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31 August 2019


Helmut Knipp

Well, the election is over and the "people" have spoken, in favor of a more democratic approach as had been promised under the original agreement when Britain handed HKG over to China.
Britain, in my opinion, is responsible for some if not most of these expectations which remain and probably will remain unfulfilled. Let's not forget that during over 150 years of reign , Britain never gave HKG a free vote. Instead it always ruled, not really governed. Then a few months before the handover they suddenly said to the people of HKG that they should have the right to vote. Why not 150 years earlier?
Anyway, I sincerely hope the protesters will find a reason able and strong leader and that China will find a new, likable, and flexible Chief Executive and that a mutually acceptable compromise can be found. HKG is one of the gratuities of the world and it would be a shame for both sides if that were to permanently change.

Helmut Knipp

Hello David,
I sent a comment last week but as it is not yet posted, I can only assume that I did something wrong when I submitted it.
Well, with slightly different verbiage I will try again. I am getting really worried about the deteriorating situation in HKG. While I am not sure that we are not only seeing the worst, in line with the medias old adage, "If it bleeds it leads". But, what we are seeing, is not good and seems to reflect a lack of restraint and willingness to compromise on all sides.
We can only hope and pray that eventually a "smart and wise" leader will evolve and add both caution and compromise to the demonstrators.
What really disturbs me is that, according to the media, people from 12 to 82 are involved and being arrested. That is not good for either side.
The police are getting rougher and more brutal and the demonstrators are getting more aggressive and brutal as well. Throwing molotov cocktails will not help and should be stopped. Neither will police brutality of any kind.
For the chief executive to "disappear" and not be involved in finding a solution is also very bad and maybe, she should resign and China find someone more flexible and, very important, MORE LIKEABLE. She certainly fails on that score.
Well that's my five cents worth.......It just worries me that "my" HKG is deteriorating so rapidly.
David, I trust you and your loved ones are well and that you are not personally affected by all this.


Helmut Knipp

Hello David, Greetings again from the Great Sate of Texas........
As stated previously, I don't believe either side can come out of this without a bloody nose or worse. Things seem to be trending toward worse due in part to the apparent lack of any centralized leadership on the part of the protesters and certainly a lack of leadership from Hong Kong's chief executive.
The protesters believe in their causes and the police believe they need to defend themselves..........neither is willing to concede that the other side maybe be partially right, and the downward spiral continues until China gets fed up an puts a more violent stop to this...and, I am convinced they eventually will. And, that is not a good outcome for either side.
As I look at the media here, I probably only see some of the worst because the media in their tried and true fashion follow their formula, "if it bleeds it leads". This only worsens the situation. But I also read that the police has been arresting protesters between 18 and 82. If true, that is sad and not a good sign.
Someone must emerge a s leader of the protesters who has the guts to negotiate form what I think is a deteriorating and weak position. On the other hand, the chief executive, if you can call her that, must come forward and negotiate as well, or resign and make room for someone else, more acceptable to the populations in general. I get the impression she was not very popular before this all started. Somebody must stand up and start the process and not worry about their ego.
Anyway, thats my 5cents worth from afar, but from someone with a lot of love and affection for Hong Kong.
My offer to trade California for Hong Kong still stands, because they are getting weirder by the week out west and you can have them.
Trust you personally and your loved ones are well.


Hi David

Once again you fall into the trap of reading what you want to read and commenting selectively……

You must have a weird dictionary that defines totalitarian regimes as ones who have to seek democratic re-election periodically. Boris Johnson is about to have to submit himself to his electorate. I doubt Xi Jinping will be doing that soon (although I guess he might get purged eventually.) That a few Chinese companies and their CEOs have become rich beyond their wildest dreams is little to do with real innovation and everything to do with the largesse doled out by the CCP to a few useful idiots who are indentured for the rest of their mortal days, and who have, in any event had to steal IP from American and European companies, and list their businesses in New York or London to make a real success. As a senior banker you know how dodgy this all is…… don’t you?

