Tag: Hong Kong

Hong Kong protest 2019

Critics claim the 2019 protests in Hong Kong undermine it as a leading global financial center.

Olin’s David R. Meyer, however, finds that Hong Kong’s status is secure for three reasons:

  • China’s government will continue to support it;
  • Hong Kong’s financial networks possess extraordinary scale and sophistication;
  • and no viable alternative center has emerged to challenge Hong Kong as the Asia-Pacific leader.
David R. Meyer

Meyer, a senior lecturer in management and expert on East Asian and international business, puts forth his arguments in “The Hong Kong protests will not undermine it as a leading global financial centre,” published online in April in Area Development and Policy.

“The Hong Kong protests will not undermine it as a leading global financial center,” he said, citing his research that draws on the “geography of finance” research on global financial centers.

Protests begin

The protests started in mid-March 2019 after the government sought to allow extradition of suspects between Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan and Macau in criminal cases. Then, on June 9, came the march of “more than a million Hongkongers,” according to organizers.

As Meyer notes in the paper, protesters issued five demands: withdraw the extradition bill; make an independent inquiry into police enforcement; retract the “riot” classification of violent protests; drop charges against demonstrators; and reform elections.

Protests and riots continued into the fall. By November, demonstrations reached the airport and temporarily closed it, protesters took over university campuses and disrupted the rapid transit system. Later that month, voters swept anti-government candidates into office in district elections. Then, as violent protests declined, peaceful protests continued this year.

Network hub of global capital’

Now critics claim the protests threaten Hong Kong as a leading global financial center. They suggest Hong Kong’s importance to China will fade because activities such as initial public offerings, bond sales and currency trading will be done elsewhere, Meyer says in his paper.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

They speculate that other cities—among them Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen—will compete with Hong Kong and that financiers will move their business to other cities.

“These are serious claims,” Meyer said.

Yet the claim that the protests threaten Hong Kong as a leading center “fails to recognize that the city’s significance rests on its status as a network hub of global capital,” Meyer said.

“Based on this perspective,” Meyer writes in the paper, “I argue that the protests do not threaten Hong Kong as a global financial center because its networks of capital are resilient.”

No other financial center in the Asia-Pacific region has the ability to replace it, he says.

Almost two centuries of stability

Research on global financial centers shows a high degree of stability at the upper-ranked centers dating back for almost two centuries, Meyer notes in the paper.

London had replaced Amsterdam as the leading center by the 19th century, and New York joined the top centers in the early 20th century. Hong Kong became the leading financial center in Asia by the late 19th century, according to the paper.

This relative stability of the upper-level financial centers persists, Meyer says. Even the 2008 global financial crisis couldn’t significantly disrupt the ranks of the top financial centers.

(Meyer says the COVID-19 crisis “will have no consequence other than near-term disruption of activity as is occurring in all major financial centers.”)

And even though China’s leaders are unhappy with the Hong Kong government and outraged over the violent protests, no evidence suggests that they will undermine the city’s financial community, according to the paper.

“Hong Kong’s financial community occupies the highest level of specializations in finance and contains multi-faceted, complex and internally connected networks,” Meyer writes.

“Components of these networks reach across Asia and globally, which means Hong Kong is the pivot of financial expertise and knowledge in the region.”

Max Liu, BSBA

Max Liu, BSBA ’95, wants to make financial services more accessible, while accelerating financial inclusion for the unbanked population in Asia. Toward that end, the Hong Kong-based entrepreneur cofounded and runs EMQ, a financial technology innovator that is building a financial network across Asia with a focus on remittance.

The company just closed a $6.5 million round of funding last month. Liu founded EMQ in 2014 to offer cross-border remittance services between two countries at a fraction of the price of conventional banks, providing secure and affordable money transfer options for businesses and individuals.

Olin’s Nancy Barter, senior director of development, caught up with Liu a few months after he met Dean Mark Taylor during a visit to Hong Kong.

Tell us more about the work you’ve done at EMQ.

We developed our entire business from a compliance and regulatory perspective by partnering with banks and established payment partners. We also spent years to make sure our networks are fully compliant end to end, and that we abide by all rules and regulations in every country we operate in.

Today, we have established a resilient and regulatory-approved remittance network with an extensive last-mile distribution footprint across North and Southeast Asia‎.

We also have built a strong partner ecosystem of financial institutions, digital wallets, telecom companies, and traditional money transfer providers (cash pick-up), amassing thousands of distribution points across North and Southeast Asia.

How did your Olin education affect your career?

Olin is a welcoming community. Relationships between the student body and faculty are very unique.

Faculty members are committed to our education and future. They always encourage us to think hard, ask the big questions, find inspiration—and our passion.

