Hong Kong has set the standard for charter cities. But it’s not a transportable blueprint.

Many Hong Kongers have said they are considering leaving the city due to the worsening political climate, but would any choose Ireland?

According to the original plan of real estate developer Ivan Ko, the charter city “Nextpolis” will intervene between the two largest cities in Ireland, leaving 500,000 Hong Kongers as shelter from hometown political pressures.

However, while charter cities are very common, international charter cities are another matter. The idea proposed in the late 2000s was that new cities could be established in developing countries and run by external governments or organizations. It was a way to strengthen development through economic and social models that are completely different from other countries.

If “Nextpolis” goes on, it will be the first bid to establish an international charter city in nearly 10 years, and it will be the first attempt beyond the planning stage.

While previous attempts have derailed due to corruption and instability, the model itself has received some criticism as being neo-colonial and impractical.

Go, the founder of the Victoria Harbor Group (VHG), an international chartered city investment firm, said plans to plan a “new Hong Kong” in Ireland are still under way, despite the lack of obvious progress with the Irish authorities.

What is Charter City

International charter cities Economist Paul Romer Late 2000s.

Hong Kong in itself has inspired many advocates of international charter cities. Romer saw this as a proof of concept. A city that has operated as a British framework in Asia for decades and a unique political and economic system within China.

International Charter Cities work as follows: New cities are created within sovereign states, but you are free to experiment with your own political and economic systems, which are generally low in taxes and lack of regulation. Foreign countries can also act as administrators of the city, the ripple effect of which is the idea that the city will boost the economy of the developing countries in which it was built.

At Ted Talk in 2009, Romer gave an example of creating a Canadian-managed “special administrative area” in the Gulf of Guantanamo at the southeastern tip of Cuba and “connecting the modern economy to the modern world” in Cuba. . This is similar to how China created a special economic zone in Shenzhen in Shenzhen to connect the country with the capitalist world and provide greater economic freedom to experiment without the overall change of the national economic system.

However, Romer’s two attempts were to make the city of international charter. Madagascar and Honduras, Both ultimately failed.
that much The first project collapsed When Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana, Romer’s patron, lost power in a 2009 coup. He turned his attention to Honduras some time ago. Own coup, Takes over President Porfirio Lobo. Concerns about corruption Endure the projectAnd Romer Eventually resigned The Transparency Committee, which had to oversee it, said he was blocked from key information.
For many critics For the charter city model, the instability and corruption seen in these developing countries are The problem at the heart of the idea For some neoliberal economists with grand ideas, it is in itself that parachuting cannot fix a country. Others also say that the idea itself New colony.
Jason HickelEconomic anthropologist and author of “The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions” In fact, the closest model to charter cities is the free trade zone. It does almost nothing to improve the actual development results. “

“Wages tend to be lower than in the homeland, labor standards are worse and (and) environmental regulations do not exist,” he said. “This is ideal for patterns of accumulation by foreign capital, but not good for national development.”

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New Hong Kong?

“Next Police” founder Go told CNN that he has been working on the idea for an Irish-Hong Kong “charter city” since last year, when anti-government unrest shaken Hong Kong and considered many to leave. But he It was reported that he was pushing ahead with his plans, The Irish government is less sensitive.

In a statement, the Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that “according to the initial approach in December 2019, the department had limited contact with Ko,” and that it did not take “additional action” on the matter.

At first I was happy to have a conversation, but Ko stopped communicating in July. Multiple students in the same month People accused of “withdrawal” have been arrested under new security laws. Imposed on the city by Beijing. Mr. Go’s plan was supported by many as a potential solution to those who are wary of the law.

And if anything comes true, it would be a radically reduced version of Ko’s original vision. According to a version of the plan leaked to the London Times, he originally proposed a settlement of 500,000 people. His latest plans are for 15,000 villages, smaller than some of Hong Kong’s housing complexes. According to The Times, officials expressed concern about securing the land needed for a city of the size he initially proposed.

Ko is this Potential solution Hong Kong’s current political crisis. However, these proposals nod to Romer’s idea, but in reality it will be a very different beast. Ireland is clearly not a developing country and there is no possibility that the Hong Kong government will support the construction of a new settlement.

However, Hong Kong is a fascinating example for city advocates who exist within one country but govern themselves differently. Many believe that this model could be moved to other continents, replacing China with Ireland or Britain, with the same economic success. Hong Kong has it for decades.

First chartered city

Sam Bowman, head of competition policy at the International Center for Law & Economics, in his recent essay “Let’s Build Hong Kong 2.0 Here in the UK”, “Charter City supporters want to imitate the success of Hong Kong and Singapore.”

