Monday, 24 April 2017

Tears and Laughter: Is Golden Dragon Copper tarnished?

[Background: In September 2012, I was taken to see the site of the new Golden Dragon factory by the Mayor of Thomasville, Alabama. The ground had just been broken, so there was not yet much to see, but the story looked a promising one: a locality with a rural unemployment problem and a caring town government was about to host a production facility that would provide lots of jobs. Unfortunately, it seems Golden Dragon pursued employment, safety and other management practices more akin to those in China, with the result that there were fewer jobs than expected, at lower wages, and the factory has therefore been plagued with high labor turnover and low profitability. The sad thing is that these troubles could have been avoided if the management had chosen to seek advice on how to develop a profitable commercial strategy along with a multi-faceted, properly monitored set of responsible business conduct policies that would not only have complied with the law but would also have met the expectations of the community in which the company had chosen to establish its operations. Other companies considering greenfield investments of this kind would be well advised to take note.]

Articles citing Ken Davies in the South China Morning Post

Brexit offers HK golden opportunity

This article appeared in China Daily, Hong Kong Edition on 24 April 2017.

As outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said earlier this year, Hong Kong business people and investors can turn the challenges of Brexit into new opportunities, and not just because the devaluation of the pound sterling since last June’s referendum vote has made United Kingdom property and other assets cheaper in terms of Hong Kong dollars.

Once out of the European Union the UK will be able to sign trade agreements on its own and will not have to wait for the signatures of the 27 other EU members, as is now the case.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

How Hong Kong is now seeing the best of times, the worst of times

Paul Chan is playing it safe

This article by Ken Davies appeared in China Daily, Hong Kong Edition on 2 March 2017.

Only a few weeks into the job, and only months away from an impending change of Chief Executive, Financial Secretary Paul Chan's safest option was to continue his predecessor's 
economic strategy and refrain from any major initiatives. He did this well. 

President Trump and what he means for Hong Kong

This article by Ken Davies appeared in China Daily, Hong Kong edition on 16 November 2016.
Will President Trump be more realistic than Republican candidate TrumpWill he be calmermore rationalmore knowledgeableAnd what does this mean for the SAR
After the biblical three score and 10 years allotted to a manhis personality is pretty well fixedAnd you can't expect the sudden acquisition of wisdom and informationSo Donald JTrump willstill be Donald JTrumpa 70-year-old businessman who boasts of success despite four major bankruptcies and who promises to fix the worldor at least the United Stateswithout any whiff ofan actual policy
But Trump is now in a different situationHe can no longer rely on his showmanshipHe has to deliverAnd he will have helpers

How a Trump presidency could affect residents' lives in the SAR

This article by Ken Davies appeared in China Daily, Hong Kong Edition on 30 May 2016.

In my last article, I sketched a worrying scenario for Hong Kong resulting from Donald Trump becoming president of the United States and imposing harsh trade measures on China. Today turn to the other policies that would have a direct impact on people in Hong Kong: Bolstering 
the US military in the East and South China seas and curbing immigration. 
As in the previous pieceI focus not on the candidate's sometimes unprepared and erratic pronouncements in public meetings but on the more considered statements on Trump's own 
websiteI also venture to guess how much these policies may be moderated if Trump is 
actually elected in November.

What a Trump presidency would mean for the SAR's trade sector

This article by Ken Davies appeared in China Daily, Hong Kong Edition on 20 May 2016.

What will be the consequences for Hong Kong if Donald Trump is elected president of the 
United States?

At the moment it looks like Hillary Rodham Clinton will win the presidential electionThe odds at Ladbrokes - a gambling company in London that takes bets on world events - are currently 2/5 in her favorwith Trump second at 5/2. But Clinton voters may change their mindsor decide to stay homeand 
another terrorist attack in Europe could propel voters Trumpward


Because of the peculiar way in which Trump has appeared to make policy "on the hoofand then intensify extreme statements when the public reacts positivelywe need to distinguish between what he 
has said he will do and what he may be likely to do if he actually makes it to the WhiteHouse.

