‘Emperor has no clothes’, SCMP suddenly blurts out

‘HK Fightback urged as new zones blunt edge’ screams the front page of the South China Morning Post’s business section. This story appears several times a week, often appearing on the front of the main part of the paper. Mainland officials in this or that city are delineating and designating little-used areas as ‘special’ in some way, and suddenly transforming them into imminent, vibrant economic hubs that will compete with and undermine Hong Kong.

Writers Enoch Yiu and George Chen in particular seem to devote their efforts to churning out variations on this unquestioning theme. Anyone with an ounce of critical-thinking capacity knows it is total or at least 95% bullshit; among other things, the stock prices of Hong Kong-listed companies vulnerable to the supposed new competition would collapse if these magic hubs were real (or they would leap at the prospect of new opportunities).

So why do they keep writing this stuff? Or, more to the point, why does the SCMP’s correctness-enforcement department tell them to do it? Is it to shoe-shine the local authorities in Shanghai or Qianhai (or Hengqin, or Nansha, or Tianjin, or the Lok Ma Chau Loop, etc, etc)? If so, to what end? Or is it the ‘pre-emptive cringe’ at work – pretending to take the silliness seriously for fear of what might happen if you don’t? Or is to support Beijing’s long-running campaign to intimidate Hong Kong into harmonious obedience by insisting that we are in danger of being marginalized/left behind/overtaken by some zoom-zoom emerging municipal superpower where aunts scoop their nephews’ eyes out and Twitterers in prison garb denounce themselves on TV?

Turn to the back page of the business section, and the plot thickens. The Monitor column flatly contradicts the rest of the newspaper’s glowing coverage of Mainland cities’ endless special-economic-financial-free-trade-hub-zones, pointing out, in effect, that even if Beijing wants to liberalize its capital controls, there is no reason to mark out patches of suburban wasteland in which to do it. The column goes further and pretty much dismisses the miracle-zones as no more than property scams, luring developers into paying high prices for plots within the hub boundaries. This reaches new heights of cynicism; hard-headed, objective observers have hitherto assumed that the Mainland local officials concerned, envious at Hong Kong’s freedom from communist-style currency restrictions, were angling for the regulatory equivalent of a free lunch, and possibly eying some personal benefits if – by some remote chance – their wishes were granted. But looking at it this way, the simpler, baser ‘land-price-ramping’ explanation sounds all too probable.

No doubt Enoch Yiu or George Chen will be back before the week is out, with mindbreathless expressions of wonderment at the threat posed to the Big Lychee by the latest Mainland super-special-whizz-bang-hub-zone.

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11 Responses to ‘Emperor has no clothes’, SCMP suddenly blurts out

  1. Seems you do not read the SCMP print edition either.

    I glanced at it during my morning exhibition bike ride. They are leading on the latest awardee of the Nobel Prize for literature telling us how censorship is a good thing.

    The SCMP on the other hand is the demonstration that self-censorship is a bad thing.

    You ought to stop reading it, even selectively. WIthout its physical thinness, which facilitates it being stuffed under hotel room doors, it would have gone West long ago.

    When are you going to announce that there is no shortage of accommodation in Hong Kong? We simply have to turn some of the offices and shops into flats. Stop being hypnotized by the tycoons and their shortage of land propaganda. The IFC is just a condo in the making. Fine sea views…

  2. gweiloeye says:

    How many of these “new cities” actually have anyone living in them – each time I see pictures or news stories there’s not a single person on the street, the empty shops have fake brandname signs on them, and you are lucky to see a car driving past. There is a US 60 minutes report on one of them on youtube.

    It harks back to Mao days of city officials telling porkies about the grain harvests or production numbers, and look where that led them. Seems like they will never learn.

  3. Joe Blow says:

    Does Adams have a Mickey Mouse bell on his little bike ?

  4. JB

    As you ask, it’s a Hello Kitty klaxon.

  5. PropertyDeveloper says:

    It’s hard to see how the terrible trio of van der Kamp, Holland and Winn can be allowed to continue very much longer their unpatriotic subversion of everything we hold dear. Can no-one rid us of these turbulent rumour-mongers?

    Unfortunately you can fool many of the people much of the time. The majority of Americans, I read somewhere, think China’s GDP is already bigger than the US’s. And these prophecies can sometimes be self-fulfilling: a fishing hut in Shenzhen village anyone?

    If they can manage to drag HK through the mud long enough and drop a trillion or two into Qianhai’s lap, leaven it with a thousand or two young, pliant foreign barbarians just long enough, it might attract a little real investment for a while.

  6. ( . ) ( . ) says:

    A free trade zone without the rule of law ? Interesting concept. Has it ever been done before ?

  7. Stephen says:

    By chance (my son’s haircut) I thumbed through a Pro-China Morning Post on the weekend. It really is as dumbed down, vacuous and rah rah (PR) China as I remember when I tossed my last paid for edition in the bin 5 or so year ago. There seems to be a theme that thou shalt not have local news or a balanced view of China in English in this town – because you sure don’t have it on TVB, RTHK, Sub-Standard etc.

    Whilst on the Sub Standard, in today’s story – “Police on case as falling bin hurts woman in LKF” was spoiled by a self-serving quote at the end from Dr. Allan Semen. Perhaps Journo, Beatrice Siu, dare challenge Dr Semen on, how often he comes into contact with residents, how many months of the year he actually lives in HK (not Phuket) and how he has personally improved the area’s safety?

  8. Pornstar Wong says:

    We’ve had so many of these scare stories. Hong Kong is the only city in Asia where doing business is straight forward – which explains the high property prices. Hong Kong’s undoing will be friendly fire (blue on blue).

  9. Chopped Onions says:

    on another note, yesterday SCuMP was busy telling anyone who could read that the schools here are so desperate for pupils (as we have a population demise) that they need to recruit more mainland kiddies. Yet we will, according to the govt, have to build in country parks, so large and homeless will be our future generation…..

  10. Real Tax Payer says:

    Personally I go with Tom Holland .
    The other reports are window-dressing

    Mind you – if you read Tom Holland’s column the other day (was it Saturday ?) he confesses that he got the progress of recovery to date in the USA after the 9.2008 collapse spectacularly wrong, to the point that the USA is – at least au Tom – overtaking China again.

    Said point being anecdotally proved by our own company’s business. In 2011 our China and USA sales were running neck and neck, but by 2013 USA has surged 50% ahead of 2011 levels, while China has dropped back 25% compared to 2011.

    Tom’s conclusion in that Saturday column ( ? ) is that it’s almost impossible to predict the future.

    BTW: at least one HK investor is jumping with both feet into Qinhai according the SCMP

  11. Nextman says:

    All to quick to dismiss the shanghai zone…indoubtbthe readers of this blog will be drawn, but it will be attractive tax wise, and from other parts of china folks will come….

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