Among the semi-obscure wackiness emanating from China these days is the Hanfu movement. On one level it romanticizes pre-Qing (or plain mythological) dress and culture, as seen on historic TV dramas. But it has murkier fringes bordering on racial supremacism. Some extreme adherents see the One-Child Policy as a Manchu plot to eradicate the Han from the face of the Earth.
Which bring us to goats.
Beijing has recently relaxed its population control measures to allow people to have two children. This is good news for a company called Ausnutria, which sells goats’ milk. The stuff leaves human babies deficient in Vitamin B12 and costs more than double the normal cows’ product – so obviously business is booming, and the profits are rolling in.
Naturally, it is imported. And while we wonder why Mainlanders don’t buy the cheaper local varieties, we see that Chinese prosecutors are currently dealing with yet another baby-milk scandal.
Small wonder that so many stores in Hong Kong still devote precious shelf-space to cans of infant formula. It is not a coincidence that, squeezed between these outlets, you will find currency-exchange agents who specialize in helping Mainlanders get their wealth out of the country. Alice of Shenzhen tells Bloomberg about her efforts to move money out…
She plans to buy a home overseas, and probably move herself as well. The more the great rejuvenation of the glorious motherland continues, the more people are tiptoeing and slinking towards the exits.
Huishan Dairy’s director for treasury and model worker Ge Kun has gone, somewhere. (And yes, we’re on the subject of milk again.) The company’s shares plummeted by 85% last week. The big boss, and Ge’s husband, outstanding leading cadre Yang Kai has loaded up on debt. The company has previously used cows as collateral, and Yang seems to have used his own majority stake as security for loans to enable him to buy his own shares back, to prop up the price (or something that doesn’t sound hugely sustainable – Shirley Yam seems to understand).
Commentators tend to agree on two things when it comes to the Mainland’s debt situation. 1) It’s probably going to cause economic sluggishness as and when it corrects itself – no sudden horrible crash disaster mayhem looks likely. 2) All the figures are hidden and the whole picture is unquantifiable, and therefore 1) is a hope or a guess.
Hong Kong’s exposure to this sort of Mainland bizarreness goes beyond all those cans of formula in the stores. Huishan Dairy is listed on Hong Kong’s Stock Exchange, and short-sellers Muddy Waters are hunting for others, while people are starting to mutter about ‘moral hazard’. Where does this end? The Hanfu movement seems normal by comparison.