Independent Hong Kong isn't on anyone's agenda

Victor Fung Keung says people are just resorting to extreme means to vent their frustrations

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 3:16am

Chen Zuoer, the former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing and a key negotiator during the 1997 handover, said recently that "a force calling for Hong Kong independence has been gaining momentum in recent years, and it has spread like a virus".

He needn't worry; there is no independence force, or virus.

Not for an instant would I or hundreds of others ever believe that an independence movement could take root in this city. Our water, fuel and food - without which we couldn't survive - all come from the mainland. Physically or politically, Hong Kong could never become independent.

Chen, an extremely patriotic Chinese citizen, can rest easy. No political party in Hong Kong ever talks of the slight possibility of an independent Hong Kong, and their political platforms, including those of the powerful Democratic Party and Civic Party, never offer hints that advocating independence is one of their goals.

I am also pretty sure none of the major think tanks in Hong Kong has called on the city to go its own way.

So why did Chen make such an alarmist statement? The timing of his warning betrays him, coming when he was in Hong Kong last month to launch a book, Negotiations on The Handover of Sovereignty of Hong Kong: A Witness Recount, in which he shares his experiences of the Sino-British negotiations over Hong Kong's future.

Most middle- and working-class Hongkongers, myself included, cherish the stable political, social and economic environment that enables us to make a living.

No one in this prosperous world city wants to start a revolution. Tycoons such as Li Ka-shing and Lee Shau-kee also love a stable Hong Kong so local and foreign investors will continue buying properties and boosting their profits.

Chen, who retired in 2008, also told a reporter that he was "heartbroken" to see a picture of a Hong Kong colonial flag being waved by a protester in Sheung Shui shouting at "parallel traders" to "return to the mainland".

However, this was an isolated case. Sheung Shui residents say they have grown weary of hordes of cross-border professional shoppers pushing up the prices of milk powder and other daily commodities, and so resort to extreme means to drive home their point - such as wearing "Satan" masks or waving colonial flags. These are just expressions of anger, nothing more.

As long as we can enjoy the freedoms promised to us in the Basic Law, no one will waste their time and energy in fighting for an independent Hong Kong.

Victor Fung Keung, a local commentator who has published seven books on English enhancement, is co-ordinator of the B.S.Sc in financial journalism programme at Hong Kong Baptist University