A re­silient HK will again have to put its ca­pa­bil­i­ties to the test

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG -

Don­ald Trump’s sur­prise vic­tory in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion has un­nerved many in­vestors and busi­ness lead­ers in Hong Kong and other re­gional economies as it rep­re­sents a re­pu­di­a­tion of the fa­mil­iar US trade and for­eign poli­cies largely shaped by lib­eral in­tel­lec­tu­als who have dom­i­nated US pol­i­tics and public opin­ion for decades.

These poli­cies, cen­ter­ing on the lib­er­al­iza­tion of global trade, have brought tremen­dous eco­nomic progress and pros­per­ity to many de­vel­op­ing economies in the re­gion. As a re­gional fi­nan­cial cen­ter and trad­ing hub, Hong Kong has ben­e­fited greatly from the rapid progress of glob­al­iza­tion, re­sult­ing in the pro­gres­sive dis­man­tling of bar­ri­ers against the in­ter­na­tional flow of cap­i­tal and goods.

Trump had made glob­al­iza­tion a dirty word in his cam­paign and his mes­sage had helped him win the sup­port that pro­pelled him into the White House. Like Brexit, Trump’s tri­umph was the re­sult of a suc­cess­ful re­volt by the com­mon peo­ple against the in­tel­lec­tual elite who have ruled for so long that they have for­got­ten how to com­mu­ni­cate with the work­ing class.

Ob­vi­ously, it’s fu­tile to con­vince a worker who hasn’t had a raise in years the ben­e­fits of glob­al­iza­tion, which is seen by Trump and his fel­low work­ers to have en­riched only the wealthy mi­nor­ity. In­deed, the widen­ing wealth gap is a real and highly con­tentious is­sue not only in the United States, but also in many other de­vel­oped economies, in­clud­ing Hong Kong.

Trump had re­peat­edly vowed dur­ing his cam­paign to rene­go­ti­ate the trade pacts with other na­tions and pun­ish those trad­ing part­ners he con­sid­ered to have taken ad­van­tage of the US. How far he can go in do­ing that is open to de­bate. But, with the power of of­fice and the back­ing of the Repub­li­can-con­trolled US Congress, he can in­ten­tion­ally, or un­in­ten­tion­ally, start a trade war with the de­vel­op­ing economies in Asia and other re­gions.

The thought of an iso­lated United States, sur­rounded by trade bar­ri­ers against im­ports, is enough to send a chill down the spine of busi­ness peo­ple in Hong Kong and other re­gional economies. Hong Kong peo­ple are known for their quick adap­ta­tion to changes in the ex­ter­nal eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment. This ca­pa­bil­ity will soon again be put to the test.


Al­though US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s idea of an iso­lated US may dent the global econ­omy’s re­cov­ery, Hong Kong is ca­pa­ble of adapt­ing it­self quickly to the shifts in the global eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment.

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