However, Charter City supporters are often guilty of ignoring other less-tasting issues, picking out the traits of their favorite cities and pointing them out as a cause of development. Bowman and Etc Also, historical thinking has made Hong Kong what it is today, and as a result, the complex economic structure will be difficult to replicate.

Hong Kong came out of colonial rule. The UK managed a small part of what was formerly Chinese territory until 1997, gaining its existing legal foothold and governance expertise.

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Liberal economist Milton Friedman said that under British territory, Hong Kong is “a little lab experimentation of what happens when governments are limited to proper functioning and allow people to pursue their goals freely,” but the reality is not that simple.

But when Friedman made these remarks in the 1980s Recorded Hong Kong has grown rapidly into a manufacturing hub thanks to sportswear stores where immigrants from China work. The city is also increasingly emerging as a tax haven and financial center that is well separated and connected to the global monetary system to evade regulation.

And for all the stories of Hong Kong’s former freedom, the Chinese didn’t have much political representation until the end of the 20th century.

“Without democracy, it’s very easy to have a free market liberal haven,” said Sam Wetherell, an urban history expert. At York University.
The legacy of that system can be seen in Hong Kong, one of the most unequal societies today. On earth, Low wage and Stratosphere rent Many people are forced to live in small apartments or so-called “my homes”, sharing small, much-divided spaces with dozens of others. The city also relies heavily on a class of low-wage migrant workers. Forced to live with an employer Earn less than what is already low Minimum wage $4.80 per hour.

John Mok, a scholar at the University of California, Irvine, who studies Hong Kong, said Western thinkers “always constitute Hong Kong as an economic liberal city with good liberal values.”

“We Hong Kongers are well aware that the gap between rich and poor is very wide,” he said.

supply and demand

Hong Kong may have something to do with the concept of an international charter city, but building a “new Hong Kong” for immigrants from other countries is a distinct departure from the original concept.

The “new Hong Kong” model willingly accept thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Ireland or other governments, rather than building charter cities within developing countries to accommodate existing populations in need of jobs and opportunities. Immigrants on the basis that the proposed city will bring economic benefits.

In order to sell this idea, many supporters have turned Hong Kong people into economic dynamos, often escaping into racial territories for “industrious Asians.”

Write on the whole bodyDaniel Hannan, former conservative politician and Brexiter, urged Britain to autonomously Hong Kong because immigrants “will bring their own wealth, and when they arrive, they will create economic activity for the surrounding area.” , Like they did in their hometown. “
Elsewhere Bloomberg Editorial Board and Australian Government Secretary We also talked about the potential benefits of Hong Kong immigrants.

But Yang Yang Cheng, a Chinese-American scientist, said, “The sparkling phrase is not a compliment, it’s inhuman.”

“The dominant rhetoric of Western countries emphasizes economic selfishness beyond humanitarian principles.” wrote. “They paint a caricature of a population in Hong Kong where the poor and deprived people are never part of the picture where the value of life is defined by productivity.”

Wealthy and highly educated immigrants can benefit the countries they migrate to. These comments ignore the fact that a huge percentage of Hong Kong’s population is suffering from a wealth gap and overlook the reality that new cities may not offer the same. Economic opportunities as their home.

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“By portraying Hong Kongers as’right’ immigrants different from migrants on the US-Mexico border or refugees across the Mediterranean, Western lawmakers see Asian cities as their political theaters. “They claim the role of human rights advocates by pretending to be solidarity while advocating racism and xenophobia policies at home.”

Also, it is not necessarily clear that as the Charter City proposal requires, many Hong Kongers will migrate to northeastern Ireland or to less populated areas in the UK.

York University’s Wetherell said that despite his promise to somehow recreate the Hong Kong system in Ireland or England, the relationship to any particular place is “much deeper than the similarities of physical buildings, economic models or tax systems.” . .

“Ireland is not Hong Kong, it has a different climate and a different world,” he said. “Rebuilding Hong Kong’s skyline in Ireland (even if it could) would not be the same.”

With colleagues Survey of Hong Kongers wanting to move abroad, Taiwan’s autonomous island was overwhelmingly the first choice, pointing out the shared culture and history, and the proximity of the island to Hong Kong.

A 28-year-old lawyer who was planning to immigrate told CNN that he was also leaning towards Taiwan. He loved the idea of ​​building a new Hong Kong, but said he had “never thought seriously” about Ireland.

“I’ve been there once in two weeks. It’s a nice place, but I don’t know much about it,” he said anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject. “A lot of Hong Kong people already live in Canada and the United States or Taiwan, and a mini community of Hong Kong people is already there. I’m not sure if Ireland is the same.”

CNN’s Jadyn Sham contributed to the report.

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About the Author: Mortimer Nelson

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