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Este blog trata basicamente de ideias, se possível inteligentes, para pessoas inteligentes. Ele também se ocupa de ideias aplicadas à política, em especial à política econômica. Ele constitui uma tentativa de manter um pensamento crítico e independente sobre livros, sobre questões culturais em geral, focando numa discussão bem informada sobre temas de relações internacionais e de política externa do Brasil. Para meus livros e ensaios ver o website: www.pralmeida.org.

Mostrando postagens com marcador Hong Kong. Mostrar todas as postagens
Mostrando postagens com marcador Hong Kong. Mostrar todas as postagens

sexta-feira, 18 de agosto de 2017

O "milagre" de Hong-Kong e o seu autor - livro biografia sobre John Cowperthwaite

Na verdade, não tem nenhum milagre. Apenas Adam Smith aplicado na prática, e constantemente.
Muito tempos antes que o World Economic Forum ou o Insead, ou a Heritage Foundation e o Fraser Institute, começassem a fazer os seus rankings e classificações de liberdade econômica, de competitividade, de bom ambiente para negócios, Milton Friedman já tinha detectado o sucesso que era e estava se tornando Hong Kong, um monte de pedras, algumas ilhas, que não tinham absolutamente nada em cima, a não ser uma boa localização no sul da China, perto do enclave português, bem mais antigo, que era Macau.
Pois bem: depois que a colônia inglesa (que tinha sido atribuída à Grã Bretanha por cem anos, de acordo com os tratados desiguais do século XIX) foi libertada da dominação japonesa ao final da Segunda Guerra -- um dos que ficaram presos ali foi o militar Charles Boxer, futuro historiador do império marítimo português -- sua renda per capita era menos da metade da renda per capita da metrópole. Bem antes da colônia ser devolvida à China, a renda já tinha ultrapassado a da metrópole, e atualmente é mais de 30% superior, e isso a despeito, desde os anos 1950 (pós-revolução comunista no continente), de um afluxo constante de refugiados e emigrados de várias partes da Ásia, buscando simplesmente liberdade para empreender, pessoas miseráveis, chegando sem qualquer pertence, muitas delas dormindo em cortiços na cidade (que ainda existem) ou em sampans no rio ou na sua embocadura. São essas pessoas miseráveis que criaram a riqueza de Hong Kong, como aliás dizia Adam Smith, seguida pelo administrador inglês da colônia, o homem que criou a sua prosperidade, e que é objeto desta biografia resenhada nesta matéria.
O que dizia Adam Smith, além da sua famosa frase sobre a "mão invisível", que muitos equivocadamente elevam à condição de teoria, quando é uma simpes imagem. Adam Smith disse o seguinte:

Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things. All governments which thwart this natural course, which force things into another channel, or which endeavor to arrest the progress of society at a particular point, are unnatural, and to support themselves are obliged to be oppressive and tyrannical.

E não venham me dizer que esses princípios só se aplicam em situações especiais, em países pequenos, em cidades-Estado, como Cingapura e Hong-Kong, justamente.
Não: princípios de governo se aplicam em quaisquer circunstâncias, qualquer que seja o tamanho do país, por mais pobre que ele seja. O Brasil podia aprender com isso.
Elementar, não é?

