Surfeit of ‘Belt and Road’ hysteria prompts exodus from HK

Big Lychee, Various Sectors

In the late 1940s, did creepy-looking national leaders spout endless praise for the Marshall Plan? Did international officials line up to regurgitate slogans on the magnificence of the vision? Did oily grovelers repeatedly and obsessively insist that it created innumerable ‘opportunities’ for everyone, everywhere?

No. By many/most accounts, the post-war effort to kick-start West European economies was relatively light on hype, save for what we would now see as some fear-mongering about the Communist threat. By the time of the Korean War in the early 50s, the US stimulus had done its job, and Europe’s economic miracle and 30 glorious years were underway.

The point is: if something is amazingly wonderful and beneficial, you don’t have to go around frantically demanding that other people know and believe it. The constant hard-sell is not convincing. It’s not cool. And it’s amazingly annoying.

And so I begin my two-week Filial Piety Tour, far away (hopefully) from incessant and overbearing Belt and Road blather.

One last task before leaving – hand over keys and sign final papers for the sale of the Soho apartment. The scummy redevelopment parasite purchasers Richfield conclude the deal by putting a tatty seal over the door. I would like to say that after 25 years, I leave the neighbourhood in better shape than I found it, but it has been (and still is) a textbook example of gentrification, and more lately touristification. As the few, mainly elderly, holdouts in my old building have gleefully noticed, the more phony and plastic and nouveau-trashy the area gets, the more the redevelopers pay to get you to move.

The big irony is that once the crappification process is complete, the locality becomes featureless. And at the same time, the Central Business District – whose proximity is the driving force behind the uplift in real-estate values – is also becoming hollowed out in terms of charm (or something).

More and more grey, stone-faced, indistinguishable Mainland mega-companies are buying and renting vast amounts of downtown office space, in which to conduct their indecipherable and unknowable Mandarin-speaking, simplified-character (maybe disreputable-character) commercial activities. And the hip and groovy foreign firms are transplanting their bright, fun-filled trendiness and jollity over to Quarry Bay. All that money, effort and time – just to create an expanse of soullessness.

The next two weeks or so will take place on the Twitter thing, if at all.