But to the central point - your inability to criticise or accept criticism of the Chinese or Hong Kong authorities without having to resort to “whataboutery.” I hold no candle for Trump or Johnson (I’m sure even you realise that) and I’ll happily debate their (de)merits if that’s the subject, but it’s not. It’s what’s going on in Hong Kong. In any event trying to draw any sort of equivalence between Trumps withdrawal of forces in Syria, and the Xingjiang situation is nonsense. I don’t think Trump has, at least not to date, imprisoned millions of his own people in concentration camps because they hold religious views different to his own (although by the sounds of things Helmut might like to see a bit of that happen in California)

As to my point 4 - I jut used your words back to you to show how illogical your position is. You object to having your friends beaten up, I object to having anyone beaten up, and in particular by the police who are supposed to protect us and should be accountable to us, not side with triad thugs keen to show Beijing who’s side they are on.

I’m not sure why you raise your humble beginnings and successful career - does it add anything to the debate? I have formed and sold two businesses and have enough lucre to live out the rest of my days doing what Helmut does (although I choose to use my time more productively.) I’m sure my origins are at least as humble as yours, and I know I have been absolutely lucky. I know successful people like to think their success is all down to their ability, hard work, motivation, all round brilliance etc, but lets be honest, its mostly turn of fate. And I note you pay your taxes here (meaning HK?) and then tell me that means nothing to me? Actually it does. I’ve paid my taxes in HK for the past 28 years. The government taxes and those that are due to rent seeking tycoons every time I open my front door, or open a new office or warehouse, shop for groceries or flick a light switch.

On one thing you are right though, dialogue, proper conversations, as you say, would have been preferable to this. You are well connected, why not have a go discussing this with Xi Jinping or his guys. Get back to me when you’ve solved the problem.

Once again thank you for letting me post on your blog. I won’t trouble you further. You might like to know though that I am typing this in Beijing but I can only post it using my VPN, as the great firewall of China doesn’t approve of the freedom of expression you treasure.


Hi Helmut. My nationality is irrelevant. Although for those less liberally minded it is, I know, most important (presumably to you too?) Most liberal/democrat types (I love the way you like to associate socialists with that group, its so.... Trumpian.....) are not misguided at all. They expect and rightfully so, some basic rights available to all people, and not just the right to sip a margarita untroubled by news you don't like to see. I guess from Texas you really can't see how the rights you enjoyed when you lived in HK have been enormously eroded and how the police have become a law unto themselves. Still, unlike millions of Hong Kongers you don't need to worry about that as you sit in your bubble sipping cocktails. Enjoy!

David Eldon

Henry, once again you fall into the trap of reading what you want to read and commenting selectively. You talk about being afraid of a totalitarian authority – in other words a repressive regime that pays no attention to its people. Welcome to Britain! But I presume you mean a regime that has allowed major international companies (now more Chinese companies in the Fortune 500 than US companies) to grow and its founders to get wealthy – and much of this just across the border from Hong Kong. Where we could have had input and created an advantage. No, I don’t approve of the acts undertaken in China in, for example, its treatment of the Uighurs. I have been up there and visited. But then neither do I approve of the US Administration’s immediate withdrawal from Northern Syria allowing Turkish forces a free hand to deal violently with the Kurds, but for me more importantly allowing ISIS detainees to now flee that area and return to the world. That will create more problems than you can imagine, but President Trump claims it as "brilliant strategy". I totally disagree. I agree that excessive police force needs to be investigated – but then let us not be shy – the whole thing needs to be the subject of an independent – truly independent – enquiry. Cause and effect. Your point (4) – really? Of course I have no rights to be the only voice of reason – and neither do you. But I do object to having friends stopped by thugs and asked for their phones so they can check and see “whose side they are on”. I object to friends being beaten up because they do not agree with the protesters views. The point you seem to miss is that the key to the phrase "freedom of speech" is the word “freedom”. Do I agree with everyone else. Of course not. Do I think I am the only voice of reason? Of course not. Wake up Henry! And then we get down to your other points. Who will pay? Henry, the people will pay. Those who pay taxes will pay, and they are not all from the small elite you target and talk about. I have fought and saved my way from a life which would otherwise have been spent in the slums of one of the UKs notoriously dangerous cities. No private school education, but I got “lucky”, and am grateful for it. And I pay my taxes here. None of that would mean anything to you of course, but it saddens me to see what the young people of Hong Kong are doing to their future. And it saddens me that the Administration has not done more to deal with this. Dialogue – proper conversations – would have been preferable to this… but that is where I came in.