Paulo Roberto de Almeida​
Brasília, 18 de agosto de 2017


The man behind the Hong Kong miracle



I have just finished reading Neil Monnery’s new book, Architect of Prosperity: Sir John Cowperthwaite and the Making of Hong Kong. This fascinating account of the rise of Hong Kong as a global economic powerhouse is well written and, as such, easy to read and understand. I’m happy to recommend it wholeheartedly to CapX’s discerning readership.
I first became interested in the story of Hong Kong in the late 1990s. The emotional handover of the colony from the United Kingdom to China, for example, is deeply impressed on my memory. But also, as part of my doctoral research at the University of St Andrews, I read a number of essays about the rise of Hong Kong written by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. Friedman, an advocate of the free market and small government, believed that individuals, when left unmolested, will strive to improve their lives and those of their families. Prosperity will follow.
His was similar to Adam Smith’s insight:
“Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things. All governments which thwart this natural course, which force things into another channel, or which endeavor to arrest the progress of society at a particular point, are unnatural, and to support themselves are obliged to be oppressive and tyrannical.”
No country in modern history has come as close to Smith’s ideal as Hong Kong. The territory that the British Foreign Secretary Viscount Palmerston described as “a barren island with hardly a house upon it” was once very poor. In the immediate aftermath of World War II and Japanese occupation, its per capita income was about a third of that in the United Kingdom.
By the time British colonial rule ended, Hong Kong was 10 per cent richer than the mother country. Last year, the former colony was 37 per cent richer than the UK. It is, therefore, apposite that the man credited with Hong Kong’s success should be a Scottish civil servant, a University of St Andrews alumnus, and a devotee of Adam Smith: Sir John Cowperthwaite.
As Monnery explains, Cowperthwaite was not the first small government advocate to oversee the colony’s economy and finances. A succession of colonial governors and their financial secretaries ran a shoe string government. But, they did so out of financial necessity, rather than deep ideological commitment to small government.
As Financial Secretaries, Geoffrey Fellows (1945-1951) and Arthur Clarke (1951-1961) established a regime of low taxes and budgetary surpluses, and free flow of good and capital. To those foundations, Cowperthwaite (1961-1971) added not only the vigour of his convictions, but also a handpicked successor, Philip Haddon-Cave (1971-1981). By the time Haddon-Cave departed, the success of Hong Kong’s experiment with small government was undeniable not only to the British, but also to the Chinese. Margaret Thatcher embarked on her journey to dismantle British socialism in 1979, while Deng Xiaoping started undoing the damage caused by Chinese communism in 1978.


And that brings me to the most important reason why Cowperthwaite, rather than Fellows and Clarke, deserve to be credited with the rise of Hong Kong. Basically, he was the right man at the right place in the right time – the 1960s. It was all well and good to run a small government when the colony was still poor. By the 1960s, however, the colony was prospering and demands for higher government spending (as a proportion of GDP) were increasing. As an aside, the government’s nominal spending increased each year in tandem with economic growth. To make matters much worse, socialism, be it in its Soviet form (i.e., central planning) or in its more benign British form (state ownership of the commanding heights of the economy) was ascendant.
In fact, just before departing from Hong Kong, Clarke appears to have had a sudden crisis of confidence in the colony’s economic model, noting:
“We have, I think, come to a turning point in our financial history … There seem to be two courses we can follow. We can carry on as we are doing … Or we can do something to plan our economy … Which course should we adopt?”
Mercifully, Cowperthwaite was able to articulate the reasons for staying the course. In his early budget debates, he noted:
“I now come to the more general and far-reaching suggestion made by Mr Barton and Mr Knowles, that is, the need to plan our economic future and in particular, the desirability of a five-year plan. I would like to say a few words about some of the principles involved in the question of planning the overall economic development of the colony.
“I must, I am afraid, begin by expressing my deep-seated dislike and distrust of anything of this sort in Hong Kong. Official opposition to overall economic planning and planning controls has been characterised in a recent editorial as ‘Papa knows best.’ But it is precisely because Papa does not know best that I believe that Government should not presume to tell any businessman or industrialist what he should or should not do, far less what he may or may not do; and no matter how it may be dressed up that is what planning is.”
And:
“An economy can be planned, I will not say how effectively, when there unused resources and a finite, captive, domestic market, that is, when there is a possibility of control of both production and consumption, of both supply and demand. These are not our circumstances; control of these factors lies outside our borders. For us a multiplicity of individual decisions by businessmen and industrialists will still, I am convinced, produce a better and wiser result than a single decision by a Government or by a board with its inevitably limited knowledge of the myriad factors involved, and its inflexibility.


