Hong Kong blind to China's renaissance

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2012, 12:00am


We don't like mainland Chinese. It's now very clear. By 'we' I mean Hong Kong Chinese, who are predominantly Cantonese speakers. We don't like our state leaders, who interfere in our affairs and undermine our core values like the rule of law, civil liberties and the aspiration for full democracy.

We don't like rich mainlanders, who buy our best homes, push up property prices and price us out of the market. They turn our luxury-brand shops into their exclusive havens, making us feel like second-class citizens.

We despise poor mainlanders who try to give birth in Hong Kong to gain residency for their children, and occupy our public maternity wards. Others who manage to stay here legally exploit our social welfare and free education service. Or really?

Under the guise of 'one country, two systems' and the noble struggle for democracy, we have become smug and insufferable. We shall be a model for our backward and inferior brethren. Cheered on by the Western media and our own expatriate commentariat, we think we are so superior to mainland Chinese. We have increasingly rejected integration with the rest of the country, at least when it comes to culture, identity and nationalism. This is borne out repeatedly by surveys. The latest by the University of Hong Kong in June found almost 44 per cent identified themselves solely as Hong Kong citizens.

That's all very well except for one fundamental and insurmountable condition: we depend on the mainland for our economic and physical survival. Separation or independence is not an option. So, what do we really want? Where do we go from here?

Many societies have similar problems. In Israel, Ashkenazi Jews, or those with European roots, are often accused of looking down on Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, those originally from Andalucia, North Africa and the Middle East. In Canada, French speakers from Quebec do not mix well with the rest of the English-speaking country. But these societies are fully aware of the problems and tackle them actively.

We are not even close to having such an awareness, blind as we are to the renaissance across China.