Paul Letters

Paul Letters

Paul Letters is a novelist, journalist and historian.

Latest from Paul Letters

Opinion | Coronavirus: Hong Kong’s strikes and panic are symptoms of an ailing ‘one country, two systems’

Beijing reacted faster to the current outbreak than to Sars, which some in the outside world see as an improvement. In Hong Kong, however, many hold the view that the WHO is downplaying the deadliness of Covid-19 to appease China.

Beijing reacted faster to the current outbreak than to Sars, which some in the outside world see as an improvement. In Hong Kong, however, many hold the view that the WHO is downplaying the deadliness of Covid-19 to appease China.

15 Feb 2020 - 10:32AM
Opinion | The end of history? Communism and the cold war continue to blight democratic ideals 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall

We still live in a world of authoritarian regimes of Russia, China and North Korea on one side, and the democratic US and allies on the other, with proxy-war rivalries playing out in Syria and Ukraine. With a renewed arms race and second cold war, what’s changed?

We still live in a world of authoritarian regimes of Russia, China and North Korea on one side, and the democratic US and allies on the other, with proxy-war rivalries playing out in Syria and Ukraine. With a renewed arms race and second cold war, what’s changed?

8 Nov 2019 - 4:37AM
Opinion | Why do mainland Chinese and Hong Kong youth clash at universities abroad? History has the answer

The mainland Chinese counterprotest has roots in the historical narrative of a China splitting apart under foreign pressure, which ties in with Beijing’s spin that foreign powers are behind Hong Kong’s protests.

The mainland Chinese counterprotest has roots in the historical narrative of a China splitting apart under foreign pressure, which ties in with Beijing’s spin that foreign powers are behind Hong Kong’s protests.

17 Aug 2019 - 11:36AM
Opinion | From Boris Johnson to Donald Trump, leaders who habitually lie win votes by giving people the lies they want

The rising political fortunes of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson – not to mention the US president, all of whom are no stranger to misleading voters – can only be understood as a product of our times.

The rising political fortunes of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson – not to mention the US president, all of whom are no stranger to misleading voters – can only be understood as a product of our times.

1 Jun 2019 - 7:59AM
Don’t judge Serena Williams: if you don’t make a fuss as a minority, you can’t make a change

Unless you know what discrimination feels like, you won’t truly understand why the tennis star raised a rumpus at the US Open. People who are minorities sometimes have to shout to be heard, rightly or wrongly.

Unless you know what discrimination feels like, you won’t truly understand why the tennis star raised a rumpus at the US Open. People who are minorities sometimes have to shout to be heard, rightly or wrongly.

14 Sep 2018 - 7:05PM
How a Hong Kong author’s violent childhood inspired her to write books for kids

Poverty and family dysfunction became the inspiration for ‘Three Years and Eight Months’, Icy Smith’s children’s book about the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong

Poverty and family dysfunction became the inspiration for ‘Three Years and Eight Months’, Icy Smith’s children’s book about the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong

18 Jun 2018 - 10:37AM
Trump, Putin and fake news can be resisted by seeking out alternative viewpoints to our own

The internet is helping spread falsehoods faster than truth, so people must listen to opposing views.

The internet is helping spread falsehoods faster than truth, so people must listen to opposing views.

6 Jun 2018 - 2:03AM
Escape from communist Czechoslovakia: how one man crossed the Alps to freedom

Geologist and mountaineer Jarek Jakubec, who believes life as a refugee in the 1980s was easier than it is for today’s exiles, says leaving his parents behind was the hardest thing

Geologist and mountaineer Jarek Jakubec, who believes life as a refugee in the 1980s was easier than it is for today’s exiles, says leaving his parents behind was the hardest thing

16 Apr 2018 - 10:15AM
How Florida school shooting survivors are shifting the battle lines in the gun control debate

The gun control movement led by teenagers after the mass shooting at a school in Florida has gained more ground than past efforts.

The gun control movement led by teenagers after the mass shooting at a school in Florida has gained more ground than past efforts.

26 Jun 2018 - 3:28AM
12 Jan 2018 - 7:41PM
20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
Hong Kong war child, surfer, biker, barrister: John Haynes on 75 years of adventures

The 75-year-old, who lives aboard a boat in the city, recalls early life in Stanley internment camp, fleeing China’s civil war, his bratty days in Japan and making HK$133,880 at his first trial in Hong Kong in 1987

The 75-year-old, who lives aboard a boat in the city, recalls early life in Stanley internment camp, fleeing China’s civil war, his bratty days in Japan and making HK$133,880 at his first trial in Hong Kong in 1987

20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
How Hong Kong POW Barbara Anslow killed time in Stanley internment camp

After the terror of Japanese air raids, prison camp was a relief for Barbara Anslow, who kept busy writing or adapting plays for child prisoners to perform, doing communal work and queuing for food

After the terror of Japanese air raids, prison camp was a relief for Barbara Anslow, who kept busy writing or adapting plays for child prisoners to perform, doing communal work and queuing for food

12 Jan 2017 - 1:28PM
The Battle of Hong Kong through the eyes of people who survived it

There was little festive cheer 75 years ago, as the Battle of Hong Kong raged to a bloody conclusion. Some of the people who lived through the invasion recall how they suddenly found themselves in a war zone

