Asia Society faces shoe-shiner’s dilemma

Followers of AsiaSociety-gate will enjoy a Forbes article looking at the bigger picture behind the story of a venerable NGO’s Hong Kong branch banning Joshua Wong.

Asia Society HK head and major donor Ronnie Chan represents Hong Kong’s inherited-wealth oligarchy, co-opted by Beijing and eager to protect its privileged parasitical role in the economy, not least by resisting political reform. Western corporates with Mainland interests play along.

The net result here is that the Asia Society faces two choices, internationally or locally. Either it openly becomes a Beijing-friendly organization, eschewing politics and economics for ‘oracle bones and Ming vases’ (to quote author Joe Studwell). Or it retains its integrity and finds other sources of funding.

Assuming it sacrifices its supposed values, at least at the Hong Kong level, it reinforces the impression that Hong Kong’s ‘elites’ have little but contempt for the broader community, thus increasing the ‘sense of futility’ (ex-Hong Kong U Professor Michael Davis). But it keeps its nice government-granted clubhouse.

This leaves the Foreign Correspondents Club as a rare remaining haven for free speech. They also, of course, enjoy a nice government-granted clubhouse.

Lurking in the background is the Chinese Communist Party. Hong Kong tycoons kowtow and Western business leaders otherwise prostitute themselves for a pat on the head from the Panda. Their reward is initially access to investment opportunities, but in the longer run, it is simply not having your wealth sequestered or plundered. Until they come for it anyway. Ultimately, everyone gets kicked in the teeth. If you are lucky, like ultra-loyalist Belt-and-Road-cheerleader Tung Chee-hwa’s family, they pay you – or as the Standard story quaintly puts it

…due to increased pressure from the mainland government, the family agreed to sell after a reasonable price was proposed.

Yet again – he who lives by the shoe-shine, dies by the shoe-shine.

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7 Responses to Asia Society faces shoe-shiner’s dilemma

  1. Joe Blow says:

    The Tung family received an offer they couldn’t refuse.

    But TCH had it coming. Xi dada has little time for Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai clique that, incidentally, also includes 689, by extension. Interesting times indeed.

  2. The problem with free speech at the FCC is that it is usually incomprehensibly slurred by alcohol and no one very much wants to listen to anything uttered within its malodorous atrophied colonial walls anyway.

    Oh, did I say something wrong again?

    I meant: Ace stuff! Carry on.

    Pip, pip!

  3. Hank Morgan says:

    Yes, interesting times.

    Pack of wolves, Wang Jianlin, is eaten by the Mouse.

  4. Reader says:

    Oh my heart bleeds for the poor Tung family. Urged, pressed – nay, bludgeoned – into accepting a 30%+ premium and pocketing a billion greenbacks. How will they cope?

  5. Gazza says:

    Interesting that the article has now disappeared from the Forbes web site (though you can still see it via Google’s cache service Have the Chinese authorities (or Ronnie Chan) put pressure on Forbes too?

  6. LRE says:

    One forced to sell the family firm, one jailed: doesn’t bode well for the latest outgoing communist-poster-boy-cum-Chief-Exonerative, given how deeply unpopular he is with pretty much everyone coupled with the fact he’s already sold the firm — which ironically lead to the on-going corruption investigation.

    CY Lam is probably too much the slow-witted bureaucrat to fully realise she is doomed, but by now it must be pretty much obvious to anyone with a lick of sense that the post of Chief Exonerative is a poisoned chalice, and a total career-ender to boot.

  7. dimuendo says:


    I do not want to send you back to the drink but your long link consistently comes up with 404 error. So said article has presumably been removed from the cache!

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