Editorials

All the latest comment, focus, and opinion behind the big news stories in Hong Kong, China & around the world
  1. Countries everywhere have laws protecting national security, and the duty of citizens to safeguard their country’s interests is generally acknowledged. National security, moreover, is of such importance that it is invariably legislated for by national parliaments. It was, therefore, remarkable that when the National People’s Congress enacted the Basic Law in 1990, it authorised the future Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to “enact laws on its own” prohibiting treason, secession,…
  2. The narrative during the coronavirus pandemic is strong and pervasive: we must sacrifice either jobs or lives. This debate about the economic and ethical grounds of lockdowns has seemingly polarised American society. However, in reality, we all want to protect both the economy and public health. The good news is that this horrible choice might be a false dilemma. Indeed, the best way to save the economy is actually to save lives.The first thing to consider is whether we are ruining the economy…
  3. China is facing an unprecedented challenge as it emerges from a shutdown for a pandemic that continues to depress demand for its products from the rest of the world. It calls for an extraordinary response if economic growth and full employment are to be maintained. Premier Li Keqiang came up with measures made for the times in his press conference after the annual parliamentary session on Thursday.Beijing has pledged at least 4 trillion yuan (US$560 billion) worth of cuts in business costs this…
  4. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many companies conduct business – with some practices, perhaps permanently. Among these are paperless initial public offerings and e-roadshows. Hong Kong has been slow to adopt both, but things are changing. The viral outbreak – and the need for social distancing – has given it a serious push. The new practices should only be encouraged.The need for e-IPOs was brought home in the most threatening way in March when a guest who attended the listing…
  5. Hong Kong now has the worst of both worlds. There will be plenty of blame to go around – mutual recriminations between the blue and yellow camps, and on the much larger world stage, those between Beijing and Washington.But any way you slice it, the city and its people have come out the biggest losers.Politically, what has been arguably one of the freest cities in the world will be much less free after Beijing imposes a national security law. Economically, what has often been described as the…
  6. In 1921, economist Frank Knight wrote a book about risk, uncertainty and profit. Risk is where the outcome is unknown, but it is possible to measure the odds of the risk happening; these are known unknown events. Uncertainty, in Knight’s world, is where the outcome is unknown and it is not possible to measure the odds. These black swan risks are inherently unpredictable even though we know they exist; these are unknown unknowns.Investors manage risk daily with their buy and sell decisions and…
  7. In financial markets, sentiment is strongly signalling that the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic has passed. In the past two months, the mood among investors has improved dramatically, particularly in equity markets. The benchmark S&P 500 index has risen 36 per cent since hitting a three-year low on March 23, leaving it less than 11 per cent below its record high set in mid-February. While a sizeable portion of the rally is attributable to the massive monetary and fiscal stimulus deployed by…
  8. An injured Chinese soldier who had his right hand reattached to his left arm, five Iranian girls stabbed for going out unveiled, and a Hong Kong spy story documentary screened in Britain made the headlines 40 years ago this week.May 25, 1980● The International Court of Justice unanimously ordered Iran to release the 52 American hostages it had held since November 1979, and declared in a split vote that Tehran must also pay damages to the US for the diplomatic crisis. The court said the seizure…
  9. With the expected passage of the National People’s Congress resolution on national security this week, mainland and Hong Kong officials assure us that the proposed law will be narrowly drafted and pose no threat to basic freedoms and the rule of law in Hong Kong. This assurance should be doubted. The claim that public officials are reliable people who will only go after the bad guys underlies the People’s Republic of China’s tradition of rule by law. It presumes that a society of laws is one…
  10. Last Friday, after Beijing dropped a bombshell of imposing a national security law on Hong Kong, a foreign journalist asked if I was scared. As a journalist myself, I have to admit I fear the law could harm my work. When China’s parliament enacts the law, would I still be able to write that I detest the country’s authoritarian government? Would I break the law if I urged the United States to protect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy that the Basic Law promised? Beijing has only laid out…