When the Lion Rock Institute asked me to sign its petition against possible antitrust laws for Hong Kong, the decision was a no-brainer. After all, I oppose antitrust laws. At best, antitrust laws are unnecessary, legislating outcomes that free competition would have given us anyway. In practice, they’re a recipe for scapegoating of successful firms, frivolous lawsuits, and bizarre shakedowns.

But even if you don’t agree with my assessment, antitrust laws are clearly pointless for small open economies like Hong Kong. A country with 7 million people couldn’t make the world economy more competitive if it tried. But if Hong Kong decided to give antitrust laws a chance, it could tarnish its world-class reputation for minimal regulation and a secure legal climate.

The upshot: Even if you’re a mainstream economist who thinks my general critique of antitrust is overblown, you should still grant that for Hong Kong, I’m right. And doesn’t the fact that Hong Kong’s made it this far without antitrust give you a moment’s pause about the domestic benefits of these laws?