If Hong Kong people must move over the border, let finance chief go first

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 July, 2017, 4:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 July, 2017, 7:59pm

Though it seems like moving in the opposite direction of being “Asia’s world city”, I cannot disagree with the business development logic of the city cluster in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area that Priscilla Ko Ka-ying extols (“Greater Bay Area will bring many benefits for Hong Kong talents”, July 9).

Where Ms Ko is on thinner ice is believing that this will help solve some social problems and citing as evidence Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po’s suggestion that it would be good for Hongkongers to live in Greater Bay Area cities due to lower housing prices there.

The fact is that there truly is “one country, two systems” for now. There are many aspects of living across the border, including food safety, hygiene, pollution, censorship and neighbourhood watchdog organisations, that may be disagreeable to Hong Kong citizens.

These are real differences and the Hong Kong system is equally attractive to mainlanders as the mainland system is unattractive to many from Hong Kong. While mainland residents coming here grumble about the unfriendly treatment they receive from locals, they can’t wait to trade in their China passports for SAR ones as soon as they are eligible to do so. Clearly there is a value to living in Hong Kong and holding an SAR passport.

There is nothing wrong with migrants choosing to move in pursuit of better economic opportunities, but encouraging migration and squeezing people out of the property market will not cure social unrest.

Hong Kong people have the right to be able to live here and Paul Chan should be concentrating on making sure that housing remains affordable first and foremost to those with the right of permanent abode in Hong Kong.

This will require the property tycoons and government elites, like Chan, to stop running an oligopolistic, wealth-extraction property market. Surely that would cause less social unrest than hundreds of thousands of people moving across the border to places where they can’t use Facebook and have to return home to Hong Kong to buy infant milk powder that they trust.

Since Chan does not appreciate these qualitative differences, perhaps he should set an example and be the first to move to the Greater Bay Area.

Keith Noyes, Clear Water Bay