Wow – the West Kowloon Cultural Hub-Zone really really wants to get into the luxury housing business. They went through all this just a few weeks ago, also loudly insisting that they don’t want to take public money. Two questions. From a financial point of view, wouldn’t it be better for museums to lease property assets to get recurrent income rather than sell it for a one-off lump sum? (Or will the proceeds be transferred to a superbly managed endowment?) And do any other government-founded non-profit cultural facilities in the world raise funds by selling up-market housing?
(A third: would it help if non-tycoons/civil servants helped head up the Hub-Zone – they might be able to think of something other than real-estate plays? As it is, WKCHZ Chair/illegal basement expert Henry Tang is calling separately for lower taxes on luxury-home sales.)
No sooner does the flooding subside than it’s back to NatSec. Exiled Ted Hui’s parents and siblings-in-law get the ‘taken in for questioning’ treatment. (Do his in-laws even like him? I’ve no idea, but spouses’ parents are not always approving.) And a student gets six months’ prison for sedition over a plan to display a banner featuring the Pillar of Shame sculpture. (Is any portrayal of the sculpture – whose Danish creator is apparently wanted in Hong Kong – forbidden? Any planned portrayal?)
(While we’re on that subject – a quick aside on comments. Yes, they are occasionally edited for ‘national-security reasons’. And non-Twitter users can no longer view all of a thread, courtesy Elon Musk. Will bear in mind.)
Some mid-week links…
The Conversation on Beijing’s new idea to deflect criticism of its human rights record…
…China is seeking not merely to resist but to dismantle a foundational idea of the post-Cold War international order – the universality of human rights.
…The government’s new strategy is called the “Global Civilisation Initiative”. And it’s become a major weapon in the Chinese party-state’s foreign propaganda arsenal.
The initiative was first announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in March. It complements two previously announced (and similarly named) diplomatic tools: the Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative.
Together, these intentionally vague concepts are designed to expand China’s influence over international institutions and norms. They also advance Xi’s plan for the “great renewal of the Chinese nation”.
…The truth, however, is the initiative represents a kind of modern-day tribute system in which an all-powerful China sits atop a hierarchy of like-minded states from the Global South.
In exchange for kowtowing to Beijing, the Chinese government offers developing countries lucrative trade and investment opportunities and the ability to emulate its authoritarian political model.
Foreign Policy on China’s apparent preference for ‘guns over butter’…
China’s economic growth has been slowing for over a decade, so the CCP has had plenty of time to responsibly manage the deceleration and—as urged by many Western policymakers and economists—transition to more sustainable consumption-led growth. But the party has failed to implement this advice, perhaps because it would require structural changes that might weaken its grip on power. Instead, the CCP responded to slowing economic growth by pouring resources into its military…
…We estimate that from 2015 through 2019, China’s military spending grew nearly twice as fast as China’s official GDP in real terms.
SMH interviews Joerge Wutke, outspoken head of the EU chamber of commerce in China…
Wuttke said Xi’s desire for total control would see the Chinese economy struggle, especially as the low-hanging policy fruits that had generated economic activity had already been plucked.
“China will definitely have to live with a much lower growth projection … this leadership is willing to sacrifice economic growth for the sake of ideology,” he said.
“The old equation was always that China does anything to add economic growth because that was the perception of what keeps us in office.
“Now what keeps the party in office is utter, 110 per cent control.”
Wuttke said China’s tactics were deliberate and that the economic weakness invited the question of how stable the country could be in the “enhanced Xi Jinping echo chamber” that prevails in Beijing.
CMP surveys and explains ‘old friends’ of the Chinese people…
Consider, too, the home countries of China’s “old friends,” which correspond with the country’s diplomatic wishes and concerns. With over 100 “old friends,” China’s historical enemy Japan is home to more than anywhere else in the world — by a long shot. Coming in second, with half that amount, is Beijing’s more recent great-power rival, the United States of America.
Why are there more “old friends” where friendship most eludes China? Because these places are precisely where friends are most useful.