My Take

Why Hong Kong localism has no future

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 June, 2015, 1:55am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 8:36pm

Hong Kong has no future unless it can figure out a way to coexist with the mainland. That is why the radical rejectionism of so-called localists is a dead end.

It's especially tragic that many localists are young people, whose future might be considerably brightened if they were willing to explore new opportunities created by the economic rise of China, and learn mainland culture and language. Alas, disappointed by their poor local prospects, yet unable or unwilling to look for opportunities elsewhere, they are stuck in Hong Kong.

And raised by a strong sense of entitlement and a false feeling of superiority over mainlanders while being basically ignorant of the outside world, they idealise our city that in reality has no real moral, intellectual or spiritual substance.

In virtually all endeavours of human value, in the arts and sciences, in cultural tradition and history, in business daring and artistic creativity, it's to mainland China you need to turn, not tiny Hong Kong.

We do have our advantages: our freedoms are real, despite our lack of democracy; and our level of public corruption is considerably lower than that on the mainland.

These are worth preserving and fighting for. But both freedom and corruptibility are relative. And our fight to preserve our uniqueness and advantages does not, and should not, equate to anti-mainland sentiments and actions.

The average mainland urbanite is much freer and materially better off than any time in the last century and a half. The Communist Party's anti-corruption drive remains a work in progress. But we should never underestimate the party's ability to renew itself and adapt to new circumstances. A richer and freer China will just speed ahead of Hong Kong.

The oft-cited warning about Hong Kong becoming "just another Chinese city" betrays our own arrogance and ignorance. Many leading mainland cities have a depth and human interest our own city simply cannot match.

Like it or not, our future, good or bad, is China. Even if you idolise the West, remember that most Westerners have no real interest in Hong Kong by itself except as a passageway or transit point to the mainland.

Hong Kong either gets on that unstoppable bandwagon that is China or it will just get left behind.