OLD Media Moves

Former Fortune Asian editor dies

March 13, 2006

Louis Kraar was most famous for his Fortune cover article in 1995 that predicted the demise of Hong Kong after it was given to the Chinese. He died of a heart attack in Manhattan last week at the age of 71, according to media reports.

Louis KraarAmong the first American journalists to recognise the rising influence of Asia on the global economy, Kraar had written about the region for more than three decades. One of his most controversial articles was “The Death of Hong Kong,” which Fortune ran as a cover story in June 1995, two years before the handover. In the article, he predicted Hong Kong would become a global backwater or just another mainland city. The article was highly controversial. (Google “The death of Hong Kong” and see how many hits you find.)

On Sept. 10, 2001, Time magazine followed up on the article. You can read the Time article here.

Kraar wrote that all local officials would be monitored by hundreds of Chinese Communist Party functionaries, the city’s elected legislature would be replaced with appointed members, Beijing’s earlier pledges to maintain the city’s judicial independence would be brushed aside, and Hong Kong’s independent currency would be replaced with the yuan.

However, the 2001 Fortune Global Forum was again held in Hong Kong.

Kraar began his career as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in 1956, and first traveled to Asia in 1961 for that newspaper, accompanying President John F. Kennedy’s advisors General Maxwell Taylor and Walt Rostow on their mission to assess America’s growing involvement in Vietnam. After visiting Hong Kong and Tokyo on the same trip, he joined Time magazine later that year as its Pentagon correspondent with a promise that he would soon be assigned to Asia, and was the magazine’s bureau chief in New Delhi, Bangkok, and Singapore from 1963-1973.

Kraar joined Fortune magazine in 1973, and was from 1983-1988 based in Hong Kong as its Asia editor, interpreting for American and regional audiences the region’s dramatic economic and political developments.

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