Helmut Knipp

Henry, I don't know what your nationality is, but you certainly sound like many, strike that, all of the misguided liberals/democrats,socialists, etc we have to put with up in the US at this time. I will not waste my time to respond to each one of your points because I hate to waste my time. Instead I repeat my offer to trade HKG for california which in terms of current "democratic/socialist" government may be closer to China at this time than HKG.

by the by, I really enjoyed those Margaritas.


Hello David, Hello Helmut. Pardon me for intruding on your echo chamber, or love in, or whatever. Indulge me for a moment whilst I comment on some of the more "interesting" points you make.

1) As requested, I'm taking a hard look at why I disagree with your position....... Is it an inherent fear or lack of "understanding" of China? Errr... no, although I acknowledge I fear the CCP and don't understand a totalitarian authority that derives its power from force and abuse. And I'm not bothered about the prosperity that regime has brought to the people of China, because that same prosperity could easily have been brought about by a properly democratic authority.

2) China will ultimately prevail and all we can do is hope and pray they'll be gentle...... Oooh - not sure how or where to start there. Sounds feudal and as long as we tug our forelocks and plead, hopefully they won't chop our heads off.

3) Interesting that the boy who was shot was supposedly warned twice. I didn't hear that on any of the videos (was it the senior superintendent who exonerated the police officer within 45 minutes of the event who said it?) As for sweets, it's a bit late for that. You need to start handing those out before (or instead of) firing rounds of tear gas or kicking the hell out of people on the MTR.

4) Your point that the protestors who call for freedom of speech won't accept the alternative (meaning yours?) point of view is one of the most illogical things I've heard. Freedom of speech involves disagreement. Thats what freedom of speech is about Of course if you voice the "alternative point of view" on the mainland you risk being "re-educated," not just disagreed with.

5) Who will pay for the wilful damage caused by vandals? Almost certainly the same people who have paid far, far more to enrich a small group of "elite" rent seekers in Hong Kong who have been enabled by the mainland and HK authorities.

6) Its such a shame that high end outlets like Prada are closing down. What will this cost us economically? I fear for the millions in Hong Kong who won't be able to get their Prada outfits, or LVMH bags, or whatever.

7) I'd love to join you for Margaritas around the pool. Sounds lovely. Maybe we can also invite a couple of million legitimate protestors from Hong Kong. I'm sure they'll see the light after a few cocktails.

8) I do appreciate being able to voice my opinions on your blog. It would be very easy for you to just bar them. Thats one thing at least. Check out whether you can do that on any controversial Chinese blogs hosted on the mainland (oh.... there aren't any....)

David Eldon

Indeed, James, matters have escalated and the mindless violence is not going to be the way to find a solution. The protesters do not seem to have a leadership that is willing to discuss matters rationally, and the administration (cannot really call it Government) does not seem to have any ideas either.
However, to your questions; the HKD peg has been brought into question on a good number of occasions. It was introduced at a time of instability in Hong Kong and removing it in a time of instability would be bizarre in the extreme. The peg, probably most famously was a feature of speculative moves by George Soros many years ago. He lost.
My views on Hong Kong as a financial centre have not shifted dramatically since my comments on 3 September - and if you have not seen it, there is an article in today's South China Morning Post that bears reading on the subject. Not sure if this link works or not: https://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/3032199/unconvertible-yuan-drag-shenzhens-race-supplant-hong-kongs
They key in that article, for me anyway, is the notion that Hong Kong and Shenzhen should work more in cooperation than competition. I remain depressed by the situation (globally as well as Hong Kong), but optimistic about the future. To do otherwise would be to give up!!


