• Wed
  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 7:54pm
Mr. Shangkong
PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 4:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 6:35am

Spoilt child or not, Hong Kong merits attention

The territory is more than a financial centre but insight about its political challenges is limited


George Chen is the Financial Editor and Mr. Shangkong Columnist at the South China Morning Post. George has covered China's political and economic changes since 2002. George is the author of two books -- This is Hong Kong I Know (2014) and Foreign Banks in China (2011). George has been named a 2014 Yale World Fellow. More about George: www.mrshangkong.com

Li Ka-shing drew criticism from many when he warned in an interview earlier this year that Hong Kong is behaving like "a spoilt child".

Some Hongkongers felt that Asia's richest man didn't really know what he was talking about, amid efforts by many in the city to defend Hong Kong's freedom and fight for democracy.

When I first heard Li's comments, I had mixed feelings about his contentious description of Hong Kong.

On one hand, I agreed with Li - a legendary figure in Hong Kong - that the city is headed down a dangerous path of populism. However, I can separate the intentions of the younger generation for a better society with actions that may prompt comparisons with the antics of a spoilt child.

With their demands for "one person, one vote" and civic nomination for the city's chief executive in the 2017 election, the activists haven't asked for too much. The sad reality has been that, for many years, neither the Hong Kong administration nor the central government has apparently paid heed to what they are seeking. This environment has given rise to the polarised opinions in the city, where activists are seen either as spoilt children or idealists fighting hard for a deserving cause.

Although I've been a business journalist for more than a decade, I do care about politics - in Hong Kong, mainland China and elsewhere in the world. After all, on the mainland, business in most cases simply means politics, too. How can you do business without attention to politics in the world's No 2 economy?

What happens in the city will affect the future of China, in both business and political realms

Outside Hong Kong, real insight about the political challenges that the city faces is quite limited. We have many great scholars focused on China at top American and European universities but it is a different matter if you want to find someone who really looks into the past, present and future of Hong Kong.

Most students in the West may recognise Hong Kong simply as one of the world's leading financial centres.

As you read this column, I'm actually at Yale University in New Haven. Some of my readers may already know that I've been named a 2014 Yale World Fellow, together with 15 other fellows from all over the world. I will spend the rest of the year with the YWF programme at Yale, an institution whose relationship with China can be traced to the Qing dynasty, when the first Chinese student graduated from an American university.

In my view, whether Hong Kong is already a "spoilt child" is debatable but one thing is clear - Hong Kong must not become a "forgotten child" in the eyes of the world. What happens in the city does matter and will affect the future of China, in both business and political realms. You will hear more from me around this topic during my time at Yale.


George Chen is the financial editor and a columnist at the Post. Mr. Shangkong appears every Monday in print and online. Follow @george_chen on Twitter or visit facebook.com/mrshangkong


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This article is now closed to comments

George, no offence, but this article showed not a single ounce of insight apart from you constantly patting yourself on the back and being an arrogant "spoilt child" yourself, it's quite sad that you would represent Hong Kong in the eyes of other Yale fellows.
I've notice this article being brough up a few times, and a google search for your name comes up with this result at the top, but if you are thinking of what to write for your next article, I'd vote for you actually making a comment the below article. It would be nice to get at least some clarity for scmp readers from yourself.
Wow, congratulations Mr. George Chen; how amazing, you are actually the financial editor and columnist at the Post!? It would be very hard indeed to find a more in-depth and illuminating analysis on this topic than yours.
To sip....
Let us be kinder to GC. My personal experience in associating with Yale either induces admiration or scorn. When living in oblivion is not a choice such unsure treatment is worth to take for me.
After all, in a free and a free market society, a bit of self-promotion is the necessary oxygen one needs to boost the knowledge of others of oneself to be taken notice for whatever needs to take notice.
So GC, have a nice time at Yale and enjoy the company and the fall scenery at Yale’s campus in New Haven.
I am glad GC brings up LKS’s claim of ‘spoil child’ remark in his ‘interview’. I can focus once again on it. My focus is not what he said but why he had said it. Not really about the ‘spoil child’ in particular but the general disapprovals of Hong Kong of its multiple social and economic illness.
LKS is really making his maneuvering to influence the politics in Hong Kong. The focus is on the election of the next CE. It is not too smart to bad mouth Hong Kong when he for many is responsible for those illnesses. He seems to be desperate in struggling to hold on or regain his political influence which has been lost under the CY Leung.
LKS is walking with his feet to add to his mouth as a threat to show his power of influence he so much needs to make his conglomerate continue to succeed without real competition. I will too focus on his end game in the changing political power in mainland.
If I were LKS I shall abdicate the self-serving power but prepare to regain what respect he mustered in Hong Kong. The best way is to use his wealth to make a new healthy Hong Kong with happy citizens.
We will all like that.
I don't see why the political opinions of a fake flower merchant turned apartment arbitrager matters... Or is hk so base that anyone with a few bucks is qualified to his opinion mattering?
To ***.....
In Hong Kong politics and business is one. LKS and the likes has been playing politics since the day the colonial government bestowed upon him as the golden boy among the Chinese. Never dismiss his political acumen which is on equal footing as his business acumen.
The unfortunate thing LKS with such nice qualities is that he has been over 30 years little serving the society and only does so if he could gain something.
It is a little easier nowadays to know what otherwise his behind the door politics and political maneuverings – we must still stay focus on him.
Lack of substance...


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