Asia’s financial hub is dominated by a handful of hoary plutocrats:

Many of Hong Kong’s richest families are preparing for a generational changing of the guard. Unfortunately for the UK colony turned Chinese “special administrative region”, the sons and daughters who will inherit Hong Kong’s biggest fortunes will continue to dominate an economy defined by rent-seeking monopolies. […]

As the old saying has it, the hardest million dollars you will ever earn is your first million. Hong Kong’s next generation of tycoons never had to earn their first million, let alone their first billion. The city’s property, ports, electricity and supermarket sectors, to name just a few, have been locked up by just eight families.

Hong Kong’s monopoly madness extends far down the economic food chain to its licensing systems for taxis and public minibuses. The number of taxi licences has not increased since 1994, while those for minibuses has been frozen since 1976.

Or, as a remarkable Time Out Hong Kong article from 2012 that was apparently spiked and later reinstated put it:

Here is your typical day in Hong Kong: after buying your groceries from Li Ka-shing, you hop on to one of Cheng Yu-tung’s buses to take you back to your Kwok brothers’ apartment to cook your food with, you guessed it, gas supplied by Lee Shau-kee. […]

Hong Kong was originally founded to serve the interests of business, not of its population. Government ownership of land was aimed at keeping taxes low. The tycoons did not devise this system; they have simply milked it (with a vengeance) while the government has done little to counterbalance their growing domination or address the broader impact on the economy and society. Since the 1997 handover, the government has been noticeably more proactive in serving the tycoons’ interests.

Crime in Hong Kong

This is about as bad as it gets in the Big Lychee:

A suspected Hong Kong triad member accused of making an elderly man drink a can of Coke at knifepoint was arrested in a police raid on Monday.

The 44-year-old man with a pigtail was picked up at a Portland Street guest house in Mong Kok at about 10.30pm and arrested for possessing an offensive weapon.

In the early hours of Tuesday, officers escorted the hooded and handcuffed suspect to his public housing flat in Wong Tai Sin for a house search.

The Hongkonger – believed to be from the Sun Yee On triad – is a part-time bouncer at a Tsim Sha Tsui entertainment venue controlled by a gang leader nicknamed “Sai B”, according to a police source. […]

Police are still looking for the elderly victim who was allegedly stopped on the street by the suspect and ordered at knifepoint to drink a can of Coke at the junction of Arran Street and Canton Road in Mong Kok at about 5pm on Friday.

Ok, I’m being a little facetious. Sometimes the other kind of coke is involved, as in this recent drug bust:

Hong Kong police have broken up a crack cocaine factory at a luxury flat in Yuen Long, seizing the largest haul of raw drug materials in 10 years and arresting four men, one of them Peruvian.

The ingredients – thought to have been flown into the city from Peru – could have made batches of the drug worth HK$59 million, officers said on Sunday. […]

Police said they believed it was the first time a luxury flat had been used as a base for making drugs.

“One of the reasons the syndicate chose to rent rather luxurious premises was that it provided a front to make it less suspicious and more difficult for us to detect [the factory],” Chief Superintendent Ma Ping-yiu, of the Narcotics Bureau, said.

Still, it’s a pretty safe city overall, even when you account for the risk – which, let’s face it, is present in any large metropolis anywhere in the world – that you may occasionally be forced to consume a refreshing but very high-calorie beverage at knifepoint.

Well, that answers that

From Hong Kong rag The Standard:

When news broke that British politician and human rights activist Benedict Rogers was refused entry at Hong Kong International Airport, I suspected our Immigration Department didn’t make the decision, but carried out an order from a higher authority.

It’s now perfectly clear the decision had come down from Beijing. It’s simply stunning.

Rogers was quoted by an internet news website as saying the Chinese embassy back home in London had warned him via a third party, after it learned about his plan to visit the former Crown colony. The third party reportedly relayed the embassy’s concern that Rogers may visit the student leaders serving jail sentences for their leading roles in protests. Later, he was told his SAR trip would impair the Sino-British relationship, so he would be denied entry.

The Foreign Ministry was straightforward about it. Yesterday, the blunt statement by a spokeswoman was basically related to two points: one, Beijing retains the authority to decide who can come to Hong Kong; and two, Rogers was barred because of fears he would intervene with the SAR’s internal affairs and judicial system. In hindsight, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s response prior to the spokeswoman’s statement appeared to be redundant. […]

The issue is that while the decision was made by some policymakers in Beijing, it did more harm than good to Hong Kong, because one of the SAR’s greatest assets is its international reputation, which makes the place distinct from other mainland cities.

The move was like throwing rocks into waters that Hong Kong’s leader is struggling to calm.

I think a little bit of reciprocity is in order. Is there any reason, at this point, not to respond in kind by having the next visitor from the PRC politely turned back at Heathrow customs?

Too edgy for Hong Kong

British national with lots of opinions discovers that his kind ain’t welcome in Hong Kong:

A British human rights activist who is vocal in criticising China and advocating for democracy in Hong Kong was barred from entering the city on Wednesday.

Benedict Rogers, the deputy chair of the UK Conservatives’ human rights commission, flew into Hong Kong on Wednesday morning on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok.

Update: ‘The idea of Hong Kong people running Hong Kong is dead,’ says British activist denied entry to the city

Rogers told HKFP at around 1:50pm that Hong Kong Immigration had denied him entry. No reason was provided to him.

I’m surprised they didn’t say “You yourself know the reason.”

Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui, who met Rogers in the UK earlier this month, said he understood that the Chinese embassy has warned Rogers that he will not be allowed to enter Hong Kong, despite causing no security threat.

“Now the warning from the embassy has come true, it means that the Hong Kong government has given up its autonomy on immigration to the central government,” said Hui.

This detail is telling:

As he was escorted to his flight out of Hong Kong, Rogers said, he turned to the immigration officer taking him to the plane and thanked him for treating him well. “I said: ‘Does this mean “one country, two systems” is dead? Is it “one country, one system” now?’

“He looked at me actually very sadly, almost with tears in his eyes, and said: ‘I’m just doing my job. I can’t comment.’”


Hong Kong’s immigration department said it did not comment on specific cases, but went on to dispute Rogers’ version of events, saying its staff member who had escorted Rogers to the gate had not heard his comment on “one country, two systems”.

Reciprocity. Maybe the British government should turn back the next Hong Kong national who arrives at Heathrow Airport, unless a satisfactory explanation is provided.

More on the various ways in which Hong Kong as most people know it is over.