There was little festive cheer 75 years ago, as the Battle of Hong Kong raged to a bloody conclusion. Some of the people who lived through the invasion recall how they suddenly found themselves in a war zone

8 Nov 2017 - 10:49AM
20 Jul 2018 - 2:54PM
Retired US top gun on school in Kowloon, seeing Pearl Harbor bombed and thwarting Soviet attack on China

Former King George V School boy Bruce Gordon tells Paul Letters about watching Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, being inspired to join US Air Force by Victoria Harbour visit to US aircraft carrier, and buzzing Soviet warships amid China attack plan 

Former King George V School boy Bruce Gordon tells Paul Letters about watching Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, being inspired to join US Air Force by Victoria Harbour visit to US aircraft carrier, and buzzing Soviet warships amid China attack plan 

2 May 2016 - 12:51PM
Meet the Frenchman who hitchhiked from home to Hong Kong on 1 euro a day

From the warmth of Afghans to the mistrust and indifference he met in Hong Kong, ultra-budget traveller Maxime, who tries to live on HK$8.50 a day, has had a 40,000km journey full of contrasts. He tells Paul Letters why he took to the road and chooses to rely on strangers for his needs 

From the warmth of Afghans to the mistrust and indifference he met in Hong Kong, ultra-budget traveller Maxime, who tries to live on HK$8.50 a day, has had a 40,000km journey full of contrasts. He tells Paul Letters why he took to the road and chooses to rely on strangers for his needs 

31 Jan 2016 - 3:53AM
20 Jul 2018 - 2:54PM
10 Sep 2015 - 5:12PM
26 May 2015 - 5:45PM
27 Feb 2015 - 4:22PM
22 Dec 2014 - 12:30AM
At the end of the day, Hong Kong should get a better government

Unbridled democracy isn't going to happen and wouldn't work anyway. What could work is something much closer to full democracy than we were ever likely to see before the protesters asserted their case.

Unbridled democracy isn't going to happen and wouldn't work anyway. What could work is something much closer to full democracy than we were ever likely to see before the protesters asserted their case.

11 Oct 2014 - 2:48AM
MH17 downing underscores world's dilemma of how to deal with Putin

I was in Kuala Lumpur last weekend, where flags flew at half mast for the victims of flight MH17 and the key terms in the media coverage seemed to be "outrage" and "damning".

I was in Kuala Lumpur last weekend, where flags flew at half mast for the victims of flight MH17 and the key terms in the media coverage seemed to be "outrage" and "damning".

23 Jul 2014 - 4:09AM
The neo-cold-war world

The history books misinform us that the cold war finished around 1990. Last month, Western sanctions on Ukraine provoked Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to compare the current situation with the cold war era.

The history books misinform us that the cold war finished around 1990. Last month, Western sanctions on Ukraine provoked Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to compare the current situation with the cold war era.

26 Jun 2014 - 5:06AM
Soul searching: Prague

The consequences of an assassination attempt against a senior Nazi in May 1942 still haunt parts of Prague and its surroundings, writes Paul Letters.

The consequences of an assassination attempt against a senior Nazi in May 1942 still haunt parts of Prague and its surroundings, writes Paul Letters.

24 May 2014 - 11:50PM
Asia’s economic rise doesn't mean it will own the 21st century

"The 21st century belongs to Asia: discuss". That was the debate for the inaugural Asian alumni event for Oxford University, recently held in Hong Kong. Oxford dons on both sides of the motion agreed on the obvious: China's military will be taken increasingly seriously and its economy, together with India's, will drive Asia's rise for some time. But, ultimately, they also agreed on the less obvious, which is far more interesting.

"The 21st century belongs to Asia: discuss". That was the debate for the inaugural Asian alumni event for Oxford University, recently held in Hong Kong. Oxford dons on both sides of the motion agreed on the obvious: China's military will be taken increasingly seriously and its economy, together with India's, will drive Asia's rise for some time. But, ultimately, they also agreed on the less obvious, which is far more interesting.

20 Jul 2018 - 2:53PM
Referendum in Crimea brings anxiety to China

Russia has taken us back to imperialism by occupying a neighbouring country, but is Moscow's support for a vote for Crimeans to determine their own destiny such a terrible idea? It is if you're the government of China.

Russia has taken us back to imperialism by occupying a neighbouring country, but is Moscow's support for a vote for Crimeans to determine their own destiny such a terrible idea? It is if you're the government of China.

14 Mar 2014 - 2:39AM
20 Jan 2014 - 10:01PM
In microlending, trust is repaid

Prompted by the resolution that New Year heralds, one year ago I clicked on www.kiva.org and lent some money to an impoverished Cambodian farmer. By October, I had been paid back in full and Sophea had some fertiliser to boost her rice-growing and a motorbike to take her children to school.

Prompted by the resolution that New Year heralds, one year ago I clicked on www.kiva.org and lent some money to an impoverished Cambodian farmer. By October, I had been paid back in full and Sophea had some fertiliser to boost her rice-growing and a motorbike to take her children to school.

31 Dec 2013 - 1:47AM