The year 2020 changed the entire world. A once-in-a-century pandemic has rendered what we took for granted impossible to attain. The international order, which was at a historical crossroads, is now surrounded by mists of uncertainty, which make it hard to make out the road ahead. Hong Kong is weighed down by worries, and many people are at a loss what to do next. As a new year has come, the hope of the people is no doubt the coming of blissful times after the world plumbed the depths of misfortunes as well as great construction after so much destruction. However, the possibility of things continuing their downward trend, so much so that there will only be destruction but no construction, can absolutely not be underestimated. At the turn of the year, the roll-out of vaccines and a new occupant of the White House will bring about change to the world. However, it remains uncertain when the pandemic will be brought under control and whether the global economy can rebound strongly. The swearing-in of Biden will mean a new phase of China-US rivalry, and Hong Kong cannot stand in brilliant isolation. Whether the crazy rides of the stock markets, triggered by the money-printing of advanced nations, will reach even more highs or pave the way for a burst of the bubbles will also affect Hong Kong.
Global development is guided by some general trends. Economic globalisation and the headwind it has run into, the rise of China and the emergence of right-wing populism in the West are the most influential general trends of the first 20 years of the 21st century. At the same time, some unexpected "black swan" incidents also changed the trajectory of historical development. The 9/11 attacks upon the US in 2001, the financial crisis of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic last year were such "black swan" incidents. These three historical events have had repercussions across the world and have affected the US and the West particularly deeply.
Some people believe that the 21st century is the century of Asia, and that the pandemic has accelerated China's rise and the US's decline. It is impossible to verify that theory at present. But without doubt the world's historical development has reached an important crossroads. If it is said that the year 2020 was a year when the virus wrought havoc on the world, many people have regarded the year 2021 as the year when humans fight back. In this global war against the pandemic, the country that has the last laugh will be in an advantageous position in the post-pandemic global order the way the victorious nations enjoyed an advantage after the Second World War. Countries like the US and the UK have pinned high hopes on the vaccines that they develop, not only because they offer the only hope to contain the virus in their countries, but also because they show that the technological strength of the West is still the pride of the world, which can turn things around. Looking forward at the year 2021, the roll-out of vaccines will definitely help advanced nations in Europe and America control the pandemic. The question is whether vaccines will turn the whole situation around.
After Biden is sworn in as president, the US's policies towards China might be adjusted, but the overall situation of rivalry will be difficult to change. It is certain that Biden will continue to suppress China's technological development and actively line up the US's traditional allies to contain China. As Hong Kong is a battlefield of the nations' rivalry, it cannot stand in splendid isolation. After so much time, Hong Kong remains unable to break free from the vicious loops of the pandemic. The difficulties facing the economy and people's livelihoods pile up. The political uncertainties have yet to be eliminated. There are many hidden dangers in the external political and economic situations. The new year will be a year of many potential worries. The government should act carefully and pay attention.