Hi David,
Things have certainly escalated. And certainly things have become terrible with such violence.

Economically, some suggest, like Jim Rogers (investor) that the HKD to be no longer, particularly that it has been pegged to the USD for 37 or so years.
The movement of capital is or has already moved. Retail particularly high end (im thinking of Prada, and the like) have closed some stores. Have you revised views since last correspondence on 3rd Sept?

David Eldon

Hope the pool was good ,,, it's the best place to cool down, and sadly Hong Kong looks nothing like cooling down. Heaven knows where the cool heads are - they are certainly not represented by the wilful vandals, and of course my question as a taxpayer in Hong Kong is who is ultimately going to pay for the damage? Not the people who are not working ... that's for sure, although they may pay for it in the future.
As for the Margaritas .. I'm on!!

Helmut Knipp

Indeed, there will be, but the eventual outcome will be in favor of China, like it or not. They have the long view, they have they staying power and they are willing to take the risk...........Face its what it is all about.
Cheers, from another hot day in Texas........the pool will feel great, especially with a cold beer or margarita in my hand.

David Eldon

The bizarre thing Helmut is that the protesters are, amongst other things, calling for freedom of speech and yet if you express an alternative view to theirs they do not want to accept it. I guess it happens everywhere. I too am sorry for the boy who was shot, and who I am told is, thankfully, in a stable condition - but if you are about to be smacked around the head with a metal bar and warn the assailant - more than once - that you will fire if he continues, what are the police to do instead - offer him a sweet? Neither side is going to step down here (not that the Government have stepped up!), and it is hard to see how this will end. However it is, there will be tears.

Helmut Knipp

Hello David, once again from the Great State of Texas,
While the subject is probably one neither you nor I really enjoy commenting on present circumstances force us to take a stand. Because, as we know, "the hottest places in Hell are reserved for this who at times of great crisis preserve their neutrality".
That said, I generally agree with your position and say to those who disagree, take a hard look at why you disagree. Is it an inherent fear or dislike of China? Or is it a lack of knowledge or understanding of China. China will ultimately prevail and we can only hope and pray that the powers that be in Beijing will be gentle and exercise restraint even if that may be difficult.
As an aside, I loved living in HKG and my wife and I even were married there. All of our memories of 16 years are good ones and we/I hate to see stem destroyed.
My offer to trade HKG for California still stands!
In closing, let us pray for the speedy, full recovery of the protester that was shot yesterday.........not an auspicious event on the 70th Anniversary.


For some balance, perhaps check out other points of view





Once again, it seems to be impossible for you to simply acknowledge rightful criticism of Chinese or Hong Kong authorities without resorting to whataboutery from a different age. As you criticise Hong Kong protesters for smashing up MTR stations you don't criticise HK police for throwing tear gas or firing rubber bullets. Maybe you weren't there but I can tell you that these were not responses anything like commensurate with what was happening in the first instance, and the only effect has been to escalate the tensions. But the police are the police and if you were brought up in a certain way then you respect the rule of THE law, no matter how closely it resembles triad activity. If the police had handed out sweets to protestors in the first instance I doubt we'd be where we are.

I'm not suggesting protesters deserve a share of other peoples money. I am saying for the most part they have not been able to share in policies that wrongly enrich a certain type of rent seeking, monopolistic tycoon, no matter what rubbish they spout about how they have created trickle down effects. There is no meritocracy in Hong Kong, you know that. There isn't much in UK or US either for that matter, but HK has a much greater disparity between rich and poor.

As for "being careful what you wish for" tell me seriously you prefer a totalitarian communist regime to a democratic model? You might deny that's what you explicitly say, but you are more than implying it by continually rubbishing eg UK democracy (without of course saying anything about the regime to the north) Once again you simply seem incapable of anything other than apology for the CCP.