“Over a wide field of our economy it is still the better course to rely on the nineteenth century’s ‘hidden hand’ than to thrust clumsy bureaucratic fingers into its sensitive mechanism. In particular, we cannot afford to damage its mainspring, freedom of competitive enterprise.”
It is not clear whether Cowperthwaite ever read Friedrich Hayek’s 1945 essay, “The Use of Knowledge in Society”, which posits that allocation “of scarce resources requires knowledge dispersed among many people, with no individual or group of experts capable of acquiring it all”, or whether he came to the same conclusions as the Austrian Nobel Prize-winning economist on his own. But, even if he were consciously or sub-consciously influenced by Hayek, it speaks much of Cowperthwaite “the thinker” that he took Hayek’s insights to heart, unlike so many decision-makers around the world, who succumbed to the Siren calls of socialism.
And so it was with considerable amazement that, towards the end of my first year at St Andrews, I discovered Cowperthwaite and I were neighbours. His house on 25 South Street was a few hundred feet away from Deans Court, the University’s post-graduate student residence. I immediately wrote to him and he responded, asking me to come for tea. I spent a wonderful afternoon in his presence and kept in touch with him during my remaining time at St Andrews.
Last time I saw him, he came to the launch of the libertarian student magazine Catallaxy, which my friend, Alex Singleton, and I wrote together. As he took his leave, I saw him walk down Market Street and got a distinct feeling that it would be for the last time. Shortly after I graduated and moved to Washington. A new life and new job took precedence and St Andrews slowly receded down memory lane.
Neil Monnery’s book made those wonderful memories come alive again. His work has immortalised a man to whom so many owe so much. Architect of Prosperity is an economic and intellectual history. Above all, it is a tribute to a principled, self-effacing, consequential and deeply moral man. Monnery deserves our gratitude for writing it.
Marian Tupy is Editor of HumanProgress.org and a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity

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sábado, 1 de julho de 2017

This Day in History: o retorno de Hong Kong 'a soberania chinesa (NYT)


