Wan Lik Hang

China News 22nd February 2021

Has the Hong Kong Stock Exchange become ‘international’ after appointing a foreigner to become the CEO? 

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange announced on February 9 that it had appointed Nicolas Aguzin, who is from Argentine, holds a Croatian passport, and has permanent resident status in Hong Kong, to replace Charles Li as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). At a moment when the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, “backed by China and facing the world”, is at a new stage in its history, many commentators worry that the newcomer, who does not speak Chinese and does not understand national policies, may not be the best candidate.

The person responsible for the selection, the chairman of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Laura Cha, explained that the Hong Kong Stock Exchange needs to be more internationalized in the development of its bond market and derivatives business.  She believes that his qualifications and background can play a major role in the internationalization of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. 

I have to say that Ms Cha’s statement is quite interesting.  In her eyes, “Westernization” is equivalent to “internationalization” or even “modernization”.  It feels as if Hong Kong opens a few more “Lan Kwai Fong, districts” which are often visited by foreigners, or to invite a few more “Mathesons” to serve as university presidents (Matheson was the president of the University of Hong Kong), and it instantly became international. 

Internationalization is not the same as Westernization.   In fact, the key to whether the Hong Kong Stock Exchange can further internationalize is not whether the CEO is a foreigner, but whether it can grasp the historic mission, opportunities, and challenges of “relying on China and facing the world”.  The best candidate for the CEO depends on whether he or she can lead the Hong Kong Stock Exchange through the wind and waves. 

The world’s political and economic landscape has undergone major change.  China’s prospects for financialization have driven Hong Kong to reshape itself as an international financial centre.  It should not be only “international Hong Kong”, but also become “China’s International Hong Kong”. What kind of financial centre Hong Kong will become depends on how the Hong Kong Stock Exchange will expand reforms and develop.  Whether it will surpass the London Stock Exchange and the NYSE to become the world’s largest exchange is open. Therefore, how to re-establish the role of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange has a long way to go.  

by Jimmy Chan

It is more complicated than just how this financial market allows investors to make a lot of money.  

It is undeniable that from the perspective of background and qualifications, the new CEO’s track record is brilliant, and his management ability is obvious to all.   Some commentators believe that, if the Hong Kong Stock Exchange still has ambitions to acquire the London Stock Exchange, Aguzin will be able to take advantage of it.  However, does this mean that he is the best candidate for the CEO of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange? Even if he can become an excellent CEO of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange as Charles Li said, does it mean that he can push the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to open a new chapter in history? 

The market is worried that if the CEO does not understand Chinese, does not understand national policies, and does not understand Hong Kong, he may not realize that Hong Kong’s status as the only financial centre outside China has been elevated to the level of national strategy.   Upgrading is important for Hong Kong to give full play to its advantages, contribute to the country, and create greater glories. 

However, looking at his rare China and Hong Kong comments, Aguzin is not ignorant of China.  For example, he looks forward to the development of China and believes that the mainland will gradually open the financial industry. He said, “all sectors have exciting opportunities.” Including securities, private banking, mergers, acquisitions.  He is also optimistic about mainland technology companies, predicting that one-quarter of the world’s top 500 companies in the next 10 years will come from the mainland.  China’s innovation in individual fields will even lead the world.   He does not think China must follow the western development model or the pace of democracy.  He even asserts that China will never become the United States, because China has its own democratic model and capitalist model. 

However, does this mean that he really understands China and Hong Kong? Charles Li, who was educated overseas just like Aguzin, is recognized by the outside world as an example of understanding national policy, understanding Hong Kong, and possessing a sense of innovation.  To be fair, as a member of the financial elite in Hong Kong, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s vision of further internationalization in Hong Kong is biased towards the traditional perspective.  She may think that “Westernization” is equivalent to “internationalization” or even “modernization”.  If this is the case, it would be narrow; and if the top level of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is dominated by this kind of thinking, then I am afraid that it will not help Hong Kong’s “true internationalization” much. Many native Hong Kong people still do not understand “one country, two systems”. National strategy is not clear, and the “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” has not yet been done well.  Whether the new CEO will have a sense of reform and whether it can lead the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to ride the wind and waves to a new level remains to be seen. 

