Student banners are merely the result of Hong Kong genuinely moving with the times
The recent conflict could be viewed by some, as a sensitive matter highlighting a crucial part of Hong Kong’s future economic development
We all fully appreciate the political and geopolitical implications of today’s global interconnectedness provided by the internet, and recently in Hong Kong one issue gained extra attention around the world, which illustrates just how powerful this can play out – the appearance of pro-independence banners and posters at some Hong Kong educational institutions.
Depending on how it is resolved – if ever – the conflict could be viewed by some, as a sensitive matter highlighting a crucial part of Hong Kong’s future economic development.
Whether it is possible to be truly creative in the intellectual and business sense when the government is accused of wishing to selectively suppress or censor the expression of free, but offensive, thought will play a strong part in illustrating if the economy can reinvent itself.
The demographic problem here is that anyone over the age of 50 in Hong Kong grew up in a city and economy that is totally different than today’s generation.
Through the 1970s to 1990s, horse race betting was considered the intellectual and social high point in Hong Kong. Simple businesses like trading and property development didn’t require much innovation.
Today, few young people gravitate towards the old habits of Hong Kong, as the internet provides more than enough of a universe of entertainment, opportunity and intellectual stimulation.
Even the implementation of national education and Article 23 will probably not change how Hong Kong’s young people will think as they continue to have free access to alternative ideas.
History has shown that jailing activists will not curtail subversive thinking. Yet subversive thinking is a necessary predicate for invention.
I would argue that stronger emphasis of what underpins the unachievable cry for local independence should be pointed towards the oligarchies that oppress new economic growth and enforce the dangerous status quo of the property market.
Increasing public housing by recycling corrugated shipping containers may be an adequate low income housing solution in Vancouver – but for a city as wealthy as Hong Kong, more bold solutions need to be taken against how the mighty property cartel operates.
Yet when I talk about our oligarch economy to government officials they run away as if one wanted to speak ill about Lord Voldemort of Harry Potter.
You’ll only know if you are doing the right thing against the property and conglomerate groups if they actually complain to Beijing.
But the days when much of the population were too uneducated to understand what is really going wrong with the economy and politics because they were too busy making plastic flowers or pulling rickshaws has long faded into history.
Our open internet is the single biggest difference seen at home, and by those outside, between Hong Kong and mainland society.
Unless the government decides to censor Hong Kong’s internet – which would be an act of economic suicide – it is likely that any independence blogs will be drowned, much like President Trump’s tweets.
Chinese culture does not celebrate American style individualism, which measures social progress in terms of the protection of individual rights and freedoms.
This mismatch is readily seen in the sharp differences between American and Chinese conceptions of the state, economics and the role of individuals.
Hong Kong Chinese have benefited from western-style freedom without knowing or appreciating it. Yet some try to dissect and segregate it, so they have just have enough freedom to do business while trading the other away for expediency and to allay Beijing’s worst fears. Such naive belief is like a deal with Mephistopheles: it usually ends in tears.
Hong Kong business will ultimately suffer if action against the independent movement spirals towards ultimate conclusion by the mainland.
Any suppression and monitoring of thought and behaviour at Hong Kong’s universities will spell the end of Hong Kong educational institutions’ acclaimed credibility and research efforts.
Leading academics would never consider a post at a university where intellectual freedom swings with the winds of political correctness with Beijing.
Hong Kong officials and business figures need to convince the central government that a free society might necessarily be tolerated, as a sometimes messy and noisy affair.