Hong Kong protests: City must realise its true value to China to weather the political storm
- Hong Kong’s protests have been driven by deep domestic concerns, and exacerbated and exploited by international politics
- While Beijing should try easing local fears over judicial transparency, Hongkongers should embrace Chinese identity
These events have completely overwhelmed the Hong Kong government, which is mostly trained in peacetime administration, not to handle crises of this scale and intensity.
Over the past few decades, while Hong Kong focused on economic growth, government and the community at large have allowed the education system to be infiltrated with anti-China material, imbuing the present generation with bias.
The burgeoning middle class in China understands that economic prosperity depends on social stability and seems willing to accept limited political freedom as a prize for ever-expanding social mobility and economic freedom. China’s high savings rate is also an important buffer against global economic volatility.
The US flag-waving protesters in Hong Kong chanting for freedom and democracy have provided a convenient platform for the US to intensify pressure on China in difficult trade negotiations.
The Taiwanese government is eager to use the chaos in Hong Kong to show that Beijing’s “one country, two systems” model of governance has failed in Hong Kong and should not be applied to the island. This toxic mix of external forces, coupled with deep social fissures, is the dry timber set alight by the mismanagement of the extradition bill.
After more than 150 years of British colonial rule, reversion to communist rule is daunting for many. While fear of the unknown is normal, Hong Kong is and always will be a part of China. Hong Kong’s importance to China lies not in economics but in China’s realisation of territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
While China should work on legal transparency, Hongkongers should embrace their cultural heritage and identity. Senseless destruction by young people is not a winning strategy to convince Beijing to grant Hong Kong greater freedom.
The combination of negative encounters with mainland Chinese and a new sense of inadequacy in reaction to mainland Chinese overachievement in schools and the workplace has resulted in rejection and self-seclusion. National reunification takes understanding, patience and adjustment from all stakeholders to achieve lasting harmony.
With a better understanding of China’s recent history and the true value of Hong Kong to China, the people of Hong Kong will realise that the safest place in the storm is in the eye of the storm itself.
Robert Lee is non-executive chairman of Pacific Century Premium Developments Limited