Source: zaobao.com.

Next, we have some health advice from a well-known Chinese medicine practitioner.  Some of the feeling and some of the cures will be familiar to many people from nay parts of the world!

With the arrival of the Lunar New Year, the people welcome it with joy. However, Chinese Medicine Practitioners remind us that the beginning of spring is the time when the liver ‘qi’ is most vigorous.  The liver is closely related to the spleen and stomach. During Chinese New Year, we must get ‘fit’ before facing a lot of fish and meat. 

“Liver Protection Plan”

A director of Chinese Medicine, Guo Dawei, posted a video on Facebook, Guo Dawei points out that the liver governs regulating energy; this is related to emotions.  A strong liver qi can cause emotional instability; excessive liver qi can also easily violate the spleen and stomach causing symptoms such as flatulence, constipation or stomach pain.

by Daria Shevtsova

Guo Dawei shared several dietary tips: 

1. Don’t eat too oily food; it can cause constipation 

2. Don’t eat too many sticky things, such as rice cakes, dumplings, and pig’s feet. 

3. Reduce the consumption of spicy foods, such as onions, ginger, and garlic, which can cause gastrointestinal discomfort. 

4. Drink chrysanthemum, wolfberry, and red date tea cold or hot to relieve greasiness, clearing out the liver, and protecting it.

5. Eat more vegetables: You can eat more celery, spinach, and mustard greens. In addition, onions have the effect of stimulating the spleen. 

Guo Dawei reminded us that lots of fish and meat are indispensable during the Chinese New Year. If the stomach is uncomfortable, you can drink a drink containing hawthorn, cassia seed or lotus leaf, or massage around the belly button clockwise. This can also invigorate the spleen, promote hydration, and reduce swelling. 

Source: zaobao.com.

On January 16, 2004, the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China officially opened to the outside world and revealed some interesting reports.

1. The author of one of them was a well-known American journalist Edgar Snow. Edgar Snow was one of the most legendary journalists of the 20th century.  He boldly and accurately predicted the outbreak of the Soviet-German War and the outbreak of the US-Japan Pacific War. 

by Steve Harvey 

On April 9, 1949, this legendary reporter published “Will China Become a Satellite State of the Soviet Union?” in the US “Saturday Evening Post”.  Snow predicted:

China will become a great country under the Communist Party’s governance, not following the Moscow baton.

This prediction was shocking at the time. But later history proved that his prediction became reality again. So, was this just Snow’s luck, or a historical accident?  What kind of intriguing message did Sino-Soviet relations in 1949 reveal?  Following are some possible explanations.  

2. Truman abandoned Chiang Kai-shek In January 1949 when the War of Liberation entered its third year. The million person People’s Liberation Army was waiting and was ready to send its troops south to take Nanjing. In the face of this defeat, on January 8, the Nanjing National Government submitted a memorandum to the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and France, hoping that the four countries would come forward to mediate in the civil war and achieve peace talks between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. 

In fact, the so-called peace talks of the Nationalist Government were designed to launch a peaceful offensive to achieve partition between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party, in exchange for breathing time and a comeback in the future. 

Mao Zedong could clearly see the intention of Chiang Kai-shek. Therefore, when the National Government released the smokescreen of peace, the CCP had already made up its mind and refused the peace talks. 

Who could have imagined that at this moment, Truman in Washington and Stalin in Moscow had different voices?  In fact, as early as 1948, the United States was utterly disappointed with Chiang Kai-shek. The U.S. Officer’s Advisory Group’s report to the White House pointed out:

This regime is already corrupt, and it is very likely to fail.

Subsequently, Truman terminated his assistance to Chiang Kai-shek.   The most important strategic consideration for the United States was how to deal with the future relationship with the CCP and the Soviet Union. 

