Just the tip of the milk-berg

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.

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9 Responses to Just the tip of the milk-berg

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    “…as a Manchu plot to eradicate the Han from the face of the Earth.”

    We should be so lucky…

  2. If you mixed with the locals at all you would know that milk formila is responsible for the explosion in childhood obesity in Hong Kong and the Mainland plus the rise in asthma, autism, hay fever and all kinds of other ailments. The kids just don’t get the antibodies any more.

    I have an eleven-year-old pupil who is already taller than his very small father and mother and whose feet are two sizes bigger than mine. He eats four snacks an hour.

    But it was a reasonable piece, given your obvious limitations. Keep it up!

  3. Knownot says:

    “tiptoeing and slinking” – Very good.

  4. Prat Fighter says:

    Georgie (@Fat Fighter today) – try not to be such a sad little man. There’s no need to keep on whining here just because no one is paying any attention to your ‘work’. Then again, perhaps if you improved your own product you’d have more success. (And for the record – yes I am old enough to remember when NTSCMP was worth reading…)

  5. Les Dawson says:

    @Prat Fighter, spot on. The SCMP is now a self-parody so lampooning by NTSCMP doesn’t really work. Like Nury Vittachi, Dr. George is stale these days.

  6. LRE says:

    Thanks for the Hanfu heads up — marvellous! Militant racist Amish cosplayers: what could go wrong?!

  7. Knownot says:

    I have read the article about Huishan Dairy that Big Lychee links to. I understand almost every word but hardly a single sentence. This might clarify:

    I buy some shares
    The money goes round and around
    Whoa-ho-ho- ho- ho

    And I buy more shares
    I put the next loan down
    The money goes round and around

    And I buy more shares
    The share price goes right down
    The money goes down below
    Below, below, deedle-dee-ho-ho

    Listen to the crashing sound
    I put my shares right down
    The money don’t go round

    And I’m not there.

    [recorded by Ella Fitzgerald]

  8. pd says:

    Nice piece — every word hitting (fairly) hard, only a smidgen below the belt.

    One particular gem is: 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).

    But you’re too kind on the dismal science, and should have added: 3) (or 0)) almost by definition, given the limited slip differential feedback loop, crashes happen when least expected, but often on Friday afternoons when the seasons are turning.

  9. WTF says:

    Heard James Tian this morning doing his best to protect one of Fanny Law’s family teats, her relationship with Pearson, the vendors, well hidden, who are behind the TSA. Lets anyone pooh-pah the amount, Fanny and her henchmen, like Eddie Ng, was (and still are) passing out candies from the HK SAR’s 2nd largest running budget department. Lufsig and Fanny own each other, so expect the milk will still flow.

    Meanwhile, Canada is busy skimming the cream. Dropped by an immigration recruitment show by the Ontario Government just to see what quality of people were in the audience, and what was going down. Unlike the astronauts of ’97, it seems the audience full of medical, legal, accounting and other professionals are not planning to take their families to Canada and then come back here to work. Most seem to believe the China miracle is bust, that the easy fruit is picked, and it’s time to clear out and make a real career in the west. Corruption in China is no longer working for HK, but rather working against it.

    Closing thought for anyone planning to stay and depend on the local medical system once they get too old to get private insurance. The hospital authority is recruiting mainland Chinese “doctors” like mad, the system is about to be picked clean of all it’s “western” educated quality.


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