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Hong Kong set the bar for charter cities. But it's not a blueprint that can be transported

September 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

HONG KONG, CHINA - JULY 30: A couple enjoys their moment at a typhoon shelter during sunset in front of Hong Kong skyline on July 30, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Hong Kong have recorded the highest daily tally of Covid-19 with 149 confirmed cases. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

A lush pocket of northeastern Ireland has been identified as the potential site for a new global city to rival Hong Kong.

Hong Kong (CNN)A lush pocket of northeastern Ireland has been identified as the potential site for a new global city to rival Hong Kong.

Under property developer Ivan Ko's original plans, the charter city "Nextpolis" would be wedged between two of Ireland's largest towns and filled with half a million Hong Kongers taking refuge from political pressures in their home city.

Ko, founder of the international charter city investment company, Victoria Harbour Group (VHG), says his plan for a "new Hong Kong" in Ireland is still on track, despite an apparent lack of progress with Irish authorities.

Hong Kong was itself the original inspiration for many international charter city advocates, Romer included, who saw it as a proof of concept: a city that had operated for decades with a British framework in Asia, and then a unique political and economic system within China.

Ko, the "Nextpolis" founder, told CNN that he had been working on the idea for an Irish-Hong Kong "charter city" since last year, when anti-government unrest rocked Hong Kong, leading many to consider leaving.

Ko is not the only charter city proponent to see this as a potential solution to Hong Kong's current political crisis.

But while these proposals nod to Romer's ideas, in practice they would be very different beasts: Ireland is obviously not a developing country, nor is there any chance of the Hong Kong government getting involved to assist with the building of the new settlement.

Yet Hong Kong is such an attractive example to charter city proponents of a place that exists within a country but governs itself differently that many feel this model can be transferred to another continent, swapping China for Ireland or the UK, to enjoy the same economic success that Hong Kong has in past decades.

In a recent essay "Let's build Hong Kong 2. 0 here in the UK," Sam Bowman, director of competition policy at the International Center for Law & Economics, wrote that "advocates of charter cities want to replicate the success of Hong Kong and Singapore. "

While Hong Kong may have some connection to the idea of an international charter city, building a "new Hong Kong" for migrants in another country is a marked departure from the original concept.

Instead of building a charter city inside a developing country, catering to an existing population in need of work and opportunities, the "new Hong Kong" model relies on Ireland or another government being willing to accept thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of new migrants, on the basis that the proposed city will bring economic benefits.

Wealthy, highly educated migrants can be a boon to the countries they move to, these comments ignore the fact a huge proportion of Hong Kong's population are suffering because of the wealth gap -- and overlook the reality that a new city might not offer the same economic opportunity as their home.

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