David Eldon

I don’t know, nor does it matter to me, how you were brought up, but I come from an era where I was taught to respect the rule of law, and where wilfully and criminally damaging property that does not belong to you and which therefore has to be paid for by the taxpayer was not the right way to make a protest.
I also have worked hard for whatever benefits I have derived, and was not given anything or inherited anything to help me on my way. You seem to suggest that the protesters deserve a share of other people’s money.
My premise on the UK, obviously not written clearly enough, was to say “be careful what you wish for”. If you think a UK democratic process is a model to which you aspire, look at that process carefully. I did not say the China model was better.
Do I condone Tiananmen or Xinjiang actions? I do not. Neither do I condone genocide in Sudan, or the behaviour of Colonial Britain in slaughtering Indians in Amritsar or other places, or the illegal incarceration of people being used as pawns in Iranian gaols. We do not live in a perfect world - and if you look globally instead of just here we are probably closer to a war than at any time in recent history. There needs to be dialogue, and rational perspective brought to a situation that is out of hand.


You do seem to find it hard, almost impossible to brook any criticism of the authorities, Chinese or Hong Kong, the police, or "business." Of course when there big bags of money at stake then what do the protests of those who have had no opportunity to share in that wealth matter?

Whatever you might think about the UK system of government, it is crass in the extreme to suggest it might not be as good as the totalitarian regime north of the border. Boris Johnson was indeed elected by 0.3% of the population but sooner or later he will have to face the electorate, a fate that isn't going to befall Carrie Lam or Xi Jingping.

As to China being a supporter of, or tolerating protests in the past, I assume you have been re-educated about Tiananmen and Xinjing

David Eldon

Hi Helmut; pleased to see you haven’t lost your sense of humour in this crazy world - but it’s about all we have left now. A sense of humour and one hopes, an idea on perspectives. Of course - and as you know anyway - I have been (and am still) resident in Hong Kong for many more years than you were here but perhaps we have a similar amount of concern for the future of the territory. You are correct that as matters stand there are unlikely to be any winners. No sides now have a clear way out. The protesters are, largely, people who were not born when China resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong and as a result show a disregard for the law surrounding that event. But I understand their desires for the future. Desires that perhaps would be better met by proving to China that Hong Kong has been and will continue to be a useful addition to China rather than a thorn in its side. And to let the protesters understand that in a globally changing and challenging world (not just Hong Kong) they need to focus on ensuring there are jobs available and affordable accommodation too. As for democracy - again, have a look at Britain which is not a great example. And on the subject of California - what can I say? I thought you had a lot of Chinese there already. :-)

Helmut Knipp

Hello John from the Great State of Texas,
As a former longterm resident (16 years) of Hong Kong I have been watching these moves and countermoves with great interest an trepidation.
I don't think either side can win and declare victory. The Hong Kong community with ultimately loose as China, for political reasons and to maintain its image, must prevail. Hong Kong people on the other hand will wind up not only losers, but with a bloody nose, at best.
I have an alternate, tongue in cheek, solution. Hong Kong People are waving the American flag more fervently than, certainly democrats, in our own country, and are asking for US intervention and help. The US cannot and will not do that.
However, I have a suggestion. While Hong Kong wants to have a closer relationship with the US, we have "california" that wants to be socialist if not communist. Why don't we just agree to an even trade. You get california and we get Hong Kong. I think everyone would be happy.

David Eldon

Fair question James. I think we have to honestly say that centres such as Shanghai or even closer to home, Shenzhen, have ambitions to be global financial centres. That said, Hong Kong’s legal system is perceived as being more stable than other jurisdictions and the level of global talent available in Hong Kong remains high. For those reasons, and while China remains supportive of Hong Kong, my current thinking is that Hong Kong’s position as a global financial centre remains intact.


Thank you as always for the insightful thoughts.

One question that has been on my mind, given the turn of events, [of which I don't think anyone suspected to gain the traction it has (i.e. violence in what we are witnessing)], has Hong Kong lost its status as a global financial centre if things continue as they are or get worse?

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