The last few weeks seem to indicate another significant turning point in the history of HK. There is no doubt that as has happened before when HK was handed back to China many who are able will be seriously considering their future in Hong Kong.
When you look around Asia and see how China is becoming more belligerent with regard to bullying its neighbours, it is hard to be positive about the future of HK. If you believe that actions are more likely to help you see into the future than the words that come from China the omens do not look positive.
In the Philippines which is supposed to be on friendly terms with China, the Chinese are openly seizing islands the Philippines owns and creating new ones to further increase its presence in the region. Chinese ships have frequently rammed Filipino boats in these seas sinking them and leaving their crew to die in the sea.
These actions are clearly condoned by the authorities in China and these instances are increasing despite China giving the impression it is trying to help its Asian neighbours. These actions and the way we know China clamps down on any kind of dissent will likely show us what the future of HK is going to be like.
For those who stay in HK and fight for their freedom this battle seems impossible to win and the outcome appears inevitable. Without help from outside countries pressuring China it is hard to imagine China backing down until its goal has been achieved.
Countries around the world, already seem to understand that the future of HK is already lost with regard to any form of freedom and democracy. Instead they are offering those who can the opportunity to move and set up a new life outside HK and thereby benefit from the business skills and investment that a certain percentage of the people in HK can offer.
If we imagine what HK could look like in five years this will help us understand how these changes may impact business and investing in HK. If we assume that HK loses its current status in the world as a trading hub and centre of business it will likely just become another major city in China with a historic past.
Assuming China takes back control of HK and the ‘freedom protest movement’ is crushed the likely impact to most businesses in HK and asset prices is likely to be negative in the longer term. The premium currently associated with property prices in HK especially residential and commercial is likely to decrease significantly.
China once it has crushed any protesters, will want to make sure HK remains a vibrant hub, however many factors which have made it a success will have already gone as well as businesses and people. There will be many who will remain in HK either because they want to or have no other option, but this will not be enough to preserve the reputation of HK as a global business hub and vibrant destination.
The change in HK is part of the constant changes that happen everywhere, no city or country can ever remain the same and history has shown us how past cities which were once successful and thriving change and lose their appeal due to various circumstances. Change is playing out all over the world as we also see the demise of the US as a global power and others like China try to fill some of that role.
The world is becoming more polarized as we are left with options as to which way of life we want. China is becoming more authoritarian and wants countries and areas it controls to become more like it. In many countries like the US and UK democracy is looking weaker and not providing the governance its citizens expect due to weak and poor leadership and a population which is tired and often making the wrong choices for leaders due to the lack of choice & education.
HK has changed and will change further as China asserts what it considers are its rights over this amazing city. For those who have significant investments in HK with regard to business or property these are difficult times which are likely to only get worse. The changes happening in HK have happened to many other successful cities and countries and will continue to occur as nothing ever remains the same.
HK highlights to us all the need for diversification in our investments and business.
Having options and a back up plan has never been as important as it is today in our chaotic and ever changing world.