In nearly every regard, 2020 was a rather strange and unusual year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and various rounds of government restrictions, one of the biggest changes at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong was a significant decrease in the number of club lunches featuring guest speakers we were able to host compared to previous years. (And the introduction of Zoom events!)
Still, when it was safe to do so (and when government restrictions allowed for it), the FCC managed to welcome a variety of notable guests throughout the year. Here’s a look back at the lineup of speakers we hosted in 2020.
January 9: Professor Niall Ferguson
We kicked off the year by hosting Professor Niall Ferguson, an accomplished author, historian and public intellectual, to discuss a wide variety of topics. Predictions he made included the likelihood of a naval conflict between China and the United States, and that Boris Johnson will still be Britain’s prime minister in 2025.
January 14: District Council Elections Panel
In the aftermath of Hong Kong’s November 2019 district council elections, we invited Lo Kin-hei, Derek Yuen and Christine Fong to discuss the city’s political future. The three panelists agreed that Hongkongers would “come out and strike again” to show their dissatisfaction with the government.
January 21: Nick Frisch
The life and art of Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese dissident and Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, was the subject of Nick Frisch’s talk at the FCC. Frisch first interviewed Liu when he was writing for The New Yorker.
January 22: Policing Hong Kong’s Police Panel
In response to widespread dissatisfaction with the Hong Kong Police Force, we invited Dr. Lawrence Ho, Clement Lai and Doriane Lau to discuss how public trust could be rebuilt. The panelists agreed that significant changes needed to be made to policing in Hong Kong.
February 20: Rebuilding Hong Kong Panel
Rebuilding Hong Kong in the aftermath of the protests was the subject of a panel discussion featuring Anson Chan and Dr. Priscilla Leung. The need for a new Chief Executive as well as an independent inquiry into the protests were both proposed as ways to help the city move forward.
February 26: COVID-19 Panel
Our first COVID-focused event of the year was a panel discussion featuring Professor Keiji Fukuda, Dr. Arisina Ma, Elizabeth Cheung and Odile Thiang. The panelists discussed the mental and physical challenges facing Hong Kong in the early months of the pandemic.
March 18: Matthew Marsh
With the motor racing season delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, we welcomed Formula 1 analyst and Fox Sports Asia presenter Matthew Marsh to the club. The former professional racing driver gave insights into the personalities of some of the world’s top Formula One drivers and shared anecdotes from the press pit.
July 7: National Security Law/Press Freedom Panel
Following a hiatus of several months, we resumed in-person events with this panel discussion of the National Security Law’s effects on Hong Kong journalists, held one week after the law was enacted in Beijing. Panelists Sharron Fast, Antony Dapiran, Keith B. Richburg agreed that journalists needed to be more serious about protecting sources and information given the new law.
July 14: Hong Kong Economy Panel
As the pandemic took its toll on local businesses, we invited business owners Syed Asim Hussain and Douglas Young to speak alongside economist Alicia García Herrero about the city’s economic prospects. The panelists agreed that businesses should be proactive and seize the opportunities brought about by the pandemic.
November 12: Antony Dapiran
After another hiatus from in-person events, the author of City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong, Antony Dapiran joined us to discuss the legacy of the 2019 protests. Dapiran also talked about the weakening of the Legislative Council and the deleterious effects of the National Security Law on the rule of law in Hong Kong.
November 19: Jake van der Kamp
Veteran financial columnist Jake van der Kamp, author of The Rise and Fall of the Hang Seng Index, joined us to share his philosophy on investing and talk about his time covering the markets. His main takeaway? Trust yourself, not investment advisers.
December 3: Weijian Shan
PAG CEO and chairman Weijian Shan spoke about his recently published book Money Games: The Inside Story of How American Dealmakers Saved Korea’s Most Iconic Bank. He also discussed how private equity has transformed Asian economies in the past two decades.