Editor’s note for Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A note from today's editor of the SupChina Access newsletter.

In today’s newsletter:  

  • Trump ends Hong Kong’s special status, declines to sanction top Chinese officials
  • China’s biggest chip maker set for massive IPO
  • Childless actress to critics: Mind your own business!
  • This Week in China’s History: The execution 1907 of feminist poet Qiu Jin

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My thoughts today:

As if to confirm that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from the mainland, the city’s authorities last week refused to renew a work permit for the New York Times’ veteran China reporter Chris Buckley. The Times says the Hong Kong immigration department “offered Mr. Buckley, 52, no explanation,” and that “some” other unnamed “employees in Hong Kong have faced challenges securing work permits.”

Buckley had only recently returned to Hong Kong after he was denied a mainland visa renewal in May, one of many journalists working for American media companies who were expelled in the first half of the year. These visa issues come in addition to the unknown dangers posed to news organizations by Hong Kong’s new national security law.

So the New York Times has decided to “relocate its Hong Kong-based digital news operation” to Seoul, South Korea. The Hong Kong bureau currently serves as the regional base for reporters covering Asia, but it is also vital to maintain global 24/7 news coverage by working with teams in New York and London. About a third of all Hong Kong staff will move to Seoul. It sounds like they’re planning to just leave behind reporters who cover Hong Kong and East Asia.

This is another blow to the city’s status as an open international city. It comes on top of the new Trump administration order on changing the status of Hong Kong so it is treated in business as no different from the mainland — see our top story below.

But investors in Hong Kong’s markets shrugged it off today. The Hang Seng Index actually rose 0.01%. Perhaps the investors are on to something: Despite warnings that Hong Kong’s markets need the free flow of information, Hong Kong’s future as a financial center depends on Chinese companies and Chinese investors. They are used to far lower standards of transparency and frequent government intervention. And while the media may get muzzled, Hong Kong’s financial infrastructure and talent pool will take much longer to degrade.

Meanwhile, the bulls are back in China’s mainland markets. In Shanghai, the new Star Market (a.k.a. Technology and Innovation Board) has now reached second place globally in a ranking of funds raised this year. Only Nasdaq is ahead.

Our word of the day is Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) 中芯国际 zhōng xīn guójì, China biggest silicon chip maker, which is set to raise an enormous amount of money on Shanghai’s Star market tomorrow.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief