NYT Celebrates Occupy's Attack on 'Unfettered Capitalism' in Hong Kong....But Does It Actually Exist There?

Still more cheerleading for the Occupy Movement in the New York Times, this time on the Business page. Neil Gough's article Tuesday on the Hong Kong Occupy movement was promoted from the online Dealbook section: "Court Allows Occupy Hong Kong To Continue Its Protest, for Now." The text box: "A wealth gap creates disenchantment with a capitalist ideal." But could undemocratic Chinese rule and socialist collusion between big business and the state also have something to do with the "disenchantment" in Hong Kong?

As global movements against capitalism go, the members of Occupy Hong Kong have demonstrated surprising staying power.

If ever there was a city where pure or considerably unfettered capitalism has approached its logical end, surely Hong Kong is it. The city is home to more billionaires than popularly elected legislators. It has more Cartier, Gucci, Hermès and Louis Vuitton boutiques than Hong Kong Island has hospitals or post offices. Buddhism and Taoism are the main religions here, but bank branches outnumber temples by more than two to one.

“In Hong Kong, if you don’t follow the rules set by big corporations and big capitalism, you just cannot survive,” said Tiv Wong, a young publishing industry freelancer who has been active in the Occupy movement.


But a look at the wealth gap in Hong Kong indicates how the idea of the Occupy movement has captured a degree of support.

Hong Kong’s boom throughout much of the previous century was driven by waves of immigration from mainland China. Behind nearly every tycoon’s fortune in the former British colony is a version of a rags-to-riches tale that had woven itself into the city’s ethos by the time it was handed back to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

But disenchantment with this dream has grown in recent years as the wealth gap has widened, property prices have soared and average citizens have become increasingly priced out, in many cases by well-heeled investors and visitors from the Chinese mainland. The average home price is around 13 times the median annual household income.

Gough doesn't mention how Communist Chinese authoritarianism might be coloring pereception of collusion between "big business" and "an undemocratically elected government," which has little to do with Gough's claim of "pure or...unfettered capitalism" and is far more akin to state corporatism or socialism. The Economist magazine touted up market interventions in Hong King and marked the end of the area's laissez-faire experiment in 2010. Tens of thousands marched through the streets in favor of democracy three weeks ago, on the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to Beijing. But Gough's focus is on "big business."

At the same time, a growing reaction against perceived collusion between big business and an undemocratically elected government has sent demonstrators into the streets. Hundreds of thousands marched in an annual pro-democracy rally on July 1 and, in smaller numbers, the Occupy protesters have gathered supporters.