The Great Disruption: Covid-19, Geopolitics, Trade And Technology Will Challenge Entire Business Sectors

Natalie Blyth, Global Head of HSBC’s trade finance business, recently shared her views on how the world will change as a result of Covid-19 and other geopolitical challenges. Blyth oversees the approximately $750 billion of trade annually that HSBC facilitates with 2 million clients and is well-positioned to see the changes underway in the global landscape.

The summary: Look for more geopolitical tensions and new technologies to continue a period of great disruption in supply chains, business models, and consumer behavior. Asia will continue to rise but companies will be hurt by continuing Sino-U.S. tension. There will be a thickening of ties between different regions, such as Latin America and Asia. Labor cost differences will matter less, technology use more. Corporate purpose will be under increased scrutiny.

This is disruption on a scale we’ve never seen. Read more in my Forbes post.

North Korea’s Strategy To Grab America’s Attention With Explosive Displays

Count on the North Koreans to make a statement with a bang. Literally. Blowing up a liaison office that was supposed to serve as a symbol of good relations between the brother-enemies on the Korean peninsula sends a message. Especially when the June 16 big bang apparently was ordered by Sister Number One, Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sibling and a potential successor. Read more in my Forbes post.

Hong Kong Activist Investor David Webb: ‘Unfortunately, There Are Going To Be Some Changes Around Here’

American humorist Mark Twain, very much alive in London in 1895, famously responded to rumors that he was dying of poverty with the telegraphed quip: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” Hong Kong governance activist David Webb may have done Mark Twain one better by using an internet blast to announce he had been diagnosed with cancer. Read my Forbes post on an extraordinary individual, one who has made a real difference in Hong Kong.

After the Covid Panic: Three Lessons for Business

The panic is past. But the pandemic is still with us. Businesses are preparing for a world in which the Covid-19 virus and other pandemic diseases are a recurring feature. What will this new landscape look like? Conversations with Asia Business Council members, who together directly employ some 3 million people, suggest three highlights. Read more in my Forbes post.

Inside Asia’s Steve Stine interviews Mark Clifford on the rise of Asia and what it means for the environment

In an interview with Steve Stine, Chief Executive Insider at Inside Asia, Asia Business Council Executive Director Mark Clifford discusses the economic rise of Asia, why economic growth has been such a disaster for the environment, his book The Greening of Asia: The Business Case for Solving Asia’s Environmental Emergency, and whether China is ready to fill the global leadership role in fighting climate change. http://www.insideasiapodcast.com/episode-14/

Millennial Hong Kong Defies the Aging People’s Republic of China

My segment on the John Batchelor Show about Hong Kong’s millennials and the generational shift in stance that’s seeing young Hong Kongers becoming increasingly skeptical about mainland China. We discussed Beijing’s unseating of two pro-independence Hong Kong legislators, the mainland’s slow squeeze of Hong Kong’s democratic forces, and the increasing support for a more “localist” Hong Kong identity.

The full interview can be accessed here.

Colonial Beijing & Civil Unrest in Hong Kong

Asia Business Council Executive Director Mark Clifford spoke on the John Batchelor Show regarding the recent civil unrest in Hong Kong. Questions raised include: Who’s running Hong Kong? Does it have the high degree of autonomy it was promised in post-1997 arrangements or is Beijing calling the shots? What is the relationship with China?

The full interview can be accessed here.

Donald Trump’s Joseph McCarthy Moment: ‘Have You No Sense Of Decency, Sir?’

When Senator Joseph McCarthy implied on nationwide television that a young Boston lawyer was a communist, Army Counsel Joseph Welch stood up for his colleague and famously rebuked the Wisconsin senator:

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness….Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Welch’s famous interchange with McCarthy, when an honorable man stood up to a bully, is seen as a moment when the country started to turn against McCarthy’s witch hunt.

Perhaps a later generation will look back at Khizr Khan and see a similar turning point.

For it is Khan, the humble soft-spoken Muslim immigrant father whose son was killed in Iraq heroically running toward a suicide car bomber and thus saving the lives of his fellow soldiers, who has landed some of the most telling blows against Trump.

“Have you even read the United States Constitution?” Khan challenged Trump from the stage at the Democratic National Convention. “Look for the words liberty and equal protection under the law.”

It is the calm and reasonable Khan, the grieving father, who speaks of the need for candidates to have a “moral compass” and “empathy,” and challenged Republican party leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan to disavow Trump.

The New York tycoon is “incapable of empathy,” Khan said sorrowfully, asking that Trump’s family counsel him: “he will be a better person,” if he gets help.

Trump is a “black soul” who is “totally unfit for the leadership of this beautiful country.”

Donald Trump’s furious and unremitting attacks on the Khan family in response to the DNC speech may display a callousness too far.

Trump challenged Humayun Khan’s mother Ghazala to talk, which she did, tearfully, on television shows, telling of her son’s last phone call to her, on Mother’s Day 2004.

Ghazala Khan wrote in the Washington Post:  “Donald Trump said I had nothing to say. I do. My son Humayun Khan, an Army captain, died 12 years ago in Iraq. He loved America, where we moved when he was 2 years old….Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?”

Trump, whose series of draft deferments ensured that he did not see service in Vietnam, has a different idea of service and of sacrifice. “I think I have made a lot of sacrifices,” Trump told talk show host George Stephanopoulos.

“I’ve worked very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures … I’ve had tremendous success.” When Stephanopoulos asked whether Trump really meant that these were sacrifices, Trump replied: “Oh, sure. I think they’re sacrifices.”

When Trump was asked what he would say to Khizr Khan, Trump responded, “I’d say ‘We’ve had a lot of problems with radical Islamic terrorism.’”

To which Joseph Welch might have responded: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Perhaps not. Trump counted Roy Cohn, who was Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel and Welch’s sparring partner in the hearings, as a close friend. History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme sometimes.

It has taken a Muslim immigrant couple, soft-spoken Gold Star parents, to ensure that Americans we hear a gentler counterpoint to Trump’s angry rhythms.