My final week in Hong Kong has been both challenging and exciting as the office prepares for the Chinese New Year break. The week has been a great opportunity to learn more about the Chinese traditions and culture at this time of the year, with red pockets (red envelopes given to others filled with money to symbolize good fortune), mandarin trees (a symbol of prosperity) and copious amounts of gold coin chocolate and New Year biscuits filling the streets and markets. The Victoria Park Flower Market has also begun – one of the largest markets of the year in Hong Kong – which is absolutely magical. Hong Kongers as well as the Mainland Chinese enjoy a four-day break over this time, which typically involves travelling to see family and friends – a time that has been said to be the largest annual human migration in the world.
As the lunar year reaches a close, the Lion Rock office has been busy as they prepare for the launch of the first issue of Capitalism.HK as well as participating in several interviews and columns that have gained significant media coverage – especially considering the Heritage Foundation renamed Hong Kong as the worlds freest economy for the 18th consecutive year the week before. The issue that has become increasingly debated among newspapers and news media this week has centered largely around the pleas from pork sellers in wet markets (the traditional marketplace for a series of small retailers) for the government to intervene in order to stop supermarkets discounting pork to price small retailers out of the market. This has caused a huge stir as supermarkets have only 30% market share in pork and wet market sellers are notorious among consumers for having dissatisfying practices and prices. This has led the Institute to publish a large ad in the local Hong Kong newspapers and press which helps consumers understand the ramifications of protecting inefficient enterprise – something that has been extremely successful in helping the average pork buyer understand that they are the real victims should the price changes of pork (a natural effect of demand/supply changes) be artificially pushed upwards to ‘protect’ pork retailers.
I have also had the chance to work on an article for the South China Morning Post surrounding the Ho Tung Gardens heritage debate (last year’s Mannkal intern Lazar had written about the problems of heritage conservation and unfortunately, not much has changed since!) with 70-year-old Ho Min Kwan fighting to save the rights to her own property as she is faced with the huge costs of maintaining a decrepit building worth millions of dollars in land value, or being forced to ‘land swap’ her family home on the Peak with another piece of land owned by the government. This has been an extremely contentious issue and I hope the government moves to correct the scheme following the Chief Executive elections later this year.
On my last day at the office I was fortunate enough to have traditional dim sum in Causeway Bay with some colleagues of the Institute, which was a great way to end this amazing internship as well as learn about some of the food Hong Kong is so famous for! The shanghai pork dumplings, pork buns and sago filled desserts (an interesting mix of small rounded jelly-like balls, coconut milk and sometimes corn or fruit) are surprisingly delicious and will be greatly missed on my return to Australia.
I would like to extend my greatest thanks to everyone at the Lion Rock Institute who has taken so much of their own time to help me learn and cultivate my passion for the free market. The enthusiasm and passion of the Institute has helped me in so many ways and has been a constant source of inspiration. I would also like to thank Mannkal as well as Ron Manners for giving me the opportunity to embark on such a life changing experience that has helped me enormously in understanding the challenges faced by modern libertarians as well as the roots of Austrian economics and the legacy they leave to us today. I hope to continue to fight for liberty and freedom back home in Australia, and will never forget the time I spent being a freedom fighter in the greatest, and freest, economy in the world.