Tearing down ‘New Hong Kong’ ideas

As China cracked down progressively more on Hong Kong this summer, arresting more pro-democracy protestors and clamping down on the city’s autonomy, a number of commentators from the intersection of urbanism, policy and tech proposed establishing “New Hong Kong” or “Hong Kong 2.0”, where another sovereign state would cede a small territory, build infrastructure and then invite the people of Hong Kong to immigrate there, establishing a haven from Communist China.

Sounds great, but the trouble is that a city is more than just infrastructure plus population. On top of that, the commentators seemed to miss the point of China’s crackdown and the reasons for the protest: Hongkongers increasingly want to govern themselves democratically, not be a sort of corporate playground. The CCP has no problem with Hong Kong’s capitalism as far as I can tell, it’s things like democracy and freedom of the press and trial by jury and inalienable human rights they’re not keen on. And in a charter city, these are the things that get left by the wayside. We should support Hong Kong because it’s the right thing to do, not hope that it can boost some flagging Western economy. 

And so, I wrote about it in The American Conservative.  

New article: remaking cities after Covid

My article “How to Retrofit Your Neighborhood to Save Urban Civilization” was published at The American Conservative on June 26. It’s about how American cities and towns can redevelop around walking, biking and “15 minute neighborhoods” that are more resilient to the disruption wrought by pandemics. 

Resilience will be one of the most important concepts of the coming decade, along with sustainability.