In addition to the growth of the internet and the proliferation of guns and even more powerful weapons of war and oppression, a signal highlight of our times has been the monetization of practically everything.
This increasing primacy of profits and greed has pushed downward the priorities of morality and integrity. One place where these shifts are most apparent is Hong Kong, once an outpost of political, economic and intellectual freedom in an increasingly authoritarian Asia.
As the analyst of Asian economics Kurt Tong wrote recently in Foreign Affairs, “Politics only narrowly affects the core incentives that guide financial and business decisions.”
Which means, in the case of Hong Kong, says Michael Schuman, the Hong Kong-based author of Superpower Interrupted, “So long as there’s money to be made here, money’s going to come.”
So far, the 2021 market in IPOs offered on the Hong Kong stock exchange is breaking records, notwithstanding the Beijing-backed crackdown on Hong Kong teachers and students, writers, broadcasters and journalists.
The IPO buying spree is progressing despite the replacement of hundreds of local workers in the financial industry by presumably more-politically-docile employees being brought in from the mainland.
The replacement of “unreliable” Hong Kongers by government-vetted substitutes from China has also hit the marketplace for information. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s clampers are being felt in schools and universities, movie theaters and playhouses, and in newsrooms across the once-autonomous island territory.
Arrests and harassment, both legal and physical, were already underway back in early April, when we spoke with Hong Kong-based reporter Mary Hui of Quartz.com. Since then, the pressure and casualties have only grown.
Mary Hui is a reporter for Quartz.com, the business news website, based in Hong Kong, where she covers geopolitics, tech, and business. She previously worked as a freelance journalist, covering political, socioeconomic, cultural, and urban issues.