At Lion Rock I have been busy finalizing my piece on Competition Law and continued to learn a lot about the political environment here as the city leads up to the Chief Executive elections. The topic that has gained particular coverage has been the calls to put a ‘price’ on waste by implementing a levy on all Hong Kong households and businesses depending on how much waste they produce (through a variety of proposed methods). This has been causing a stir amongst the public, particularly those already struggling with the rising costs of living and uncertainty surrounding the current business and economic environment. As many countries around the world begin to adopt these types of environmentally conscious plans, it will be interesting to see if Hong Kong follows a similar path.
This week also saw the Heritage Foundation announce it’s annual Economic Freedom Index for 2012, with Hong Kong retaining the top place for the 18th year running. While this is a great thing for the city state as it has seemingly managed to maintain its non-interventionist roots, the Institute has been quick to remind me that the freedom the Hong Kong economy has is continuing to dwindle and it is only when compared to countries that have increased government regulation as a way to ‘fight’ the global downturn (and therefore restricting certain freedoms), that Hong Kong is able to maintain its top ranking.
On the weekend I had the chance to explore a bit more of the Island, travelling on the MTR to both Causeway Bay and Admiralty. With Chinese New Year approaching, the streets were filled with thousands of locals buying presents and food for their family and it was amazing to see, and after braving the infamous department store SOGO (known for its very tempting sales and enormous selection of items) I now understand why Hong Kong is one of the greatest shopping destinations in Asia – they take their shopping very seriously! I look forward to continuing to learn more about Hong Kong and will hopefully try and fit in as much sightseeing as possible as I finish my stay.