Paul answers questions about charter cities from Center for Global Development vice president Lawrence MacDonald.
Q: To some people, this is going to sound like a new version of colonialism or imperialism. Is it?
A: Let me pose a related question: Suppose a family from Haiti is granted the right to live in Vancouver as permanent residents but not as Canadian citizens. Is it colonialism or imperialism to offer this option to them? Or for them to accept? Because the family would be free to make the choice about whether to live in Canada, the answer is plainly no.
In the same way, charter cities are based entirely on voluntary actions. Only a country that wants to establish a charter city will do so. Only people who want to live and work under the rules specified in the city’s charter will move there. Free choice is essential for the legitimacy of the rules in a charter city. It is also what makes a charter city very different from colonial occupation.