Monday, September 29, 2014

Protests in the Kong

I was just reading about the protests underway in Hong Kong and frankly, I'm not surprised.  I'm only surprised that it took so long for the residents to stand up for their future.  Whether they will be successful is another matter.  The protesters are mostly young, like the Tienanmen Square protesters and on a divine mission to fight for their rights against a large and unforgiving government  (we all know how TS came out).  They swear their lives behind the cause and all the stops will be pulled out.  But unlike TS where there was little information about the protests, social media will play a big part as will the media as many international networks have offices in HK.  Many see the outcome of this struggle as a prelude to how China may look like as we move into the future. 

When I visited the Kong about two years ago, I posted that the Kong had changed from being one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities to the land of the 'rude and crude'.  I was surprised how quickly the British influence melted away, and replaced by something very different and far less desirable.  Even the long time residents were complaining about the new influx of mainland Chinese ruing their way of life and hurting their businesses.

Hong Kong depends heavily on tourism and business travelers.  Once a gateway to China, its infrastructure and scenic beauty was a logical stop.  People spoke English and were savvy in business and world events.  There was great shopping and the food was world renown.   With the promise of  'one country two systems', Beijing didn't follow through with that promise and began to meddle in the magic that made HK what it was.  The changes were slow, but very noticeable after a long time away like I experienced.   Hong Kong is definitely at the crossroads of its existence.  Is it going to be just another large city in China or will it be able to re-capture its former self?  These demonstrations will be very interesting to watch.

Hong Kong residents have always felt that they were invulnerable to the demands and rules of Beijing because they were so successful and sophisticated in their business dealings and banking systems.  Unfortunately that has now changed with the growth of other powerhouse cities like Shanghai and Beijing itself, making Hong Kong no long vital to China's existence and business success.   Its very likely, and unfortunate,  that HK will be dealt with very harshly to keep other cities from thinking of doing the same thing -- its the pattern of how the PRC has behaved with other 'misbehaving' regions - come down hard with an iron fist.

I am hoping that Beijing will realize that what made Hong Kong so special was not the tall buildings, the scenic venue,  or its resorts like Disneyland, but its the people and how they felt in an open and free environment of capitalism.  Don't kill the goose that is laying the golden egg!

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