15 October 2018
The best way to defend the pro-Beijing Hong Kong establishment from Occupy Central. Photo: HKEJ,
The best way to defend the pro-Beijing Hong Kong establishment from Occupy Central. Photo: HKEJ,

Beijing’s new weapon against Occupy Central: iPhone 6

Here’s one kind of foreign intervention that Hong Kong would most certainly welcome.

And forget about Occupy Central and universal suffrage. All these political discussions will have to give way to the latest talk of the town.

Yes, we’re talking about iPhone 6, which will drive Hong Kong like crazy when it becomes available in the city starting next week.

Thanks to Apple, Hong Kong has rediscovered its edge as China’s leading city. It is Hong Kong, not Beijing or Shanghai, which has been chosen to be among the first batch of cities where the new product will be sold.

With its marketing savvy, Apple knows only too well that the best way to sell in a vast market such as China is to create the demand. And what better way to do it than to start in Hong Kong with its cosmopolitan chic and vibrant media scene? 

The one-week lead time opens the door for arbitrage for enterprising Hongkongers who can order the most expensive of Apple’s latest products, the 128-gigabyte iPhone 6 Plus, at HK$8,088, which could then be resold for over HK$20,000.

A good friend of mine who has three kids said he would go online tomorrow for the treasure hunt, aiming to chance upon a “buy one, get one free” offer.

That would be the best deal in town, not to mention the extra points he would earn for his credit card purchase.

“I’d say iPhone is better than iBond,” he enthuses, adding that it’s almost as good as winning a mini lottery because one is entitled to buy two sets.

In endorsing Beijing’s electoral reform framework, former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa espoused a win-win philosophy by stressing that “Hong Kong is good as long as China is good”. Hong Kong’s iPhone arbitrageurs follow a different economic principle: “Your loss is my gain.”

Hong Kong’s one-week advantage will mean a gain of a few thousand dollars for phone dealers in Mong Kok. No wonder mainlanders are recruiting warm bodies to line up outside the Apple store for 1,000 yuan a day.

Beijing must be snickering at the right timing of this unexpected blessing. The thorny issue of how to maintain Hong Kong’s stability and harmony on the eve of Occupy Central suddenly disappears as iPhone 6 becomes the major preoccupation of most Hongkongers — at least until the end of the month.

Instead of complaining about foreign intervention, Beijing should welcome Apple’s invasion of the city. Hong Kong people will march and line up in the streets, but it’s not for democracy.

True, we may not have Alibaba or democracy yet, but we have iPhone Six and Mark Six.

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EJ Insight writer

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