Crowds are irrational everywhere, and social media hardly helps. Yet the palpable anxiety in coronavirus-hit Hong Kong these days suggests worrying levels of distrust in a city where citizens have always expected private enterprise at least, if not the state, to keep things ticking over. Both have failed miserably, preparing inadequately even after the SARS outbreak that killed almost 300 people in the city in 2003.
A fragile state is usually defined by its inability to protect citizens, to provide basic services and by questions over the legitimacy of its government. After an epidemic and months of poorly handled pro-democracy demonstrations, Hong Kong is ticking most of those boxes. Add in a strained judicial system, and the prognosis for its future as a financial hub looks poor.