Will Hong Kong’s next chief executive be gutsy enough to tackle the mainland invasion
Michael Chugani argues that the future is not some Orwellian dystopia – mainlandisation is having a more subtle effect on our homes, offices and universities
Is Hong Kong being mainlandised? You bet. Can we stop it? No, it’s inevitable. Can we slow it? Yes, but it will take gutsy leadership. My version of mainlandisation bears little resemblance to the hit movie Ten Years .
That movie paints a frighteningly mainlandised Hong Kong in 2025 – 10 years after the movie’s 2015 release. People are forced to speak Putonghua, banned from labelling Hong Kong eggs as local eggs, and spied on by Red Guard-like youths.
This Orwellian portrayal seems far-fetched. My definition of mainlandisation is less dystopian. The flood of mainlanders is a visible form of mainlandisation. Over 40 million come a year, far more than anywhere else. Retail, hotel and restaurant staff are not forced to speak Putonghua but must if they want to reap tourist dollars.
What bothers me more is subtle mainlandisation because it has a firmer foothold. It’s already happening yet has not sparked a backlash like with the visitor flood. Surely, we should worry that mainland firms are, should I say, colonising our Central financial district?
Mainland companies paying exorbitant prices grabbed over 40 per cent of office space last year. More are lining up, forcing out international firms unwilling to appease Hong Kong’s greedy landlords who so lust short-term gain they ignore long-term pain.
Our property tycoons, once admired, are now despised for their limitless greed. But they have been humbled in the greed game by the invasion of mainland developers who paid excessive prices to snap up nearly 30 per cent of land sold last year.
Even fools know if you pay outrageous land prices, you must charge outrageous home prices to turn a profit. Not to be outdone in squeezing Hongkongers, local developers are riding the coattails of the mainland invasion by raising home prices.
Invisible mainlandisation has a firm hold in our universities, where the permitted foreign student intake is monopolised by mainlanders. After graduation, they have a year to find a job. Those with jobs can periodically extend their stay until they get permanent residency.
The mainland flood spawned localism, where the independence offshoot grew. Will our next chief executive grasp the gravity of this?
Are they gutsy enough to tighten our free markets by banning mainland developers from buying land?
Dare they stop mainland students from becoming permanent residents and also slash the daily quota of 150 mainland immigrants?