HSBC has decided to keep its headquarters in London after Brexit. Given HSBC's historical ties to Hong Kong, that is no surprise.

Hong Kong shows that even a tiny island with slightly less government than its surroundings can become an economic powerhouse. Having less government than China turned this island into one of the dominant business, financial, cultural, and trade centers in the world.

Hong Kong's per capita income is around $35k a year. China's is recently UP to a laughable $7k a year.

Hong Kong is full of wealthy and productive entrepreneurs and businesses. The few wealthy in China are largely crony capitalists, skilled primarily at using political connections to get special favors.

HSBC knows this: It won't matter how easy the EU makes internal trade among European countries. It won't matter if the EU develops a single legal code, or a single "simplified" European language. Being absorbed into a single, monolithic, big government, overregulated, cronyist disaster will not help England. Being free to lower regulation, make independent trade agreements, and allow innovation and cultural development will.

China may succeed in reabsorbing Hong Kong, forcing Hong Kong to adopt China's inflationary currency and dumbed down language, in the hope that doing so will bring Hong Kong's skill and wealth into China. But the main advantage that Hong Kong has that China doesn't: less government. If you add Chinese cronyism, state propaganda as "education", and inexplicable central planning (e.g. ghost cities) to Hong Kong, you'll just lower Hong Kong to China's level. Or you might just empty it of talent, as all the productive people leave to seek opportunities where hard work and innovation pay off.

During the last decades, the EU has partially succeeded in doing just that with the UK. It turned one of human history's most vibrant centers of innovation into a backwater of welfare socialism and crony capitalism.

The UK has the incredible opportunity to become Europe's Hong Kong. It must first reject any bad trade deals with the EU. The EU's "free trade" is nonsense. It is, in fact, highly closed trade. It's free trade and movement of labor within Europe, in exchange for massive restrictions on trade and movement of labor from outside of Europe.

The UK should seek trade relationships with productive, capitalist(ish) economies like the U.S., not with Europe's hubs of laziness and socialism. Second, it must reduce its own regulation and taxes. It can become a place that attracts and keeps entrepreneurs and innovative businesses, instead of repelling them as it does now.

If the UK remains courageous, rejects restrictive trade deals with nonproductive countries, refuses to bail out foreign nations, and lowers its own taxes and regulations, it can become to Europe what Hong Kong became to China.

In Liberty,

Arvin Vohra
Vice Chair
Libertarian National Committee