This week’s news has stories about elections in Hong Kong, Hong Kong’s advantage for the future and an assessment of how the Taliban might be able to run Afghanistan successfully.
Huang Liuquan, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, was asked whether he would support the re-election of Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
After the reunification, there have been several elections for the Chief Executive, and every time society focused on the individual. For example, in 2012, Leung and Tang competed for the chief executive post. Some people believed that the former was a wolf, or the latter was a pig, which meant that they focused on their personal characteristics. To please the public is to focus on personal background and dealing with others.
However, if asked about the policies supported by the above-mentioned politicians, many people could not answer. In the process of discussing the rulers of Hong Kong, not many people will seriously and conscientiously examine what problems Hong Kong is facing and what methods should be used to solve them.
This is not a phenomenon just unique to Hong Kong. In the 21st century, elections are becoming more and more image projects, and politicians are becoming more and more populist. Some people equate democracy with elections, thinking that with elections, there will be democracy and society will be well. But elections are only a form of democracy, and who should be elected is the real issue of how to govern society. As the leader of Hong Kong, the Chief Executive must grasp the problems of society and have solutions to the problems.
In fact, the four criteria of the Chief Executive, include the ability to govern, including being good at solving housing, employment, medical care problems, and the disparity between the rich and the poor. It is important that the CE is aware of what the citizens think, anxious about what the citizens want, alleviating the difficulties of the citizens, always sticking to the grassroots and being down-to-earth show that the focus of finding the next Chief Executive in Hong Kong must be problem-solving-oriented.
The election of the Election Committee will be held in less than a month, and the sixth Hong Kong Chief Executive will be elected in half a year. Naturally, more and more people in society are paying attention to who will be the next Chief Executive. But more than “who will be the chief executive”, what we need to think about is what kind of leadership and policies Hong Kong needs. Hong Kong needs to connect ideas together. The idea of Beijing’s 14th Five-Year Plan is to “promote the common prosperity of all people”, “comprehensive social progress”, and “satisfy the public for a better life.” If those who govern Hong Kong cannot use these values as a guide, how can we lead the society toward the goal? How can people who only have slogans and lack fundamental ideas lead Hong Kong with good governance?
Hong Kong’s unique opportunities
The ‘romantic’ era of the global industrial chain and supply chain that Hong Kong and the Mainland were familiar with in the past is over. The slowing down of China and the reshaping of the supply chain industry have become facts. Hong Kong is affected.
“According to the forecast of the International Monetary Fund, the global economic growth rate will reach 6% this year.” A central forecaster said, “This is the world’s highest economic growth rate in 40 years.” Zhang explained that China and the United States, as economic giants, will drive the global economy, which is recovering vigorously, but there is a lot of uncertainty in this growth rate, because the economic stimulus between the two countries is very different. The most powerful macroeconomic policies adopted by the United States and other countries are increasing the impact on inflation. And the tolerance of fiscal deficits, increasing cracking down on monopolies and regulating the market, and strengthening the pursuit of supply chain security and industrial policies may have spill over effects on global economic growth.
Suppression of China is the core theme of the White House, whether it is the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.
Professor Deng Xiwei of the School of Economics and Business Administration of the University of Hong Kong predicted that the Sino-US struggle should last for ten years. Hong Kong is even more unable to stand alone.
The world supply chain in the past was a big triangle. The United States and Europe provided the world with technology and key components; East Asia provided the world with manufacturing and labour; the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America provided the world with energy and resources. The old pattern is changing. New trends are emerging in the world of eastward shift of demand, eastward supply, eastward shift of innovation, eastward shift of services, and eastward shift of capital and financial cooperation.
‘One country, two systems’ is Hong Kong’s biggest advantage, say experts. The mainland’s economic prosperity is the biggest opportunity for Hong Kong’s development. As Hu Zhaohui, deputy director of the Development Strategy and Planning Department of the National Development and Reform Commission, said:
Hong Kong is both familiar with the domestic market environment and familiar with the prevailing international rules; not only can it become an important participant in the domestic big cycle, but it also plays a role as a bridge between the domestic and international cycles, and become an important promoter.