We can actively engage with professors, dig deep into specialty areas, customize coursework with electives, immerse ourselves in global programs, and collaborate with organizations of all types and sizes. It creates a great platform for our future career.

What course or faculty member influenced you most?

Every single person I have met at Olin has influenced my education in some way or another, but the diverse and supportive community—a unique blend of cultures and beliefs—had a profound impact on me.

I found thought leaders, world-class faculty, and global alumni passionately sharing their advantages with me. I learned a lot of business knowledge and gained valuable hands-on experience through my engagements.

Was there a “defining moment” in your WashU experience?

I was a part of Olin’s Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs, which provided me with the resources and networking opportunities necessary to foster entrepreneurship. I learned from aspiring entrepreneurs at Olin and attended conferences across the United States and Asia.

My trip to Beijing in 1992 to meet entrepreneurs and businessmen across different industries taught me to creatively solve problems—and adapt to change and people from all different backgrounds and perspectives—to reach my goal.

How would you counsel today’s Olin students to focus their education and career-building efforts?

As an entrepreneur running EMQ, passion is very important to me. The things I was most passionate about were being able to see a problem and figuring out a way to solve it by making financial services more accessible to businesses and individuals.

When times get tough—which they always do in the startup environment—it was my passion that drove me and helped me persist. 

When we are passionate about something, we work harder, we get more creative, we search more diligently for solutions. When difficult problems arise, we inspire others who work alongside us.

How do you stay engaged with Olin and Washington University?

Olin and Washington University maintain an exceptionally close bond with the university and the alumni. Whenever people from Olin and Washington University take a trip through the Asia Pacific region, I always get an email inviting me to attend an event—or, sometimes, have a deep-dive conversation with a faculty member, as I did with Dean Mark Taylor’s recent visit to Hong Kong.

During my recent breakfast meeting with Dean Taylor, we spoke about the fintech ecosystem in Asia and ways we can provide more opportunities for the students at Olin and Washington University.

Following this breakfast, I was connected to Cliff Holenkamp, who runs Olin’s entrepreneurship program and has a passion for building businesses and laying the proper foundation to groom future entrepreneurs. I was also connected to Greg Hutchings of Olin’s Weston Career Center to connect the companies in Asia to the talent pool at Olin.

As an entrepreneur myself, I believe in the power of entrepreneurship; it’s great to share my stories of triumphs and challenges to give insightful vision to the next generation of students and entrepreneurs and continue to inspire and motivate them to reach their goals.

What’s going on WUSTL and WUSTL alums? This is my blog post about one of our adventures here in Hong Kong. First, an introduction. My name is Andrew Nelms and I am junior in the business school at Wash U. I decided to do my study abroad in Hong Kong since I believe Asia is where the future of this world is being built, and Hong Kong has the unique perspective that being westernized can bring.

Anyways, during our Spring Break some friends I have made here and I decided to go to Indochina for a 12 day trip. We started in Hanoi (Vietnam) and then journeyed to Siem Reap, Saigon (the locals prefer the old name as opposed to Ho Chi Minh City), and Phnom Penh. It was a great trip overall and I loved every second.


Hanoi was great. It was far less developed than Saigon, but it is the Capital of Vietnam so we decided to start our journey there. Among the thousands of propaganda posters spouting the greatness of Communism and Ho Chi Minh were thousands of people riding motorbikes. The city has a distinct French feel, going back to its old days as a French colony. The museums were interesting (and quite anti-United States) and really showed a god-like reverence for Ho Chi Minh. We also did a day trip to Ha Long Bay where we kayaked beneath enormous rock formations and explored some really cool caves.

We met tons of Australians and New Zealanders who were just backpacking around and motorbiking through Indochina. DO NOT MOTORBIKE IN VIETNAM. Everyone does it, and everyone has a horror story about getting hurt. I met countless people who were scarred and maimed; not to mention it is the number one cause of tourist death in Vietnam each year. Do not do it. The traffic laws are not followed well enough to ensure your safety, and it’s a matter of when you get hurt, not if. Above is a typical Vietnamese propaganda poster found in Hanoi.

Siem Reap

9Siem ReapAfter Hanoi we traveled over to Siem Reap which is in Cambodia. Here we saw the world famous temple named Angkor Wat. It was incredible. We went at sunrise and spent most of the day in these temples. Words really cannot describe the intricate detail going into this immense complex of temples; the time spent by the Khmer people building these temples and maintaining them is unimaginable to me, and draws my immense respect. Go to Angkor Wat and experience it for yourself. At left is a photo I snapped of the sun rising over the main temple.

