If we here at CER had a penny for every time friends offered us a ride in their yacht or private jet, we’d collectively have zero pennies. The same cannot be said of Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang, who at a press conference this week sheepishly pulled some pennies out of the folds of his bow tie and confessed to accepting two private jet trips and two yacht excursions during his time in office. However, Tang said that his private yacht ride included only a simple breakfast, including fruit, congee, and two freshly-baked Cinnabon rolls (“but only the low-carb kind because it’s not ‘bad fat,’” Tsang added, referring to his South Beach Diet plan). He also said that out of principle, the chief executive evaluates any potential conflict of interest before accepting gifts, and later compensates the giver. But because Mastercard defines private jet rides with friends to Phuket as “priceless,” his one-time payment of HK$0 (US$0) was “pretty close to fair value.” Just to be safe, Tsang also passed some tycoon-friendly policies for good measure. To create “a sense of continuity,” Henry Tang, Beijing’s favored candidate to replace Tsang, secretly constructed a 2,250-square-foot basement complete with a gym, movie theater and wine-tasting room. Local media rented nearby property cranes to peer into his compound walls, creating an uproar. In a show of unity, both Tsang and Tang have agreed to go “cold turkey” on private yachts and jets for two weeks to atone for their sins.
See Egypt in your Panda
Thanks perhaps to this surfeit of yacht rides and free maotai (always helps the mood, except when it doesn’t), China-based CFOs were shown this week to be more optimistic about their business prospects than their counterparts in any other country in the Asia-Pacific. Of course, some China-based companies have difficulty exiting the fuzzy bubble of government support and a nice media who welcome hongbaos and emerging into the real world. Case in point, that strategic pillar Zhejiang Geely Holdings, which recently announced a turn toward North Africa after being cruelly rebuffed by the West. Geely’s Panda and Embrand 7 sedan models already poll favorably in Egypt, thanks to a shared appreciation for dark-tinted windows, surprisingly comfortable massage beads and horns that, when honked, shoot out force fields to deflect oncoming vehicles. Analysts said Chinese auto exports are gaining momentum in emerging markets such as Egypt, Ukraine and Indonesia, which share a mutual appreciation for cars that look like they could be used to explore asteroid belts. “[The West was] way more difficult than we had ever imagined,” said Xing Wenlin, vice president at Great Wall Motor. “We need to go beyond the China market to survive.” To the center of the earth it is!