At least think up new headlines

It’s Groundhog Day! in the Hong Kong news, with every 24-hour cycle bringing the exact same stories over and over again. Most of us are surely sick to death of ‘Time for Occupy Protestors to Stand Down, Says Bore’. So, how about some others?

First, there’s ‘Shanghai Free-Trade Zone to Become Freer and Tradier than Ever’.

For what seems like decades – though in fact it’s but one year – the city that’s constantly about to ‘take over from Hong Kong’ has been promising that its FTZ was going to become a special, world-beating commercial and financial hub. The snag is that this glorious rise to magnificence requires a freely convertible currency, and CD-ShaToSpeedthat would require the Chinese Communist Party to pretty much give up control of the country’s economy, which is probably tantamount to losing power, and so won’t happen. Seriously: has any dictatorship in modern times had a freely convertible currency?

Instead the Shanghai FTZ seems an exercise in make-believe. Just as kids play at being doctors and nurses, so the mayor of Shanghai can play at being Hong Kong or New York. (Apparently, the liberalized regime in the exciting zone-hub opens up new opportunities for games console manufacturers. A comment at this link suggests that the district could host foreign high-end fashion retailers, which raises the enticing prospect of the Mainland shoppers that plague Hong Kong going there instead. In which case, I will happily take it all back and declare the Shanghai FTZ the most visionary and brilliant idea since Adam Smith.)

Another headline that appears day after day under the guise of ‘news’ is ‘HK-Shanghai Stock Through-Train Roaring Ahead Oh Yes You Betcha’. Mmm… Shanghai again.

This seems-like-years-actually-months-old saga is essentially the FTZ story. Communist dictatorship could collapse without economic reform, but will probably collapse with it, so devises pointless measures that look superficially like reform, and hopes everyone will take it seriously and play along. Which, amazingly, they do: pontificating about this great breakthrough in liberalizing China’s capital account is de rigueur among pro-Beijing shoe-shiners. The Emperor’s New Clothes is not fiction.

The ‘Stock Connect’ arrangement allows a limited amount of cross-border trading. The key thing is that the money crossing the border remains within a sealed system. So the Yuan being used to buy Hong Kong-listed shares comes down here in an airtight tube, sits in the currency equivalent of a locked hotel room for a while, staring out the window at the Free World, before going back home in the tube to settle a ‘sell’ order.

If you wanted to give Mainland and overseas investors access to each other’s markets, you could easily do it through developing the cross-border exchange traded funds that already exist, maybe using something like American Depository Receipts – assuming they haven’t already done so. But that would be too easy, and it wouldn’t look superficially like a relaxation of capital controls. We need something complex so it looks like reform.

It seems the exchanges keep postponing the thing because it was rushed and the Hong Kong and Mainland tax and technical systems are so different. To show how deranged people get when suffering the delusion that a real reform is underway, apparently sane commentators suggest that the delay is to ‘punish’ Hong Kong for Occupy Central.

‘News’ should mean ‘stuff we didn’t already know’. But all three of these headlines will no doubt be in tomorrow’s papers again.

GievesHawkesCreepyGlancing across the Business Post’s pages from today’s Stock Connect story, I do find something I haven’t seen before: an ad for clothes of no use in Hong Kong, featuring what can only be described as a disturbingly repellent, cruel, wallowing-in-depravity-looking individual. Why do they always choose the creepiest models who look, in this case (you really need to see it up close), like they sodomize underage goats in cellars?

Which brings us rather neatly to this: Hong Kong is a tropical island masquerading as a legitimate city. And there we all were thinking it was the other way round. Try counting the errors, falsehoods, clichés, wild exaggerations and anachronisms in this grubby, if readable, blatantly exploitative pap. Whether investment bankers still behave this way (if they ever did), I really don’t know – I wouldn’t use one to wipe my nose with. But this latter-day Suzie Wong fantasy doesn’t describe any city I know. Still, at least it’s different.

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22 Responses to At least think up new headlines

  1. Scotty Dotty says:

    “…look like they sodomize underage goats in cellars”

    A ha. so THAT’S what Henry’s cellar was for.

  2. regislea says:

    I have read some stupid articles about Hong Kong – and Asia generally – in my time (37 years) here, but that (Hong Kong is a tropical island masquerading as a legitimate city.) one is possibly the worst.

    And then I noticed where it was written . . . .

