Does Hong Kong have a future? Of course, it does – after 2047. But in the next 27 years, it will most likely hit a nadir, both in terms of economic development, technological innovation and social integration with the rest of the country. We have rejected all of them in favour of a wholly (self-) destructive politics. People of sense and goodwill just have to wing it over the next three decades and hope the city won’t be left so far in the dust by southern China and the turbo economy of the Greater Bay Area. “One country, two systems” helped maintain confidence during the transition period of the 1997 handover. But it is now a great hindrance to integration with the rest of the country. It has failed to build cross-border trust; instead, we are now almost in a state of war between people on the two sides, with large segments of the local population having decisively rejected Chinese rule. Who is to blame? We all are. “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” now means Hong Kong people fighting each other: a destructive protest movement that condones extreme violence, a nihilistic opposition and a weak and incompetent government. Our millennial generation has become the aberrant generation. They mistake one country, two systems for a green light to autonomy, independence or just the sheer joy of wreaking havoc. Is there a way out of the deep hole we keep digging deeper for ourselves? Political reform? Economic reform? Realistically, no, though the government must expand and overhaul the social safety net to ameliorate the negative effects of a city in systemic decline. But local people are not likely to come up with any viable long-term solution acceptable to both sides. Only an externally imposed order – “one country, one system” – will resolve the deep divisions and contradictions within our society. For example, job opportunities and social mobility: only the greater southern Chinese economy can offer them for the next generation of young people from Hong Kong. The economic pie in Hong Kong is not big enough. One country, two systems will have died a natural death by 2047, and it will be up to us to rebuild thereafter with help from the rest of the country. There will be no uncertainty after that date: Hong Kong will become “just another mainland city”. Like it or not, that’s the only way out.