China needs help as it struggles with Covid-19, and Hong Kong can play a central role in its recovery by offering a financial lifeline. But this will only be possible if the city abandons its own zero-Covid straitjacket by dropping all policies – except community vaccination.
The politicisation of Covid is hardly unique to Hong Kong: Australia and Europe saw riots while, in the US, vaccine scepticism along partisan lines is rife. Small government in Hong Kong has meant a botched Covid response. But this same light touch free markets and long-term prosperity are safeguarded.
Even with the help of mainland expertise, Hong Kong cannot replicate the conditions necessary for lockdowns and mass testing to succeed here. Instead, the local government should work alongside Beijing to devise strategies for managing an endemic virus.
Policies that aim to curb a virus that is already becoming endemic, at great cost to the economy, human relations and our mental health, just won’t succeed. There is one thing we should be doing, though: encouraging vaccination.
The Texas law uses private lawsuits instead of government regulation and law enforcement to advance public policy. It’s a route Beijing should consider as it deliberates how to craft an anti-foreign sanctions regime for Hong Kong.
A sanctions war seems to be brewing between the US and China. But on closer inspection, some US measures may be rather symbolic. Notably, the Trump administration has decided against a drastic move to undermine the Hong Kong dollar peg.
The law spells out the stakes to multinationals – comply with China’s political bottom lines and access the mainland market, or stay away. Nevertheless, any business accustomed to navigating the mainland should be able to adjust to the new reality.
Western governments should be framing a message of caution, not cancelling events, shutting everything down and feeding panic. If markets collapse, poverty will kill more people than the coronavirus.
A formal, independent review of police conduct, while invaluable, may be difficult for Carrie Lam’s government to order for fear of police revolt. Ordinary Hongkongers could crowdfund for a bipartisan, independent panel with marquee names in law and its enforcement.