Artwork for podcast Charter Cities Podcast
Building a New Hong Kong with Ivan Ko
Episode 813th July 2020 • Charter Cities Podcast • Kurtis Lockhart
00:00:00 01:15:01

Share Episode


As the political landscape in Hong Kong shifts, many residents are looking to migrate to Western countries. This creates immigration problems, especially as some Hong Kongers won’t meet the investment requirements needed to move to cities with established Hong Kong expat communities. Today’s guest, Ivan Ko, is the founder and CEO of Victoria Harbour Group, an organization with the bold idea to create international charter cities in Western countries for Hong Kong immigrants to move into. Our conversation begins as Ivan explains the benefit his proposed charter cities will have for their host countries. Built in areas with low local populations to minimize disruption, each city will aim to fit an economic niche. We discuss why this might be an attractive proposition considering the economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ivan discusses the challenges of building charter cities and reveals that, despite immigration being a hot-button political issue, the perception of Hong Kong residents as industrious and highly educated has added political support to the idea of migration. We speak about how the people of Hong Kong have a unique identity that allows them to easily assimilate into Western systems. After sharing the inspiration for his idea, Ivan draws historical comparisons between the Puritans arriving in America on the Mayflower and how many Hong Kongers will migrate to pursue democracy and freedom. Throughout the discussion, Ivan highlights how his charter cities will benefit locals. At the end of the episode, Ivan shares his thoughts on what makes a livable city, Victoria Harbour Group’s role in developing charter cities, and how their model is influenced by Silicon Valley. Reflecting Hong Kong’s meteoric rise, Ivan wants each charter city to be a ‘miracle city.’ Listen to this episode to learn what that might look like.

Key Points From This Episode:

•   Ivan’s mission — to build a city for Hong Kong migrants in a democratic country.

•   Why so many Hong Kong residents want to migrate to other countries.

•   Ivan explains the economic benefit that this new city will have for its host country.

•   The benefits of migrating to Ivan’s city as opposed to cities with existing expat communities.

•   Why Ivan has an urgent timeline to complete the first international charter city.

•   What we can expect regarding the scale of each international charter city. 

•   The critical factors involved in choosing a site to build each city.

•   How Hong Kong’s ‘brand name’ has been crucial in generating political support.

•   How an international charter city might be a solution to mass migration.

•   The dangers of over-planning a city and how this can affect a city’s livability.

•   Detailing the sectors in which Hong Kong migrants can help local economies.

•   How Hong Kong migrants might specifically benefit the U.S. economy.

•   Why Hong Kong values lead to an easy assimilation into Western systems.

•   Learn why Ivan thinks that this is the best time to start creating charter cities in the West.

•   Ivan shares his experiences and what led to the idea of having a Hong Kong charter city.

•   How Ivan responds to scepticism and naysayers who don’t believe in his project.

•   Ivan discusses the challenges facing the establishment of charter cities.

•   How crucial Ivan’s high-caliber, talented staff are going to actualize his plan.

•   Ivan’s model; a hybrid between a tech startup, and a city development business

•   Why developing charter cities should not affect Hong Kong or mainland China.

•   Elements and systems needed to create a working charter city.

•   Hear what one of these international charter cities might look like.

•   What factors make for a livable city; walkability, community interaction, and beautification.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Ivan Ko on LinkedIn

Charter Cities Institute

Charter Cities Institute on Twitter

Charter Cities Institute on Facebook

Paul Romer on Charter Cities and What We’ve Learned Since Then

Paul Romer

The Long-term Stock Exchange

Andreessen Horowitz

Dr. Simon Shen — Victoria Harbour Group Co-founder

How Britain could become home to a new Hong Kong

Samuel Lai — Victoria Harbour Group CFO


Kelvin Kwok — Victoria Harbour Group CIO and COO

Larry Page

Mark Lutter on Twitter