Philip Bowring

Philip Bowring

Philip Bowring has been based in Asia for 39 years writing on regional financial and political issues. He has been a columnist for the South China Morning Post since the mid-1990s and for the International Herald Tribune from 1992 to 2011. He also contributes regularly to the Wall Street Journal, www.asiasentinel.com, a website of which he is a founder, and elsewhere. Prior to 1992 he was with the weekly Far Eastern Economic Review, latterly as editor.

Latest from Philip Bowring

Opinion | Brexit-beset Britain and Modi’s India are plagued by an inward-looking nationalism that makes them lesser, not greater

The leaders of Britain’s two major parties both see little use for the European Union because they are stuck in the past. Likewise, India’s leaders reject diversity and broader trade to indulge Hindu nationalist fantasies about the past.

17 Nov 2019 - 10:59AM

The leaders of Britain’s two major parties both see little use for the European Union because they are stuck in the past. Likewise, India’s leaders reject diversity and broader trade to indulge Hindu nationalist fantasies about the past.

Brexit-beset Britain and Modi’s India are plagued by an inward-looking nationalism that makes them lesser, not greater
Opinion | Lessons from 1970s Hong Kong: the danger of unchecked police powers, and how a judge-led inquiry and an amnesty can work

When police mutinied in 1977 against an ICAC probe into corruption within the force, the governor of the time backed down, quickly ending a profound crisis. Carrie Lam’s policy address was perhaps the last chance for her to apply similar political solutions to the current crisis. Unfortunately, she completely missed the mark.

20 Oct 2019 - 8:40AM

When police mutinied in 1977 against an ICAC probe into corruption within the force, the governor of the time backed down, quickly ending a profound crisis. Carrie Lam’s policy address was perhaps the last chance for her to apply similar political solutions to the current crisis. Unfortunately, she completely missed the mark.

Lessons from 1970s Hong Kong: the danger of unchecked police powers, and how a judge-led inquiry and an amnesty can work
Opinion | Carrie Lam has bought time with Hong Kong extradition bill withdrawal: now she must find the means of change

Hong Kong’s chief executive should sack half of her Exco to bring in change-makers, raise the possibility of widening voting rights, and start hacking away at policies that entrench the elite.

8 Sep 2019 - 9:30AM

Hong Kong’s chief executive should sack half of her Exco to bring in change-makers, raise the possibility of widening voting rights, and start hacking away at policies that entrench the elite.

Carrie Lam has bought time with Hong Kong extradition bill withdrawal: now she must find the means of change
Opinion | When bad ideas happen to Hong Kong protesters and Beijing

Protesters in Hong Kong made a strategic mistake when they vandalised the liaison office. But over in London and Beijing, the authorities are labouring under dangerous delusions about their power.

28 Jul 2019 - 10:11AM

Protesters in Hong Kong made a strategic mistake when they vandalised the liaison office. But over in London and Beijing, the authorities are labouring under dangerous delusions about their power.

When bad ideas happen to Hong Kong protesters and Beijing
Opinion | Like Aung San Suu Kyi, Carrie Lam has let her one weakness overpower her better qualities

The Hong Kong chief executive, who has stressed her Catholic faith and has a long record of being an honest civil servant, has betrayed the expectations of Hongkongers by doing the bidding of Beijing.

16 Jun 2019 - 8:42AM

The Hong Kong chief executive, who has stressed her Catholic faith and has a long record of being an honest civil servant, has betrayed the expectations of Hongkongers by doing the bidding of Beijing.

Like Aung San Suu Kyi, Carrie Lam has let her one weakness overpower her better qualities
Opinion | The Trump administration’s demonisation of Iran benefits Saudi Arabia and Israel more than the US

The US’ escalating rhetoric and moves against Iran have raised fears of American military action. However, the main beneficiaries of a weakened Iran are its adversaries in the region.

19 May 2019 - 1:00AM

The US’ escalating rhetoric and moves against Iran have raised fears of American military action. However, the main beneficiaries of a weakened Iran are its adversaries in the region.

The Trump administration’s demonisation of Iran benefits Saudi Arabia and Israel more than the US
Opinion | What Occupy sentencing means for Hong Kong’s autonomy

Now that jail time has been ordered for the protest leaders, on the dubious grounds that they inconvenienced the public, it is clear that the courts are no bulwark against Beijing’s determination to block democratic progress.

28 Apr 2019 - 11:00AM

Now that jail time has been ordered for the protest leaders, on the dubious grounds that they inconvenienced the public, it is clear that the courts are no bulwark against Beijing’s determination to block democratic progress.

What Occupy sentencing means for Hong Kong’s autonomy
Opinion | The rich in Hong Kong don’t take public transport. No wonder our road policies are a mess

The government’s inability to tackle our transport problems, from road congestion and illegally parked cars to the protectionist taxi trade and haphazard system of tunnel tolls, comes down to this: the upper classes, including senior bureaucrats, love their cars.

