Hong Kong Part 2


I have returned from my trip to Hong Kong. The 13 hour time difference resulted in a prolonged adjustment—when I was there in the 80’s, I was in my twenties and more flexible with these changes! Now in my sixties, I am still adjusting after a week.

Hong Kong was every bit as exciting as I remembered. It’s still an international city, but with the British gone, it feels more Chinese. There has been overwhelming growth in China, but Hong Kong remains a Special Administrative Region, retaining freedoms and open door business policies found nowhere else in China. This is only changing gradually, but the current trade war between China and the US has given rise to some legal issues.


Arriving in Hong Kong, I required no visa because of the city’s legal status, so I whisked so rapidly through customs and immigration, it didn’t feel like entering a foreign country at all—there are more obstacles taking NYC transit on any given day! Then a high speed train to Central on Hong Kong Island and a short cab ride to the Midlands, an area on the side of a mountain, and I arrived at my Airbnb destination, a peaceful apartment in what reminded me of the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Now, that is the way I remember the freest port in all of the world! But soon I would see hints of change.

I gave a presentation to the Rotary Club of Kowloon and got a wonderful reception. I shared a photograph of me in 1985 giving a presentation to the same club; the first billionaire I met then in Hong Kong is still alive and well. It was a very cordial meeting all round.

Later that week, I met with some fellow alumni from NYU Stern Business School. I was surprised to see that the “Power Lunch” was focused on a Real Estate Investment Trust portfolio manager who comes from Hong Kong but is now investing in China. I asked her if she would recommend investing in other growth areas of Asia, but I got a terse response that she might go on vacation to Vietnam but she wouldn’t put her money there.

Then the coordinator of the group fielded questions from the audience and asked questions of the real estate investment manager for the youthful alumni who attended the lunch. At one point the issue of China came up and he responded that if you don’t want to deal with China you can move to the US or Europe.

He seemed to want to make it very clear that Hong Kong is part of China and that any ideas of freedom or democracy should not be entertained in this territory. Now to some it may seem obvious to say this but I realized that the people in Hong Kong who would entertain ideas of freedom are in the age group of this audience. He was warning them not to entertain any ideas that China is not in control.

I next made a presentation at the Hong Kong Banker’s Club, an interesting mix of people and a substantially younger crowd. I almost miscalculated the day as all my appointments were pushed forward a day by crossing the international date line. At the end of my presentation I was asked which regions would I invest in to get the highest Rate of Return of the US, Asia and Europe. I warned them that buying companies for the long term and not only regions is the best way to invest. I did say that of the three regions, I would pick Asia and the United States and lighten up on Europe due to their current economic and political difficulties. Well, there I go doing the impossible of projecting into the future. I will keep you posted!