline, you get questions about your motivation, justification, etc.. so of course you won’t say that you needed to take a dump and it’s too much trouble to walk 3 blocks to the nearest toilet. ..So you apologize for your mistake to the public and made up an explanation that you didn’t see the no parking sign. Then the media finds nearby witnesses and camera videos proving otherwise and how you were a parking enforcement officer 20 years ago and you can’t possibly not know, …etc…so now, the public out outraged because you’re dishonest and you think i’m an idiot, you’ve insulted my intelligence, I want the CE-elect out because he’s a total liar and has zero credibility…etc..
    WOW…all I can say is we’re dealing with an insane group of people with some type of complex..

  20. Wrath of Kan says:

    Kan: “WOW…all I can say is we’re dealing with an insane group of people with some type of complex..”

    Of course. The complex is called ‘being a HKer’. Are you a newbie?

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