In 1970 Hunter J. Thompson wrote a piece about the great French downhill skier, Jean-Claude Killy. Trying to make a connection with the rather aloof and private champion, he asked where was the best place he knew. Killy nominated Hong Kong, and when asked why, replied: “Because a friend of mine is head of the police there…and when I go to Hong Kong I can do anything I want.”
That is TVC‘s Hong Kong. Having been there at the handover to China in 1997 and visiting again in the early ‘noughties,’ we regret to say we’ve doubts now about ever returning.
Hong Kong has been a wonderful conundrum for over a century, a bastion of British imperialism, a reflection of the English hankering for islands off large land masses, a beacon of free trade in goods, services, money and ideas; a glorious shag on a rock amid a gray totalitarian sea. The business of HK was business; late last century it had a top tax rate of under 20%. Virtuous meddling by the State was at a minimum, but the rule of law prevailed, enhancing financial, business and most vitally, individual freedom. This remained relatively unchanged in 1997 because the handover deal enshrined the “One Country, Two Systems” approach, stated in the HK Basic Law adopted in 1997: “The socialist system and policies shall not be practiced in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years.”
At the end of June 2020, the Chinese Communist government passed new security laws that create crimes of secession (i.e. claiming to keep HK free), subversion of state power (dissent, calling for the end of persecution of minorities, and questioning authority), terrorism (protesting) and colluding with foreign countries and external elements — such as foreign institutions, organisations and personnel, with penalties of up to life in prison (if you’re lucky). It also ‘protects’ the Chi-Coms in HK, from ‘offenses’ committed out of HK, or by non residents of HK. The Courts of Law won’t be involved in determining these crimes – they will instead be heard in Star Chamber camera by a Committee for Public Safety. All of this is a massive flouting of the 1997 Agreement, which was meant to retain Hong Kong’s freedom and independence until at least 2047.
The only good thing about this is that finally, Winnie-the-Pooh’s Mein Kampf style dreams of world domination are laid bare, even to the gullible and the useful idiots who want us to abjure historical western alliances and lash ourselves with belt-and-road cash. But it seems no one will abandon the appeasing, not at least till the Pooh overreaches and invades somewhere we care about. But Hong Kong is now unsafe for those who indulge in the luxury of free thought.
At least for the foreseeable future, then: Goodbye, Victoria Peak. Goodbye, Happy Valley. Goodbye, Wanchai. Goodbye, Nathan Road. Goodbye, Repulse Bay. Goodbye, Temple Street. Goodbye, Stanley Markets. Goodbye, Jumbo’s. Goodbye, Dragon Boats. Goodbye, Star Ferry. Goodbye, decent and reasonably-priced tailors. Goodbye, Peninsula Hotel. Goodbye, Excelsior and the Noonday Gun. Goodbye, Hong Kong.