Hong Kong should take the initiative and strengthen its supply of high-quality services and products to meet the increasing domestic consumer demand. The mainland has a vast market and escalating consumer demand, which will serve as a major advantage for Hong Kong companies. And Hong Kong products provide greater market space.
Take science and technology as an example. Basic research is a major shortcoming in China’s development of national science and technology.
Hong Kong happens to have excellent basic research resources. It is believed that as the integration of cities in the Greater Bay Area becomes closer, the barriers to capital flow will be cleared. If a sound scientific research platform is established, Hong Kong’s basic research can directly contribute to the country’s scientific and technological development, and national scientific research funding will continue to flow to Hong Kong.
In terms of international circulation, Hong Kong will become an important force for the country to restructure the Asian supply chain by virtue of its inextricably linked relations with ASEAN countries.
China’s determination to promote green transformation has caused drastic changes in production methods, economic operations, and even lifestyles, but it has also brought huge funding gaps. For example, the Governor of the People’s Bank of China, Yi Gang, stated on many occasions that to achieve carbon neutrality and neutralise carbon emissions, hundreds of billions of yuan of capital investment will be required, and many financial institutions have also budgeted that more than investment in infrastructure alone will be required.
The SAR government this year launched the “Roadmap for the Popularization of Electric Vehicles in Hong Kong” and decided to stop registration of fuel vehicles before 2035. Local public transport is also actively implementing a green transformation.
Hong Kong, which has a well-developed financial market and can take the leading role in advancing the development of green finance.
The riches of Afghanistan
With the withdrawal of the last plane carrying US troops from Kabul, the 20-year war in Afghanistan came to an end. The Taliban’s achieving power was almost a foregone conclusion. The next challenge is how it will handle relations with the international community. On this issue, perhaps Afghanistan’s unique natural resources can help.
Good governance does not depend on guns alone, but funds are the most important bargaining chip in international negotiations. At present, the international community has almost completely interrupted all legitimate sources of Taliban funds: the United States has frozen over 9 billion U.S. dollars in assets of the Central Bank of Afghanistan, including 21.9 tons of gold stored in the Federal Reserve. It also announced the suspension of aid to Afghanistan. In addition, the Taliban is on the sanctions list of the U.S. Treasury Department. So, after it took power, it will be even more difficult to absorb foreign investment to maintain economic operations.
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. More than 90% of its citizens have an average daily income of less than US$2. However, the undulating mountains of Afghanistan are rich in mineral resources. In 2010, a joint study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Defence pointed out that the total value of mineral resources in Afghanistan is as high as one trillion U.S. dollars.
These mineral resources include lithium and cobalt, elements that are necessary raw materials for the manufacture of reusable batteries and energy storage systems. For example, the production of an electric vehicle requires an average of six times the use of various types of minerals than traditional fuel vehicles.
In May of this year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) pointed out that the global supply of lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel and rare earths must be substantially increased to help mankind deal with the imminent climate crisis.
Afghanistan may be one of the countries with the largest reserves of green mineral resources in the world. According to the calculation of the US military, the total reserves of potential lithium mines in the province of Ghazni alone are comparable to those of Bolivia, the country with the largest known reserves of lithium ore in the world. The U.S. Geological Survey also estimates that Helmand Province has rare earth reserves as much as 1.1 million to 1.4 million metric tons.
In fact, the Taliban themselves also know the advantages of Afghanistan’s natural resources. After entering Kabul, they took the initiative to shout to the world that Afghanistan has rich mineral resources such as lithium and is willing to cooperate with other countries in the development of related industries. The intention behind it, naturally is the recognition of the Taliban by the international community.
However, despite the wealth of mineral resources, there are no modern infrastructure facilities and mining management experience. A writer mentioned in the article “The Diplomat” that in the special political environment of Afghanistan, corruption and bribery have become a common practice, and the income from minerals can easily be misappropriated by warlords to fund battles. Even the mining area itself has become a battlefield where warlords compete against each other. Even outside the valuable mining areas, the rest of the country is full of murderous intent.
Given time, if the Taliban successfully maintains its regime, can these resources be properly used to truly improve the lives and well-being of the people? It is a big question mark.