31 Mar 2019 - 8:20AM

The government’s inability to tackle our transport problems, from road congestion and illegally parked cars to the protectionist taxi trade and haphazard system of tunnel tolls, comes down to this: the upper classes, including senior bureaucrats, love their cars.

The rich in Hong Kong don’t take public transport. No wonder our road policies are a mess
Opinion | Duterte’s proposal to change the Philippines’ name highlights the vexed history of place nomenclature

History complicates the choice of place names while sensitivities to certain designations seem to vary with political expediency.

18 Feb 2019 - 11:36AM

History complicates the choice of place names while sensitivities to certain designations seem to vary with political expediency.

Duterte’s proposal to change the Philippines’ name highlights the vexed history of place nomenclature
Opinion | Short of a budget deficit shock, here’s how to ensure Hong Kong spends money more wisely

Years of huge surpluses have allowed government incompetence to continue unchecked, wasting money on needless capital investment. With budget season coming around again, here are four measures to improve this year’s plan.

13 Jan 2019 - 2:06PM

Years of huge surpluses have allowed government incompetence to continue unchecked, wasting money on needless capital investment. With budget season coming around again, here are four measures to improve this year’s plan.

Short of a budget deficit shock, here’s how to ensure Hong Kong spends money more wisely
Opinion | The Huawei fail: why is China hitting back at Canada, instead of uniting the world against US hypocrisy?

The Huawei arrest is a wasted opportunity for China. It could have used the case to ally with countries that resent the US’ Iran sanctions. Instead, the way it is going after Canada smacks of thuggery and nationalism.

23 Dec 2018 - 2:00AM

The Huawei arrest is a wasted opportunity for China. It could have used the case to ally with countries that resent the US’ Iran sanctions. Instead, the way it is going after Canada smacks of thuggery and nationalism.

The Huawei fail: why is China hitting back at Canada, instead of uniting the world against US hypocrisy?
What do Vietnam, the US-China trade war, Brexit and Lantau reclamation all have in common? They show what happens when leaders need to look tough

From Iran to Vietnam and now China, US leaders keep making bad decisions rather than looking weak. But the US isn’t alone: Britain’s Brexiteers and Carrie Lam’s artificial island scheme show signs of the same malady.

24 Nov 2018 - 6:33PM

From Iran to Vietnam and now China, US leaders keep making bad decisions rather than looking weak. But the US isn’t alone: Britain’s Brexiteers and Carrie Lam’s artificial island scheme show signs of the same malady.

What do Vietnam, the US-China trade war, Brexit and Lantau reclamation all have in common? They show what happens when leaders need to look tough
Opinion | A slow death for Hong Kong’s separate identity in China

The city’s cherished freedoms and rule of law are under serious threat, amid pressure – now exacerbated by intense US-China confrontation – for it to integrate with the mainland and demonstrate loyalty to Beijing.

24 Oct 2018 - 7:35PM

The city’s cherished freedoms and rule of law are under serious threat, amid pressure – now exacerbated by intense US-China confrontation – for it to integrate with the mainland and demonstrate loyalty to Beijing.

A slow death for Hong Kong’s separate identity in China
Carrie Lam’s policy plan boldly follows the government’s tradition of protecting the status quo

The few good ideas proposed by Lam, such as revising tunnel toll fees, should have been put in place long ago. Meanwhile, many of Hong Kong’s perennial problems touching on government and business interests were, once again, left untouched.

20 Oct 2018 - 6:40PM

The few good ideas proposed by Lam, such as revising tunnel toll fees, should have been put in place long ago. Meanwhile, many of Hong Kong’s perennial problems touching on government and business interests were, once again, left untouched.

Carrie Lam’s policy plan boldly follows the government’s tradition of protecting the status quo
Opinion | Is Hong Kong prepared to pay the price for undermining its freedoms?

Any advantages that the authorities may gain from outlawing the Hong Kong National Party will not outweigh the costs of damaging the city’s reputation as a protector of freedoms.

29 Sep 2018 - 9:11PM

Any advantages that the authorities may gain from outlawing the Hong Kong National Party will not outweigh the costs of damaging the city’s reputation as a protector of freedoms.

Is Hong Kong prepared to pay the price for undermining its freedoms?
Independence today? History instructs, but don’t take seriously the ‘what ifs’ of the past and future

While national borders are fluid over time, from Europe to the Middle East and Asia, the study of history should not blind us to present realities. Today’s national leaders, in particular, should heed the lessons of why empires rise and fall.

18 Aug 2018 - 6:50PM

While national borders are fluid over time, from Europe to the Middle East and Asia, the study of history should not blind us to present realities. Today’s national leaders, in particular, should heed the lessons of why empires rise and fall.

Independence today? History instructs, but don’t take seriously the ‘what ifs’ of the past and future
Opinion | America has lost our trust. We must speak up – and retaliate

Under Donald Trump, the US has turned its back on the values and principles it has long stood for, including free trade and international cooperation. It’s time to stand up to Trump’s assault.