  3. PD says:

    Every new country that accepts the yuan generates a headline, about once a month as far as I can see. So we’ve only got about 15 more years of boredom.

    Unfortunately, much of the world’s press reads the official drivel, resulting in articles that go halfway to giving it credence. Even the BBC, Juliannna someone I think, swallows much of the pap.

    Oh for the day when Hemlock will be syndicated across every continent…

  4. Stephen says:

    How to get “Occupy” to end ?

    Well CY thinks it by getting the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock market through train scheme to start as soon as possible. What a deluded fool this man is.

    Those of us not in the finance industry, who have little idea how this is supposed to benefit us but, rightly suspect it won’t, couldn’t give a stuff. Rather we would like to know Government proposals on better governance, pollution, collusion, the hanging / garrotting of Robert Chow etc etc ad nauseum …

  5. Chinese Netizen says:

    Gives & Hawkes boy reminds me of Bateman from “American Psycho”, which reminds me of the current B of A Cambridge boy sitting in jail for slashing up some Indo “guest workers”.

  6. Chinese Netizen says:

    Oops. Wrote my comment before reading the provided link. Oh well…I’m sure pretty much everyone here put those together.

  7. Tom says:

    “Rurik Jutting” isn’t a very Bret Easton Ellis character name, though. More Martin Amis.

  8. Qian-Jin says:

    @”Seriously: has any dictatorship in modern times had a freely convertible currency?”

    Well yes ! The US NeoCon-cum-Military dictatorship.

  9. Nightmare on Lockhart says:

    Reading these lurid descriptions of Lockhart Road (“aorta” my a***) and similar fare in the Daily Mail, and being a resident of the “street of shame” myself, I’m convinced that I need to get out more often, pip pip!

  10. Real Tax Payer says:

    We are truly doomed…

    I just saw Josh Wong on the front cover of Time magazine

  11. Cassowary says:

    The logical leap between “some investment bankers get drunk a lot and act like dickbags” and “this guy commits double murder” is missing quite a lot of steps, to say the least.

  12. Hills says:

    Asia finest took several hours to discover the second body, stuffed in a suitcase on the ‘balcony’. Yes, indeed a crack team. I guess they are better equipped teargassing nerdy students.
    It is all a bit sad to see the police these days, loitering in front of Government house on Albert Road, protecting our Dear Leader.

  13. Joe Blow says:


  14. Scotty Dotty says:

    In fairness to this “Hong Kong is only a Tropical Island…” nincompoop, by the name of John LeFevre, he is from Texas AND he worked in bonds.

    How fucking warped is that. Bonds and Texas?

    One about scraps off the table and one about balls and all humungness. Where REAL investment bankers (ie, not friend LeFevre) are about tripling or tentupling the wedge, bonds are about scraps from the table. “Man, I can lock in 6% while taking a shit….”

    Poor chap’s conflicted.

  15. Reader says:

    So, according to Business Insider, Wanchai is one of Hong Kong’s “seedier and less prestigious areas”. Yet for AFP / Straits Times, it is “upmarket”. That’s right, “Wanchai – it’s whatever you want it to be”. Er … within reason.

  16. gweiloeye says:

    The Wanker..sorry Banker…sorry right first time… outed himself on his own blog:

    Wow, what a dick.

  17. Doug r says:

    At least Honolulu has the comfortable shirts

  18. Jimmy says:

    Here’s another article on CNN in a similar vein:

    Bankers behaving like immoral scumbags, impossible!

  19. nulle says:

    the locust bitch called Julianna (Liu) comes from PRC ‘representing’ as a HKer…but her articles are so biased makes her articles looks like People’s Daily Mouthpieces redux…

    Now this Locust bitch is pregnant and want to consume a permanent residency card for her and her piece of locust s___.

    If you Bankers are behaving like immoral scumbags, Julianna Liu is the queen scumbag of the village of immoral scumbags…

  20. Grumpy Old Sod says:

    @ Jimmy

    The article shoots itself in the foot in the first photo caption – those kind of signs can only be found in Mong Kok. Never in Wanchai.

  21. Tom says:

    I love this idea, which shows up in both of these sensationalist articles, that Hong Kong is some uniquely crazy place where you can – get this – phone a guy and he’ll come over to sell you drugs.

    Because that would be impossible in, oh let’s say London or Beijing.

  22. Laguna Lurker says:

    The media campaign is classic Goebbels: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

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