Surfeit of ‘Belt and Road’ hysteria prompts exodus from HK

In the late 1940s, did creepy-looking national leaders spout endless praise for the Marshall Plan? Did international officials line up to regurgitate slogans on the magnificence of the vision? Did oily grovelers repeatedly and obsessively insist that it created innumerable ‘opportunities’ for everyone, everywhere?

No. By many/most accounts, the post-war effort to kick-start West European economies was relatively light on hype, save for what we would now see as some fear-mongering about the Communist threat. By the time of the Korean War in the early 50s, the US stimulus had done its job, and Europe’s economic miracle and 30 glorious years were underway.

The point is: if something is amazingly wonderful and beneficial, you don’t have to go around frantically demanding that other people know and believe it. The constant hard-sell is not convincing. It’s not cool. And it’s amazingly annoying.

And so I begin my two-week Filial Piety Tour, far away (hopefully) from incessant and overbearing Belt and Road blather.

One last task before leaving – hand over keys and sign final papers for the sale of the Soho apartment. The scummy redevelopment parasite purchasers Richfield conclude the deal by putting a tatty seal over the door. I would like to say that after 25 years, I leave the neighbourhood in better shape than I found it, but it has been (and still is) a textbook example of gentrification, and more lately touristification. As the few, mainly elderly, holdouts in my old building have gleefully noticed, the more phony and plastic and nouveau-trashy the area gets, the more the redevelopers pay to get you to move.

The big irony is that once the crappification process is complete, the locality becomes featureless. And at the same time, the Central Business District – whose proximity is the driving force behind the uplift in real-estate values – is also becoming hollowed out in terms of charm (or something).

More and more grey, stone-faced, indistinguishable Mainland mega-companies are buying and renting vast amounts of downtown office space, in which to conduct their indecipherable and unknowable Mandarin-speaking, simplified-character (maybe disreputable-character) commercial activities. And the hip and groovy foreign firms are transplanting their bright, fun-filled trendiness and jollity over to Quarry Bay. All that money, effort and time – just to create an expanse of soullessness.

The next two weeks or so will take place on the Twitter thing, if at all.

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9 Responses to Surfeit of ‘Belt and Road’ hysteria prompts exodus from HK

  1. pd says:

    Have a nice break! Hong Kong may seem marginally more liveable when you return (absence makes, and all that) — if you do return, that is.

  2. PCC says:

    Have a good trip!

  3. Skinner says:

    Capitalism is about feudalism. Chinese Communism is about feudalism. They’re all about the subjugation of the masses and the concentration of power and resources. So what’s the big deal? I can’t stand Tories pretending to be Liberals. In any case, Liberals are just Tories without Daddy’s money yet. You’re just a Tory pretending to be a….Tory.

    You do need a long rest. And a bit of electroconvulsive therapy?

    Pip, pip!

  4. Regina's O Face says:

    Can we be sure you haven’t been renditioned by Liaison Office goons ? How about a proof of life post, say Winky Ip holding up an appropriately dated copy of the SCMP ?

    Anyway, the upside to your downtime is two weeks without someone snoring on about Stanley and his latest books so there’s that.

  5. Joe Blow says:

    By the time you get back, D7689 will be ‘serving’ his last month. In the meantime I hope you enjoy the Hemlock fam’ly jamboree with your inbred cousins on Smoky Mountain.

    So, in a sense, we’re all going to have a party.

  6. Hank Morgan says:

    The timing of your vacation plans makes me WannaCry …

    But while you are out there get a copy of Domestic Manners of the Americans by Frances Trollope. Probably find it not as outdated as it might appear … with a very nice sketch on crossing over …

  7. Gromit says:

    The Economist recently drew attention to a possible barrier in the OBOR, namely the repression of the muslim Uiygur population in Xinjiang province ( One would think this policy unlikely to be the best way to make friends and influence people in the Stan nations, the Middle East, or South East Asia.

  8. Knownot says:

    A Fifty-Million- Dollar Poem

    There’s a story I could tell,
    A tale of secrecy and soft persuasion,
    A tale of interference and evasion,
    About CY and UGL.

    But there’s another matter, though,
    Concerning which a comment should be made:
    The $50,000,000 that was paid
    Is a huge amount of dough.

    At least, it is for people such
    As me, who work in plain worthwhile careers;
    But if we worked for more than a hundred years
    We couldn’t hope to earn so much.

    Here’s the thing — I’m not joking —
    This huge amount of dough they chose to give,
    Which we won’t have, however long we live,
    Was paid to him for not working!

    So finally, here’s the lesson which
    I hope that all of us are clearly seeing:
    He is not an ordinary human being;
    Life is different when you’re rich.

  9. LRE says:

    Leung Chun-ying, owner of DTZ Holdings: a man barely alive.
    “Gentlemen, UGL can rebuild him. We have the money. We have the capability to make the world’s first bribe-onic man. Leung Chun-ying will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, weaker, dodgier.”
    The Fifty Million Dollar Man
    (with apologies to Steve Austin)

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