14 Jul 2018 - 6:42PM

Under Donald Trump, the US has turned its back on the values and principles it has long stood for, including free trade and international cooperation. It’s time to stand up to Trump’s assault.

America has lost our trust. We must speak up – and retaliate
Hong Kong’s future lies beyond the Greater Bay Area, though it’s not what the government would have us believe

Instead of hanging onto the coattails of tech leader Shenzhen, Hong Kong needs a clear-eyed look at its competitive advantages.

9 Jun 2018 - 9:12PM

Instead of hanging onto the coattails of tech leader Shenzhen, Hong Kong needs a clear-eyed look at its competitive advantages.

Hong Kong’s future lies beyond the Greater Bay Area, though it’s not what the government would have us believe
Can Malaysia’s new government root out corruption and ensure justice is served?

Malaysia’s new government faces many challenges, not least a legacy of systemic sleaze as well as economic malaise, ethnic tensions, relations with China and the potential for internal dissent.

23 May 2018 - 8:11PM

Malaysia’s new government faces many challenges, not least a legacy of systemic sleaze as well as economic malaise, ethnic tensions, relations with China and the potential for internal dissent.

Can Malaysia’s new government root out corruption and ensure justice is served?
Hong Kong must face down golf club elite. Much more is at stake than land for housing

The inequity of a private club occupying 170 hectares of prime residential land, at a time when the city is acutely short of affordable housing, should be clear to the government.

12 May 2018 - 6:12PM

The inequity of a private club occupying 170 hectares of prime residential land, at a time when the city is acutely short of affordable housing, should be clear to the government.

Hong Kong must face down golf club elite. Much more is at stake than land for housing
China’s national anthem and territorial borders are not timeless and unchanging

History has a more nuanced tale to tell of both China’s anthem and its territorial boundaries.

10 Jan 2019 - 2:42PM

History has a more nuanced tale to tell of both China’s anthem and its territorial boundaries.

China’s national anthem and territorial borders are not timeless and unchanging
Hong Kong budget highlights: no coherent fiscal policy and more half-baked ideas about innovation

This year’s budget is again full of handouts and discretionary funding for different sectors, but where’s the effort to ensure a more sustainable fiscal system?

3 Mar 2018 - 7:47PM

This year’s budget is again full of handouts and discretionary funding for different sectors, but where’s the effort to ensure a more sustainable fiscal system?

Hong Kong budget highlights: no coherent fiscal policy and more half-baked ideas about innovation
Hong Kong’s rule of law is riddled with loopholes and arbitrary application

The controversy surrounding Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng points to the underlying bias in the drafting and application of regulations that bolsters the interests of the rich and powerful in Hong Kong.

10 Feb 2018 - 9:53PM

The controversy surrounding Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng points to the underlying bias in the drafting and application of regulations that bolsters the interests of the rich and powerful in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s rule of law is riddled with loopholes and arbitrary application
To fight income inequality in Hong Kong, take on the property development cartel

The problem of Hong Kong’s income inequality can’t be solved without taking on development cartels and addressing runaway home prices, and suggests raising rates and phasing out interest relief.

20 Jan 2018 - 7:30PM

The problem of Hong Kong’s income inequality can’t be solved without taking on development cartels and addressing runaway home prices, and suggests raising rates and phasing out interest relief.

To fight income inequality in Hong Kong, take on the property development cartel
China should beware the dangers of race-based nationalism

The rules of citizenship in Hong Kong that favour ethnic Chinese and which are particularly unfair to its foreign workers reflect a prejudice that is unworthy of China, given its past suffering at the hands of imperialist powers

20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM

The rules of citizenship in Hong Kong that favour ethnic Chinese and which are particularly unfair to its foreign workers reflect a prejudice that is unworthy of China, given its past suffering at the hands of imperialist powers

China should beware the dangers of race-based nationalism
Trump’s Asia tour reinforced America’s declining influence, but China still has reason to worry
Unlike Xi Jinping, Carrie Lam fails to deliver when it matters

While the initiatives announced may have some positive effect, none really tackles the major problems Hong Kong faces in housing, urban planning, environmental management and technological development. Nor do they spur economic innovation

20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM

While the initiatives announced may have some positive effect, none really tackles the major problems Hong Kong faces in housing, urban planning, environmental management and technological development. Nor do they spur economic innovation

Unlike Xi Jinping, Carrie Lam fails to deliver when it matters
From Trump’s America to communist China, contempt for history is on the rise

Beyond fake news, there’s a wider trend of people in power ignoring or excising bits of history to suit their own purposes. The North Korean nuclear crisis is one consequence of such disregard for facts

20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM

Beyond fake news, there’s a wider trend of people in power ignoring or excising bits of history to suit their own purposes. The North Korean nuclear crisis is one consequence of such disregard for facts

From Trump’s America to communist China, contempt for history is on the rise
Go directly to jail: how Hong Kong courts are teaching a lesson on the rules of the game
Why the Trump presidency may seem like a joke, but poses grave dangers for world peace