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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Milton’s Paradise: Situating Hong Kong in Neoliberal Lore

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 4.0 license

The paper presents a critical examination of dominant representations of Hong Kong in free-market and neoliberal thought, focusing on the popular economics of Milton Friedman and the Manichean worldview of the Mont Pèlerin Society. Friedman and his fellow Mont Pèlerinians sanctified Hong Kong as an original and immaculate site of laissez-faire governance, projecting a stylized, selective, and minimally documented vision of a free-market paradise through the popular media, through policy advice, and through universalizing metrics. Persistently recycled as an ideologically affirmative myth, this neoliberal tale equated Hong Kong with a textbook model of free-market development and lean-state capitalism. Hong Kong duly became a “truth spot” (or “faith spot”) for the project of market fundamentalism. As Friedman once reflected of this, his favorite economy, “Hong Kong has been very useful to me.”

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