September 27, 2006

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The revolution will be printed

The Standard continues its rapid slide towards becoming the People's Daily for suits. Today "Zhong Ming" ("a nom de plume...a senior journalist in Beijing) explains why China's new media curbs are good for business but omits to say that it's good for Xinhua's business (CDT has details of the new restrictions). The Standard prints this propaganda piece on a light blue background to make sure it gets noticed in the midsts of PR puff pieces and corporate notices.

The piece itself is idiotic. Try the final two paragraphs:

It is generally accepted that China's new regulations on acquisitions and policy adjustment will create a better investment climate in the long term.

Though, superficially, scrutiny of acquisitions by foreign firms will be more intense with a view towards relatively tighter control, the new rules have clarified ambiguous concepts and will serve to ward off foreign investment frauds and stimulate acquisition deals.

"Generally accepted"? Anyone seen an opinion poll to back that up? The final paragraph sets a record for contradicting itself in the fewest words possible. Either the reviews are superficial or they are intense, but they can't be both. If it leads to tighter controls then by definition that has to restrict deals, not stimulate them.

Meanwhile the SCMP generates itself a front page story by ringing Milton Friedman, age 94, and asking him what he thinks of Donald Tsang's word games.:

Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, who once lauded Hong Kong as the perfect model of a free-market economy, said he was disappointed - though not surprised - to see the city had moved away from a laissez-faire economic policy...Dr Friedman noted there had been strong pressure in Hong Kong to move away from positive non-interventionism since China's resumption of sovereignty.

"Ever since Hong Kong shifted from being a colony of Britain to being a subsidiary of China there has been strong pressure for Hong Kong to move away from laissez-faire," Dr Friedman said. "It is not surprising, but it is disappointing, to see Hong Kong move in that direction. The future of both [mainland] China and Hong Kong depends on whether Chinese policies move towards Hong Kong's or vice versa. I believe it is a move in the wrong direction. Hong Kong flourished with a policy of nearly complete laissez-faire and that it seems to me is the appropriate policy not only for Hong Kong, but for all countries."

Hong Kong's economy has been many things, but laissez-faire it wasn't and isn't. Donald Tsang didn't change that.

It must have been a slow news day in Hong Kong yesterday, but at least the SCMP got the respected Dr. Friedman as filler, rather than The Standard's disgrace.

posted by Simon on 09.27.06 at 10:27 AM in the Media category.


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Simon, it was and is laissez-faire, for the property cartel! For Milton Friedman and other American free-market fanatics, they are in Cloud 9 as far as Hong Kong's land system and property market structure is concerned and how this impacts the economy.

posted by: Alice on 09.28.06 at 12:48 AM [permalink]

You're right - it's a case of being careful what you wish for.

posted by: Simon on 09.28.06 at 12:24 PM [permalink]

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