Front Page Image

China Resumes Control of Hong Kong, Concluding 156 Years of British Rule



By EDWARD A. GARGAN
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HONG KONG, Tuesday, July 1 -- In the first moments after midnight, in a ceremony of solemn precision and martial music, China resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong today, ending 156 years of British colonial rule.
Seconds after British soldiers lowered the Union Jack for the last time to the strains of 'God Save the Queen,' China's red banner was raised, marking the transfer of this free-wheeling capitalist territory to Communist control.
It was an event awaited with trepidation as well as excitement since 1984, when Britain and China agreed on terms for the transfer of power over this territory wrested from China in the 19th century wars over the opium trade. And it ushered a time of uncertainty over whether China would honor its pledge to maintain Hong Kong's way of life largely unaltered for the next 50 years.
For many ordinary people in the streets of Hong Kong, this was a time of celebration, not necessarily over the departure of the British or the arrival of the new masters from Beijing, but for experience of witnessing a big moment in history. [Page A9.]
In the convention center where the handover of power took place, China's President, Jiang Zemin, using a Mandarin dialect as alien to Hong Kong's Cantonese-speaking people as the English of the British authorities, declared the event 'a festival for the Chinese nation and a victory for the universal cause of peace and justice.'
'The return of Hong Kong to the motherland after a century of vicissitudes indicates that from now on, our Hong Kong compatriots have become true masters of this Chinese land and that Hong Kong has now entered a new era of development,' Mr. Jiang said.
Change came quickly as the territory's new rulers assumed control.
At the stroke of midnight, Hong Kong's elected legislature was abolished, and a Beijing-appointed body of lawmakers took its place. A range of Hong Kong's civil liberties were rolled back as new constraints were placed on the right to protest and association, and any form of speech promoting the independence of Taiwan or Tibet was banned.
Change came in small ways too. Across Hong Kong, police officers, fire fighters and all the uniformed services unpinned their colonial insignia and replaced it with the new symbols of China's Hong Kong. The British coat of arms was removed from above the main government building at midnight, and the royal emblem was pried from the Rolls-Royce that used to ferry the British Governor about and will now serve Hong Kong's new Chief Executive.
Quietly, almost forgotten, Prince Charles of Britain and the former colonial Governor, Chris Patten, were driven from the handover ceremony to the harbor front, where the royal yacht Britannia waited to bear them away from Hong Kong.
Shortly after the midnight change of sovereignty, President Jiang gave the oath of office to Beijing's choice to govern this territory, Tung Chee-hwa, a 60-year-old British-educated shipping magnate.
As dawn broke, an unbroken procession of Chinese Army armored personnel carriers, trucks and buses carrying 4,000 soldiers streamed over the border and through the streets of Hong Kong. At villages along the way, thousands of Hong Kongers waited in the rain, waving flags and bouquets of flowers and shouting welcomes to the soldiers.
British rule ended in a ceremony whose details exhausted the negotiating skills of both sides.
On a simple dais inside the just completed Exhibition and Convention Center, two pairs of flagpoles -- one flying the Union Jack and the British Hong Kong flag, the other bare -- stood before chairs for Mr. Jiang's party and those accompanying Prince Charles.
Prince Charles spoke briefly. 'The United Kingdom,' he declared, 'has been proud and privileged to have had responsibility for the people of Hong Kong, to have provided a framework of opportunity in which Hong Kong has so conspicuously succeeded, and to have been part of the success which the people of Hong Kong have made of their opportunities.'
'God Save the Queen' was played by a band of Scots Guards in tall, bearskin hats, and the Union Jack was brought down.
After a five-second pause, time for British cymbals to stop vibrating, the Chinese national anthem was played and the Chinese flag raised alongside the new flag of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong had returned to Chinese rule.
The transfer from British rule began at 4:30 P.M. Monday, when the doors of Government House, the home for British governors since 1855, opened and Mr. Patten, his wife, Lavender, and their three daughters walked down the steps.
Drawn up at attention in the sweeping circular drive was the police band in snow-white tunics. In a blue suit, the bags under his eyes heavier than usual, his now gray-white hair a bit disheveled, Mr. Patten mounted a small stepped dais.
The band broke into the first stanza of 'God Save the Queen,' and Mr. Patten, Hong Kong's 28th Governor, lowered his head, swallowing heavily in a surge of emotion, emotion that would shake the Governor repeatedly through the day.
Eight officers from the Royal Police Training School snapped through a sharply choreographed flipping of rifles, turns and slow-step marching in a salute to the last Governor.
Stepping from the dais, Mr. Patten walked slowly down a line of representatives of each of the territory's services, from the Correctional Services Department to the Auxiliary Medical Services, all in wilting white dress uniforms.
Then, as a single bugler played 'Last Post,' a thin drizzle brushed the courtyard, and the British flag slipped down the flagpole. The police band struck up Mr. Patten's favorite song, 'Highland Cathedral,' and with the folded flag on a royal blue pillow, he stepped into a Rolls-Royce.
