I started my career in 1989 in the field of finance and financial media management in North America, which finally brought me into a more rewarding and specialized field of trading in financial markets where absolute-return strategies were required. I experimented and crafted my trading skills more, when I finally relocated to Asia in 2000, and I have never looked back. At the end of the day with fancy terms aside, in the risk-taking activities over the last few decades, from holding concentrated positions in financial instruments to high frequency algorithmic trading strategies, participants in both of which are broadly classified as Generation Alpha, everyone has been judged purely by monthly or yearly return to investment. On a level of more details, to what extent volatility is induced and manipulated so as to bring about certain daily or monthly return to investment is also of big concern. Everyone wants more predictability. And in a broader context, the situation in Hong Kong is highly unpredictable, and the people are hedging and assessing their risks of remaining in this city.
Last week, I talked about the final days of a friend of mine here before leaving Hong Kong, who is a young trader in his mid-30s. This Easter, I would focus on my viewpoint that the people who stay should not give up hope, despite the totalitarian regime having turned this place into something that is totally unrecognizable. If the world were not in lockdown mode caused by COVID-19, I would be quite sure the exodus of Hong Kongers would escalate at an even faster pace ̶ there is nothing much to look forward to, as communist China has decided to transform the once famed city into a “new Hong Kong” which is run by pro-Beijing patriots only, and in which people are allowed to make only “unfree speeches”.
The extreme makeover of Hong Kong since the second half of 2020 is more than surreal. Reuters first broke the news that in 2020 alone, capital outflow to Canada from Hong Kong reached USD34.8 billion, showing a lack of confidence in the extreme political makeover, with the enactment of the National Security Law (NSL). Anyone with a sound mind should know by now that with the NSL in place, and based on what has happened over the past few months, Beijing will have no mercy, and all political tools will be weaponized to target resistance. Hong Kong not only has lost its autonomy, but also has to follow orders from Beijing directly ̶ administrative, legislative and judiciary powers all consolidated under the Party. Senior civil servants need to be real “patriots” of communist China, and like it or not, they will also have to toe the party line, be vetted constantly, and rebuked by the players from within.
No one would have thought that a Cultural Revolution 2.0 would finally arrive in Hong Kong: a humanitarian and financial crisis that no one can fix now. Sadly, Hong Kong has been used as a bargaining chip by China in negotiation with the rest of the world, but its significance in any haggle has also drastically diminished. So, the bigger question is: can Hong Kong still survive, and remain intact, just as a subpar financial center? Time will tell. Hong Kongers have been emigrating to different parts of the world, predominately the Five Eyes (the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand), Taiwan, and EU countries, so the definition of Hong Konger is not limited to any geographic boundary anymore.
For Hong Kongers living in Hong Kong, the totalitarian regime is just attempting to silence everyone by persuasion, fear or political persecution. The Hong Kong court is also used as a political weapon to punish dissidents, hence the free world becoming skeptical and critical of the integrity of the Hong Kong judicial system. The Department of Injustice in the city defies logic, using heavy-handed tactics to put all disputants behind bars. May I remind everyone that Hong Kong is in its worst political and humanitarian crisis, and the city is in S.O.S mode.
On that note, it is just painful to see Jimmy Lai, Martin Lee, and other pro-democracy figures convicted. They are found guilty of organizing and participating in an unauthorized assembly, which was actually a peaceful protest taking place on Aug 18, 2019. On a more serious note, Jimmy Lai, the founder of Next Media, is facing a series of other charges in the coming months: “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces”, “fraud”, “conspiracy to assist offender”, “organising and participating in unauthorised assembly”, just to name a few. And for the case of “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces”, Lai could face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. If Hong Kong were still free, as I mentioned a few times before, Jimmy Lai would be one qualified enough to contest for the top job as the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, instead of being a political prisoner. In light of Hong Kong having already entered an era of dictatorship, it’s a bit optimistic to expect that justice will be served.
This Easter, I have more for reflection, as the world is still in lockdown mode brought about by the pandemic. As a hedge fund professional and a critic of sorts, I could come back home every day with a huge load of worry, especially in current circumstances in our once famed city. Market going up and down, upheaval in Myanmar, threats of invasion to Taiwan, and yes, more political arrests in Hong Kong. Simply put, Hong Kong has changed for good and there is no room for negotiation.
That said, in Hong Kong’s darkest moments, the worst thing that is going on now can be the best thing. Put it in a more spiritual context, through all its wickedness and evil doing, the enemy could be defeated: other forces, though silenced, will soon get ready and be “in play”, and go for the final battles. Even though the whole city is being put on trial, we should not lose hope. We will turn our loss into a gain. Let’s continue our fight in round two. Have a blessed Easter.
(Edward Chin (錢志健) runs a family office. Chin was formerly Country Head of a UK publicly listed hedge fund, the largest of its kind measured by asset under management. Outside the hedge funds space, Chin is Convenor of 2047 Hong Kong Monitor and a Senior Advisor of Reporters Without Borders (RSF, HK & Macau). Chin studied speech communication at the University of Minnesota, and received his MBA from the University of Toronto. Twitter: edwardckchin Youtube: Ed Chin Channel Facebook.com/edckchin Email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
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