Reputational risks to Hong Kong: What 9,961 articles and 10 years of press coverage tell us

Hong Kong has always been a place of rapid change.  After a tumultuous stretch in 2019 and 2020, we addressed a fundamental risk for Hong Kong: The extent to which the depiction of the Hong Kong 'brand' is changing in the international press. As an international financial center, huge economic decisions hang in the balance, regarding where companies choose to list, and where they choose to invest. 

We put 9,961 The Guardian articles over a period of 10 years through our deep learning-based clustering, revealing three main sections - Finance, culture, and politics - based on the headlines and lead sentences.

Detailed view of the same map

 

The map above can be broken into a detailed view, as below, revealing sub-narratives within each of the broad themes above. 

Time series analysis - The rise of politics/protest/violence narratives

 

We analysed how each of these detailed narratives evolved over time, revealing record-setting spikes in coverage of politics: particularly protests, riots, and crises.  

Hong Kong - a technology laggard?

By contrast to the above, Technology as a narrative has been in a state of long term decline - at least within the Guardian.  Two quarters within the past 2.5 years have set an all time low in technolgy coverage, with zero articles within the technology narrative regarding Hong Kong.  

Narrative time series analysis - taking it further

 Will these patterns in news coverage fundamentally affect Hong Kong's ability to remain attractive as a global hub for investment? Are they merely a reflection of editorial bias by The Guardian?  Only time - or vigilant modelling based on a variety of news sources - will tell.  (Editor's note:  Though the analysis below is based on the Guardian, Phrasia is able to access a variety of sources.)

A key step is to apply this time series data longitudinally to economic outcomes relevant to Hong Kong's performance as a financial center.  How does deal flow, stock market performance, or corporate profitablity in Hong Kong correlate to the ebb and flow of narrative clusters?  This work is currently underway.  You can explore the narratives within the time series analysis by selecting and deselecting narratives from the legend on the right side of the below map.