Slowly, the long black car flying the Governor's ensign from the hood circled the courtyard before Government House three times, a Chinese ritual performed by all previous governors to signal 'we shall return.'
As Mr. Patten's car pulled from the gates of Government House, gates that still bore the Queen's seal, crowds waved and cheered. A small contingent of police officers in their green summer uniforms swung the iron gates closed, ending 122 years of British residence.
The drizzle turned to showers and then to a downpour that washed the harbor front in sheets of monsoon-borne rains. Still, the British farewell ceremony began sharply at 6:15 P.M. as a gray sky melted into hues of gold and rose. Two dragon dance teams rose and fell across a tarmac ground that once was the main British naval base here.
A succession of performances by choirs and orchestras, and arias sung by Dame Gwyneth Jones and Warren Mok followed.
With rain pelting down on him, Mr. Patten delivered his final speech as Governor, a short piece of oratory that remained as robustly defiant as any he has given, a declaration of his own principles as Governor and a public challenge to much of Chief Executive Tung's philosophy of governance.
'Our own nation's contribution here,' he said, 'was to provide the scaffolding that enabled the people of Hong Kong to ascend: the rule of law, clean and light-handed government, the values of a free society. The beginnings of representative government and democratic accountability.'
'Hong Kong's values are decent values,' he continued. 'They are universal values. They are the values of the future in Asia as elsewhere, a future in which the happiest and the richest communities, and the most confident and the most stable too, will be those that best combine political liberty and economic freedom as we do today.'
At 8:45 in the evening, just after the fireworks celebrating British rule ended, 509 officers, soldiers and sailors from the Chinese Army began moving over the border in glossy black Audis, buses and open-back trucks, in which troops stood at attention, their white gloved hands gripping the wooden side rails. Other trucks in camouflage paint, some with green canvas covers, followed slowly behind.
In Hong Kong's newly built convention center, a curving, sculpted-roofed edifice jutting into the harbor, a banquet was given by the British for 4,000 guests, including Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and China's Foreign Minister, Qian Qichen, who has spearheaded Beijing's arrangements for Hong Kong.
Over Scottish salmon, stuffed chicken breast and a red fruit pudding with raspberry sauce, Hong Kong's wealthiest and most powerful people, British and Chinese alike, ate their last meal under a British flag.
Neither President Jiang nor Prime Minister Li Peng, the first Communist Chinese leaders to set foot in colonial Hong Kong, attended the banquet.
With only an hour of sovereignty left, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook of Britain, relaxed with hands in his pockets, waited at the entrance of the new Hong Kong convention center, Chief Executive Tung at his side, for the arrival of President Jiang.
An honor guard of Black Watch in white jackets and kilts stood at attention.
Mr. Jiang's black bulletproof Mercedes, with both Hong Kong and Chinese license plates, arrived moments later. The Chinese President was helped from the car, and Mr. Patten shook his hand, saying simply, 'Welcome to Hong Kong.'
Against the surge of patriotic sentiment and the wisps of nostalgia for the departed British, there were protests from pro-democracy figures who had been expelled from the legislature with the advent of Chinese rule.
From the balcony of the Legislative Council building, Martin Lee, the leader of the pro-democracy forces in the disbanded legislature, told thousands of demonstrators that democracy would return to Hong Kong.
'We know,' he told the crowd below, 'that without a democratically constituted government and legislature, there is no way for our people to be insured that good laws will be passed to protect their freedoms.'
'If there is no democracy, there is no rule of law,' he continued. 'We want Hong Kong and China to advance together and not step back together. We are proud to be Chinese, more proud than ever before. But we ask: Why is it our leaders in China will not give us more democracy? Why must they take away the modest democracy we have fought so hard to win from the British Government?'
Meanwhile, detachments of Chinese troops fanned out across Hong Kong, taking possession of military bases. At the Prince of Wales barracks, still bearing that name this morning, an honor guard stood at attention while the Chinese flag was raised. And on the radio station that had served British forces here, 107.4 FM, there was nothing but the hiss of empty static.
At Possession Point, the place where on Jan. 26, 1841, Capt. Edward Belcher first raised the British flag, there were memories, expressions of happiness, pride and worry.
On a bench in what is now Hollywood Road Park, Choy Sum Mui, 75, reflected on her long life and the future that awaits her under a new sovereign.
'I came to Hong Kong when the Japanese bombed my village,' she said, speaking slowly. 'I'm illiterate, so I don't know much about things unless people tell me. People say this is Possession Point, but it doesn't mean much to me. I've never seen a Communist before. I don't know what they are like. Really, I'm so old already, all this change doesn't mean much to me.'
On Possession Street, a Mr. Lam, 72, said: 'It's a good thing we can finally get rid of the imperialists. We're all Chinese. I feel great. This land belongs to China.'