Hong Kong's vital role in Belt and Road

This article by Ken Davies appeared in China Daily, Hong Kong Edition on 17 May 2016.
Beijing's top official in charge of policy toward Hong KongZhang Dejiangis set to participate ina summit on the country's Belt and Road program in Wan Chai on WednesdayThis marks anopening for Hong Kong to take an increasing role in the country's developmentit will be up to Hong Kong's business sector to take up the challenge
Zhang is chair of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress andmoreimportantlya member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of ChinaHeis exactly the right person to talk about Belt and Road in Hong Kong at this junctureas he has aunique combination of experience as a former governor of Guangdongpioneer of the Greater Pearl River Delta cross-province initiative (including Hong Kong), and troubleshooter

Hong Kong plans to rejuvenate industrial estates

This article by Deng Yanzi citing an article by Ken Davies appeared in China Daily, Hong Kong Edition on 22 September 2015.

Hong Kong plans to rejuvenate its flagship industrial estates to attract more modern and specialized types of manufacturingsaid Allen Ma Kam-singchief executive of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation.
The first phase is likely to see the building of more multi-story factory buildings by 2020, hesaidahead of the 2015 International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation World Conference to be held in Beijing from Tuesday to Friday.

Hong Kong's children need other meaningful education experiences

This article by Ken Davies appeared in China Daily, Hong Kong Edition on 22 May 2015.

Yet again, Hong Kong is up there with the world's best in math and science in its schools. When the World Education Forum opens on May 19 it will be presented with the latest results from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)'s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), announced on May 13, that shows Hong Kong in second place globally. 
The rankings are based on math and science tests performed by 15-year-olds in 76 countries across the world. While the OECD claims that this is the most comprehensive international comparison it has yet performed, the countries surveyed do not this time cover the world's two most populous economies, the Chinese mainland and India.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Dead fish 死鱼

The disaster in Tianjin was of course, like so many others, a "disaster waiting to happen". Yes, a tragic cliché. I respond viscerally to incidents like this because as an infant I suffered permanent damage to my lungs living in Huddersfield, an industrial city in Northern England where the air used to be filled with fumes from the ICI sulphuric acid plant and many other polluting facilities. (ICI later moved to Scotland and has tried to move to Xiamen.) I then, unaware of its nickname, "The Smoke" or "The Big Smoke", moved to London, but moved out just before the big smog that killed thousands in just a few days.

And I remember Minamata Disease, Lucky Dragon III, Chernobyl, Bhopal and many more around the world. So it's not just China. But it is China now. The rest of us have learned something from these dreadful experiences. The London smog disaster was followed by the Clean Air Act that very quickly rendered "A Foggy Day in London Town" just a folk memory.

Friday, 5 June 2015

No standard blueprint for democracy

This article by Ken Davies appeared in China Daily, Hong Kong Edition on 21 May 2015:
On June 19 this year the world will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta on the banks of the River Thames in England. What has this to do with constitutional development in Hong Kong?

Friday, 20 March 2015

OECD Economic Survey of China now out

20/03/2015 - After three decades of extraordinary economic development, China is shifting to a slower and more sustainable growth path. Further reforms are now needed to ensure that future growth is resilient, inclusive and green, according to the OECD’s latest Economic Survey of China. The OECD forecasts that China’s GDP will grow by 7% this year and 6.9% in 2016.
“Following one of the most tremendous economic expansions in world history, China’s gradual transition
 towards a ‘new normal’ of slower, more sustainable growth is to be welcomed” 
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said. “China knows how to grow at a blistering pace. 
The challenge now is to ensure that future growth occurs on a more durable and inclusive footing.”

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Ken Davies' article on China's new investment rules (Nikkei Asian Review)

February 20, 2015 7:00 pm JST
Ken Davies

China's new investment rules: A step forward, but more is needed

The Chinese authorities are at long last starting to simplify the law on foreign investment in line with recommendations from trading partners and international organizations like the World Bank, the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. While this is a step forward, it does not yet provide a completely open and nondiscriminatory environment for foreign investors.
     The Ministry of Commerce, in charge of framing and implementing policies on both inward and outward investments, published a draft Foreign Investment Law on Jan. 19. This followed over a year of public consultation and there was a short window of opportunity -- until Feb. 17 -- for comments to be submitted before the law is finalized.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Hong Kong: A Time to Talk

The students and Occupy Central have made their point in a self-disciplined and dignified way, spreading their message of democracy far beyond Central. It is now time for them to clean up the occupation sites, go home and resume talks with the government.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Hong Kong: power to the people - but peacefully, please


I can not keep quiet about this situation.

The tear gas attacks on peaceful demonstrators last Sunday were outrageous. Since then, I have attended the occupation stretching from Admiralty to Central and taken some photographs, all of which are on my Facebook timeline which you can see by clicking here. I am adding to these pictures every day, so please come back often to see how things are developing.

