A rosy view of being a Hong Kong expat
I recently rediscovered Po Bronson‘s essay about the expatriate myth surrounding Hong Kong entitled Trafficking in Extremes: the Adventure of Working Abroad (circa 2005).
Bronson begins with a grand overview of how Hong Kong is unique (80% housing is government-built non-market, multiple banks print bills) and then continues to look at some bigger issues. For example:
There’s always a rapid turnover on the frontier, which means that even though you’re young, you can be thrust into responsibility very quickly.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen instances where such a short-term mentality has cultivated an air of arrogance in Hong Kong’s expatriate community.
Bronson chooses to end the essay with an account of a somewhat-heroic Goldman Sachs banker, who works for the powers of capitalism in Hong Kong with the belief that:
[Business] can serve a higher purpose in the struggle against communism and warlord feudalism. Capitalism begins with the basic concept of private property, which gives everyone with property a stake, and through that stake a desire to fight for individual liberty. Eventually, capitalism can create a middle-class and bring prosperity.
It’s an interesting and deep argument, though I remain skeptical because it carries a air of romanticized self-justification.
The essay is a good read, and it’s part of a book called What Should I Do With My Life? (which I have read and vouch for).