Therefore, Truman made the decision to extend an olive branch to the CCP and made it clear that he would not participate in the mediation proposed by the Kuomintang. This decision was based on USA national strategy, trying to preserve its interests in China, imagining that it could still enjoy the privileges it had in the old China.  At the same time, the United States was only trying to contact the CCP, and not completely betting on the Chinese side. It was also looking for new agents within the Kuomintang. 

Truman admitted that his China policy had failed while trying to contact the CCP. Stalin did exactly the opposite. 

3. The intriguing Stalin 

The day after the Soviet Union received the note from the National Government, Stalin got in touch with Chairman Mao. The telegram pointed out that the purpose of the National Government was to declare to the world that the Nanjing government was in favour of peace. If the CCP “directly refuses to negotiate with Nanjing, it is to declare to the world that it advocates direct civil war.” Therefore, Stalin suggested that Chairman Mao should agree to the National Government’s request for peace talks. 

In fact, Stalin was very clear that the Communist Party did not want peace talks. However, he still hoped to mediate.  Stalin’s intentions are clear.  The Americans were determined to contact the Communist Party directly.  This was Stalin’s biggest worry. 

Flag of the Soviet Union

Once the United States contacted and controlled the Communist Party of China, the Soviet Union may lose China, and may even lose the entire Far East.  The Nationalist government’s proposal of peace talks gave Stalin an excellent opportunity to control the situation. The suggestions made by Stalin greatly upset Chairman Mao.  For historical reasons, Chairman Mao directly pointed out: “I oppose the mediation of any foreign forces and oppose the CCP’s participation in any form of negotiation.” 

The sharp words are rare from Chairman Mao. 

Chairman Mao’s hard-line attitude surprised Stalin and embarrassed him. No one had ever dared to violate his will so bluntly.  After thought, Stalin softened his attitude and called Chairman Mao again, stating that the Soviet Union would not intervene in mediation. But Stalin’s statement did not mean that he had given up trying to control the situation.  However, after many telegrams, Stalin realized that Chairman Mao was not an opponent he could control.  The new China to be established would not become a satellite state of the Soviet Union like Eastern Europe. 

4. Chairman Mao’s “Leaning to One Side” 

On July 1, 1949, Chairman Mao announced that the new China will “lean to one side” – to the socialist camp headed by the Soviet Union. As soon as the news broke, the angry American government immediately recalled its Ambassador and the ties between the CCP and the United States were cut off.  Stalin, who lost to Chairman Mao previously, seems to have regained another round.  But this is not the case.

 At that time, the New China had not yet been established, the domestic situation was complicated, and it was at a time when everything was left to waste. Considering ideological and geopolitical factors, Chairman Mao rejected the olive branch thrown by the United States and chose to “lean on one side” to the Soviet Union. This is in the national interest of China. 

by Karolina Grabowska

The so-called “goodwill” of the United States was based on the recognition of past unequal treaties by New China. In the face of such “goodwill”, China would remain a semi-colonial country. Moreover, if it falls to the United States, the newly reborn China will face a serious threat from its strong neighbour in the north. Therefore, the Soviet Union became the only option for China to resume development and obtain international assistance. Therefore, Chairman Mao forgot all the Soviet interventions; forgot the indifference and betrayal of the Soviet Union during the 1946 Kuomintang-Communist peace talks; forgot Stalin’s repeated rejection of his request to visit the Soviet Union; forgot the move of the Soviet Embassy to go south to Guangzhou; forgot the prejudice against Stalin.   After Liu Shaoqi visited the Soviet Union, Stalin agreed to almost all the requests China made.  Although Chairman Mao repeatedly emphasized the “lean to one side” policy of New China to the socialist camp headed by the Soviet Union, this did not mean that Chairman Mao would succumb to Stalin.  

The confrontation between Chairman Mao and Stalin had just begun.   Truman would also send assistance.  In Chairman Mao’s visit to the Soviet Union, a major historical event that affected the 20th century, Stalin truly appreciated the strength of the Chairman.

Source: history.ifeng.com.

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