terça-feira, 30 de setembro de 2014

Hong Kong: um pais dois sistemas (e como...)



Photo
CreditPatrick Chappatte
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Pro-democracy demonstrators take over Hong Kong’s streets.

segunda-feira, 29 de setembro de 2014

Hong Kong: mais uma "Primavera", desta vez no Outono: a revolucao do guarda-chuva

Quando a China comunista absorveu Hong Kong, em 1997, eu pensei que ao cabo de 50 anos de transição para o capitalismo, seria a grande China a ser absorvida economicamente pela pequena ilha libertária e ultra-capitalista, e não o contrário.
Agota eu me pergunto se não vai ser a pequena ilha democrática a precipitar uma revoluçao política no grande irmão autocrático.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida 


Images of Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’ Tell a Story

In a city unused to political violence, many people in Hong Kong were shocked by what they saw as a harsh response by police officers who used tear gas, batons and pepper spray against pro-democracy demonstrators on Sunday.
Here are some videos and other images of Occupy Central, as the movement is called, whose participants want Hong Kong people to be allowed to freely choose the candidates in the 2017 election for the next leader, a request that China’s central government in Beijing has turned down.
Here is The New York Times’s slideshow of the movement, which officially began on Sunday:
Slide Show

Pro-Democracy Protests in Hong Kong

Riot police used tear gas against protesters after tens of thousands of people blocked a main road to Central, a financial district, outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Sunday.
 Wally Santana/Associated Press
Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong, is offering this live feed:
And this video from Apple Daily gives an aerial overview of the crowds on Sunday night. Chinese text at the beginning calls on Leung Chun-ying, the chief executive, to step down “or there will be a big strike”:
This video contains a dramatic moment with protesters in front of advancing police vehicles suddenly scattering as tear gas is fired:
Despite that and other similar incidents, on Monday, crowds swelled again in downtown Hong Kong, according to the Twitter feed of Varsity, a magazine by the students of the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, many of whose students are taking part in the protests:

Protesters were even picking up their trash:

Here is Varsity again, showing a human chain bringing supplies to protesters at noon on Monday:

With China set to celebrate the National Day holiday on Wednesday, The South China Morning Post noted that a Chinese national flag had been raised as usual — but upside down:

Beijing has long warned against a “color revolution” in Hong Kong, or a democracy movement that it says is being supported by “hostile forces” from the West.
A characteristic of the protests so far has been the use by demonstrators of umbrellas, to protect against police use of pepper spray. This post on Twitter shows some umbrellas in a subway exit and suggests a name for the movement: the Umbrella Revolution.

terça-feira, 22 de julho de 2014

David democratico vs Golias autocratico: a pequena Macau querliberdades, contra a grande China opressora

No final, a liberdade sempre vence, e o próprio povo chinês vai aprender com os minúsculos territórios da Hong Kong e Macau que a democracia também precisa ser imposta aos autocratas de Beijing.
A opressão tem seus dias contados, daí o desespero dos totalitários em conter os movimentos por liberdades democráticas nos dois territórios.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Macau Raises Its Political Voice

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Democratic activists in Macau, a Chinese territory, are planning an unofficial referendum next month about holding direct elections for its chief executive. Beijing says Macau — a Portuguese colony handed back to China in 1999 — has no legal authority to hold a referendum, and dismisses any vote as meaningless. But the territory’s newly awakened democratic force is not something Beijing can just wish away.
Macau’s universal suffrage movement follows the unofficial referendum in Hong Kong last month that called for the right to freely elect that city’s chief executive. Some 800,000 people voted, and hundreds of thousands took to the streets calling for democracy.
Macau, like Hong Kong, enjoys a high degree of autonomy, including freedom of speech and press as well as a capitalist economy, under China’s policy of “one country, two systems.” Macau’s chief executive, though, is elected by a commission of 400 people, most of whom are Beijing loyalists. The proposed referendum will ask Macau residents whether universal suffrage should be adopted for the 2019 chief executive election, and whether they have confidence in the current chief executive, Fernando Chui, who is expected to be re-elected by the commission in August for another five-year term.
Macau’s 600,000 residents were politically quiet until recently. Then, in May, 20,000 people protested Mr. Chui’s attempt to legislate a lavish retirement package for top officials and immunity from criminal persecution for the chief executive for any misdeeds committed while in office. What began as a protest against Mr. Chui quickly shaped into a larger democratic movement challenging China.
Beijing promised at the time of the British handover of Hong Kong to preserve “one country, two systems” for 50 years, which leaves 33 more years. During this time, the richer southeastern coastal regions of China are likely to become more like Hong Kong and Macau economically, socially and in political aspiration. Beijing should be thinking about how to accommodate these long-term trends instead of conjuring ways to suppress today’s dissent in the two specially administered cities.

terça-feira, 1 de julho de 2014

Tian An-Mein em Hong Kong? O pequeno David democrata contra o gigante tirano Golias?

