Sunday, 14 June 2020

We went to Macau…

… in early January, before the pandemic panic. Son J and wife J and I took the bus over the world’s longest bridge to Macau. First time to Macao in maybe twenty years.
Apart from a break away for all of us, we thought we might look at some property to buy.
Getting here is a cinch. From our place it’s a twenty minute cab ride to the huuuge bus station cum immigration area, which has exactly, like, two other people and a dog. No, not the dog. This is before any lockdowns and before anyone was thinking about the coronavirus so this was just your average day at the bus station. “Over designed” comes to mind.
On the bus. 40 minutes later and were at Macau. Cab ride to the Marriott.
Door to door, Hong Kong to Macau, a bit over an hour.
Next day the agent takes a us around to look at the best she has to offer. One side of the city to the other is 40 minutes. We see places, the best they have, that are pretty crappy compared with HK that get me grouchy and J has to apologise for my rudeness.
We agree there’s nothing property-wise for us in Macau.
And I’m reminded how small it is. And how much it relies on gamblers, as our hotel, its casino, and all around, are Chinese higher rollers.
The food is great. Our hotel has a “Beijing Kitchen“ that serves the best Peking Duck I’ve ever had. But all-up Macau is tiny and a bit meaningless.
I’m reminded of all this because David Dodwell has an article countering the “death of Hong Kong” memes. And if I’ve been a bit gloomy about Hong Kong myself, I’d rather try to look in the positive side. I believe it’s true that Beijing does not wish to deliberately harm Hong Kong’s prosperity. I’ve always thought that if they did harm it would be by incompetence than design. So the hope is they are not incompetent.
Here’s David on Macau:
The “Macau as a financial services hub” thesis barely deserves a serious response. Its tiny economy – about one-tenth of Hong Kong’s – has a population of just 650,000, and a total workforce of barely 400,000 with half of these employed in the gambling and related sectors.
By comparison, out of Hong Kong’s 3.9 million workforce, around 850,000 are employed in finance, insurance and professional services – yes, more than twice Macau’s total workforce.…
Even more fundamentally, proponents of the “Macau as a new financial hub” thesis ignore a critical question: if Hong Kong’s massive community of financial, legal and accounting professionals underpinning what is today the world’s fourth-largest financial centre are about to take flight because of the imminent introduction of a security law, why should they move 65km (40 miles) to a city that has had a Beijing-approved security law in place since 2009?