Phnom Penh

After spending time in Siem Reap, we took a bus down to the capital of Cambodia which is called Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh is a total cesspool, but a great experience nonetheless. I have never seen so much trash in the waterways and streets. We visited the Killing Fields where over 2 million Khmer people were massacred in the late 1970’s. We could see the bones and clothes left over from the mass graves. It was incredibly sobering, and a reminder of what brutality communist regimes can bring.

After the killing fields we made moves over to the shooting range. I had my eye on shooting an RPG, while my buddies were more on the shooting an AK-47 train. We journeyed out to a mountain where some old military people had set up a shooting range with a number of military items on sale. Grenades, heavy machine guns, assault rifles; if you could think of it, it was there. We shot for a while and had a ton of fun, but eventually decided we needed to get back to the hostel and get ready for our trip to Ho Chi Minh City, colloquially known as Saigon.

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh)

The name Saigon should be familiar to all you readers who love theater, but for the rest of you it is simply the name the city went by before it was conquered by the North Vietnamese in 1975. It was by far the most developed city in Indochina and you could see how it is quickly becoming the financial center of Indochina.

We bussed over from Phnom Penh and settled in our hostel. We spent the first day doing several museums and markets, including the War Remnants Museum which told the story of the Vietnam War from the other side. It spoke of the atrocities of America committed through Agent Orange and the carpet bombing of North Vietnam, while conveniently ignoring the horrors committed by Ho Chi Minh. I suppose it makes sense how propaganda-y it was, but it was interesting how many Westerners considered the museum to be 100% accurate and had their opinions completely influenced by it. I wanted people to do more research, but sadly I know most won’t and instead their only source of information on the war will be the The Peoples Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

9Saigon (Ho Chi MinhIt was still cool to see the other side of the story though.  The next day we went to the Mekong Delta where we took several boat rides, saw locals making candy, and had some specialty tea. The day was very pleasant and allowed us to really experience the delta up close. We packed up and came back to Hong Kong the day after.

Overall the trip was very enlightening and an amazing time.

Andrew Nelms is an Olin Business School Junior studying Operations and Supply Chain Management and Economics and Strategy while minoring in Political Science.

David Meyer, senior lecturer in management at Olin recently delivered two speeches in Hong Kong and contributes an op-ed Dec. 22, 2014 to the South China Morning Post on the topic of the Occupy movement protests in the Asian financial capital. Meyer cites the historical rise of Hong Kong as a commercial and financial hub as one reason why the Occupy movement could not harm Hong Kong’s financial status.

Image: Leung Ching Yau Alex, Occupy Hong Kong, Flickr Creative Commons

How did you spend your winter break?

On January 9th and 10th, 2014, twelve students from Washington University, including students from Olin’s Specialized Masters Program and dual degree Global Masters of Science in Finance (Singapore Management University and Olin), ventured out for two days of company and alumni visits during the 3rd annual Hong Kong Road Show.  The group was led by Mark Brostoff, associate dean and director, Weston Career Center and Greg Hutchings, assistant dean and director, Specialized Masters Program.

Day #1 – We all met at Citibank Plaza, Central for introductions and a quick briefing before heading out for our first visit at Citibank.  Alum David Weisner LA ’87 was a very gracious host who assembled a team to discuss investments, capital markets and securities.

Our next stop was to the trading floor of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, followed by a special lunch presentation from alums Dan Swift and Albert Ip.  Both Dan and Albert discussed careers in corporate and investment banking and answered questions.

Our last stop was KPMG, where we learned how the firm focuses on respecting employees’ thinking and values, while helping them navigate opportunities in auditing, consulting and tax.  At each company, we heard from top executives and alumni who spoke about opportunities across the Asia-Pacific region as firms continue to expand resources there.  We learned there is a continuing need for top talent who possess a “global mindset”. #2 – Heading on the MTR to City Plaza, Taikoo Shing, HK started our day with WU alum Manyee Chow EN ’81, at Sony Pictures Entertainment.  The group was treated to goodie bags filled with Sony products while we learned about the highly competitive industry of motion pictures, international distribution and the challenges of a changing business model within the film industry.

For our next visit, we were especially pleased to visit with current members of the Barclay’s investment banking group, who also hosted us for lunch and good networking conversation.

Back on the MTR, we headed to Quarry Bay to visit Emerson Asia.  The visit ncluded a comprehensive presentation by Henry Ma, Director and Regional Treasurer on the global structure of the multi-national firm headquartered in St. Louis.  Finally, we ended the day back in Central for a Asia Pacific business  briefing by Richard Vuylseke, President, American Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong and members of his team.  We were also joined by alum Vincent Lee, LA’04, head of the WU Hong Kong alumni chapter, and several Olin juniors currently in Hong Kong for spring semester study abroad exchange program.

All in all, this was a very successful trip for Olin and Washington University as we continue to engage in corporate recruiting and networking around the globe.