Photo © Ken Davies 2014.
PI have spoken to demonstrators and of course I have been reading and listening for many months and years. I have also written some articles (like the one below) attempting to promote peaceful dialogue.

The demonstrations, and the demonstrators, are admirable. The numbers involved are far higher than the trivial estimates in the local and international media. I can not count so many people, but I have seen many crowds of this kind, both in Hong Kong and in other parts of the world, and this is now far beyond the tens of thousands. Yet the self-discipline is better than in most of the other demonstrations I have witnessed elsewhere. The youngsters (as striking students have clearly taken over from supposedly more mature democracy activists) are keeping the occupied area clean, they have brought their homework with them, the slogans are moderate ("Go on, Hong Kong!", "Genuine universal suffrage"), and the atmosphere is so relaxed that slogan posters have appeared saying that this is not a carnival but a political protest.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Bridging the gap with calm dialogue

[Article by Ken Davies in China Daily Hong Kong Edition on 25 July 2014]

Opinion on how to nominate the next Chief Executive (CE) candidates of the Hong Kong SAR in 2017 is deeply divided, with much name-calling and emotion clouding the issue. What is now needed is calm dialogue to find common ground so a consensus can develop around a workable, broadly acceptable solution.


The "pan-democrats" can not ignore Hong Kong's geopolitical location. The SAR is indisputably a part of China. The Basic Law stipulates that the method of selecting the CE must be reported for approval to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress after endorsement by a two-thirds majority of Hong Kong's Legislative Council and the consent of the current CE. So central government leaders have to be happy with whatever arrangement is produced, or it won't happen.
Bridging the gap with calm dialogue
At the same time, those leaders can not ignore a poll (even if they view it as being illegal and invalid) in which over a fifth of registered voters showed their wish for public nomination of candidates. More fundamentally, the fears of a significant proportion of the population of an erosion of freedom and the rule of law need to be honestly addressed -- not brushed aside.

If this chasm is not bridged, there will be an increased risk of instability. There is ample scope for the "Occupy Central" movement, and maybe other groups, to engage in protests whose outcome is not easy to predict with certainty. So far, the police have shown decency and restraint, but they might find this difficult to maintain should demonstrations escalate and they face increased pressure to contain disruption.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Chinese government White Paper on Hong Kong

Here is the full text of the White Paper on Hong Kong issued by China's State Council on June 10th, 2014: 

The Practice of the "One Country, Two Systems" Policy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Photo © Ken Davies 2013.
  • Foreword
  • I. Hong Kong's Smooth Return to China
  • II. Establishment of the Special Administrative Region System in Hong Kong
  • III. Comprehensive Progress Made in Various Undertakings in the HKSAR
  • IV. Efforts Made by the Central Government to Ensure the Prosperity and Development of the HKSAR
  • V. Fully and Accurately Understanding and Implementing the Policy of "One Country, Two Systems"
  • Conclusion

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Road map for financial reform by Zhou Xiaochuan

This article is the first part of an excerpted translation from Chinese of a speech by Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the People's Bank of China, China's central bank, published in China Daily on December 11, 2013.

In a move to push for improving China's modern market system, the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has drawn up a road map for comprehensive and deepened reforms.
As the core of a modern economy, the financial sector is at the heart of China's socialist market system. To do a better job in the financial sector in the future, the country should firmly hold on to the essential principle that the financial sector should serve the real economy, adhere to the reform direction that the market dominates the distribution of financial resources, and stick to a development concept that prioritizes coordination between innovation and oversight.
In line with the plenum's mapped program, we need to comprehensively push for reforms, opening-up and development, and accelerate the establishment of a safe, sound and modern financial market system with a broader range of services, a reasonable structure and greater efficiency.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Waste management policy will take time

Article by Ken Davies in China Daily, Hong Kong edition on December 4, 2013


Editor's note: This is the first of a series of articles exploring policies to address Hong Kong's waste management challenges.

People in Hong Kong are impatient with the government’s policy on waste management.

This, as Christine Loh, Under Secretary for the Environment recently explained to me, is because they expect everything to happen at once, while the various initiatives taken by the government will take time to implement.

Transforming life through music in Hong Kong

Article by Ken Davies in China Daily, Hong Kong edition on November 22, 2013


The Greeks were right — children need to be educated in music so they can learn to live in harmony with others. This principle is starting to be applied here in Hong Kong.