Os jovens de Hong Kong, muitas das vezes filhos daqueles chineses do continente que fugiram anos atrás, décadas antes, da ditadura e da miséria comunista, não se sentem chineses. Eles querem ser, querem preservar o que são: livres, democratas, autônomos, capitalistas de verdade.
Será que a pequena ilha é que vai transformar o imenso e democraticamente atrasado continente que fica atrás?
Não sabemos ainda. A História dá muitas voltas e nunca se repete.
Mas, certas coisas são imutáveis: a sede pela liberdade do ser humano, por exemplo.
Em todo caso, esses jovens começam bem...
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Huge Crowds Turn Out for Hong Kong Pro-Democracy March
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A huge throng of people, mostly young, took to Hong Kong’s streets Tuesday, defying Beijing’s dwindling tolerance for challenges to its control.

HONG KONG — Hundreds of thousands of people held one of the largest marches in Hong Kong’s history on Tuesday to demand greater democracy, defying intermittent tropical downpours and Beijing’s dwindling tolerance for challenges to its control.
A nearly solid river of protesters — most of them young — poured out of Victoria Park through the afternoon and into the evening, heading for the heart of the city. The sea of protesters showed their determination by waiting unflinchingly and with barely a complaint for hours under a succession of deluges just for their chance to walk through the skyscraper-lined canyons of downtown Hong Kong, carrying banners calling for the introduction of full democracy and “Say No to Communist China.”


Enquanto isso, do outro lado da cerca, mas na mesma pequena ilha:

By MICHAEL FORSYTHE

Two people who turned out for a pro-Beijing rally in Hong Kong said they were paid to attend the event.

domingo, 19 de maio de 2013

Hong Kong-China: fome de liberdade e de verdade, nos livros proibidos(NYT)

On Hong Kong Shelves, Illicit Dirt on China’s Elite

Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times
Paul Tang, proprietor of the People’s Recreation Community bookstore in Hong Kong, which specializes in banned works.




HONG KONG — Visitors from mainland China climb the narrow stairs to a cramped room here filled with forbidden delights: shelves of scandal-packed exposés about their Communist Party masters.
Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times
The People’s Recreation Community bookstore in Hong Kong, which carries scandalous books about Communist leaders.
Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times
Books at the store featuring Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.
The People’s Recreation Community bookstore and several others on Hong Kong’s teeming shopping streets specialize in selling books and magazines banned by the Chinese government, mostly for their luridly damning accounts of party leaders, past and present. And at a time when many Chinese citizens smolder with distrust of their leaders, business is thriving.
“We come here to buy books that we can’t read in China,” said Huang Tao, a salesman of nutritional supplements from southeast China, who picked out a muckraking volume recently about corruption among senior party leaders. “There are so many things that we’ve been deceived over,” he said, waving toward books on the devastating famine of the late 1950s and early 1960s, an episode that official histories have muffled in euphemisms. “We can’t learn the truth, so black becomes white and white becomes black.”
Such publications smuggle corrosive facts and rumors into the bloodstream of Chinese political life. The contraband flow is reinforced by a flow of online publications and downloadable pirate copies. The trade shows the thirst for information in a society gripped by censorship, and the difficulties that party authorities face in trying to stifle that thirst, especially when, people in the business say, officials are among the avid readers of banned books.
“These books are playing a big role in raising the consciousness of the Chinese people,” said a Beijing journalist who visits Hong Kong several times a year and buys armloads of exposés. He asked that his name not be used, fearing punishment. “It’s impossible to stop everything getting through.”
They contain accounts of every conceivable scandal of the past. Then there are the gloomy prophecies about China’s future. One book foretells a war with Japan in 2014, another a toppling of the current leadership that same year. The strongest seller among these feverish jeremiads, “2014: The Great Collapse,” says the fall of the Communist Party is assured, citing what it says are secret party documents. “This is not gossip or soothsaying,” the preface declares.
“Some people take these books very seriously. I had a phone call just yesterday for 20 copies of this book. He seemed to be a Chinese businessman,” said Paul Tang, the proprietor of the store, which in Chinese goes by the more ironic name of the People’s Commune bookstore.
“Right now, more than 90 percent of our sales come from mainland visitors,” said Mr. Tang, 38, who formerly worked for fast food chains. He and three partners opened the store in 2002 and two years later shifted its focus to banned books for visitors from mainland China. “The most frequently asked question is not about the content of books,” Mr. Tang said. “It’s how they can get the books back to China.”
That game of hide and seek takes place daily, as Chinese travelers return from Hong Kong and other destinations, sometimes with contraband. Customs officers are sometimes instructed to stop particular titles, people in the trade say, but often anything with a political edge that is discovered is scrutinized, and decisions on what to confiscate are made on the fly.
Zhou Qicai, a businessman from northeast China, was lugging a suitcase stuffed with 400 copies of a Chinese-language magazine from Hong Kong into China in March when a customs officer inspected his luggage. The magazine, Boxun, had a report about court officials in his hometown who are suspected of being corrupt that he wanted to share with friends.
“He took one look at the magazines and said, ‘These are reactionary publications, they’re illegal,’ ” Mr. Zhou said. The officer seized the magazines, took down his personal details and warned him not to smuggle again. “That didn’t matter,” Mr. Zhou said. “I came back and tried again a couple of days later and brought in 93 copies without a problem.”
A former British colony, Hong Kong became a self-administered region of China in 1997, and despite pressures from Beijing, remains free of state censorship. In 2012, Hong Kong hosted 34.9 million visits by Chinese nationals, many on shopping sprees.
Chinese customs officials often confiscate publications about forbidden themes. But prosecutions of caught travelers are virtually unheard-of these days, because the government would have difficulty explaining its secretive censorship practices, even before tame, party-run courts, said Bao Pu, the head of New Century Press, a Hong Kong publisher of many books by ousted and retired Chinese officials.
“They can never openly justify their rules, because there’s no public list of banned books and these people make their own arbitrary decisions,” said Mr. Bao, the son of a purged Chinese official. “There would simply be too many people to prosecute; there would be a backlash.”
The illicit flow includes memoirs and studies of events and people that the Communist Party would rather forget, like the Great Leap famine and brutal Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong, and the upheavals that culminated in the crackdown in Tiananmen Square in June 1989. Former officials whose memoirs cannot be published in China, among them the late ousted party leader, Zhao Ziyang, often turn to Hong Kong for an outlet.
Then there are the magazines and books offering salacious accounts of party officials’ private lives. Few members of China’s political elite escape having a book, or at least a chapter, devoted to their suspected plots, mistresses or ill-gotten fortunes.
Some of the hastily written potboilers appear fanciful, even by the generous standards that China has recently set, with a real-life scandal involving a Politburo member, Bo Xilai, who fell from power after his wife, Gu Kailai, was arrested on charges of murdering a British businessman.
“It’s like when your National Enquirer becomes your only form of political discussion,” said Geremie Barmé, a professor at the Australian National University in Canberra who studies Chinese culture and politics. “This is a tragedy that the party has generated for itself. Its processes are all cloaked from the public.”
Yet many readers of banned publications from Hong Kong are themselves Chinese officials, often eager for gossip that can help them navigate treacherous political shoals. The books and magazines are surviving the onslaught of online material in part because so many of their readers are officials who fear using the Internet to look at forbidden material or lack the skill to thwart censorship, said Mr. Tang.
“You don’t have to read the People’s Daily, because that won’t tell you what’s really going on, but you have to read these,” said Ho Pin, an exiled Chinese journalist who runs Mirror Books, a company based in New York that publishes muckraking books and magazines in Chinese. Chinese officials visiting Hong Kong often buy them as gifts for fellow officials, he said. “In the past, you’d give a mayor a bottle of liquor. But that’s nothing these days, and so is a carton of cigarettes,” Mr. Ho said. “But if you give him one of our books or magazines, he’ll be very happy.