Hong Kong’s future, whether bleak or bright, lies in the north. That has always been the case since Britain agreed to return the city to China. Several factors obscure this inescapable reality for the younger generation. The new national security and anthem laws will, hopefully, force them to recognise this truism, which may not be of their own choosing, but is something they will have to live with. Their resistance and rebellion are perfectly understandable. Let’s hope it will only be a proverbial phase they are going through. Otherwise, they, and Hong Kong, will find themselves in a world of hurt. Tear gas fired, arrests made as thousands protest against national security law First, there is identity politics. Freed from British colonialism yet shielded from mainland Chinese influence for much of their lives, our millennials have developed a local identity. They may be ultimately Chinese subjects but they don’t at all feel like them. In fact, for many locals, mainlanders feel more like foreigners or worse, foreign invaders. This has led to a parochialism that makes our youth turn inward, rather than outward, and which encourages them to defend a stagnant society with an economic pie that won’t be getting bigger rather than seeking fortunes in a much bigger pie up north. Then, there is the constitutional set-up of “one country, two systems” under the Basic Law. “A high degree of autonomy”, “no change for 50 years”, “no mainland interference outside of defence and foreign affairs” – some Hong Kong people take them literally to mean we would be left alone with no mainland input in local affairs tantamount to a state of independence in all but name. But all such guarantees are and will always be subject to constant adjustment and change depending on the state of the relationship between the city and the mainland. That is the political reality. Such arrangements are only workable where there is trust. Once that is gone, all bets are off. That’s where we are heading. Our rudderless opposition has only succeeded in supplying young rebels with empty slogans and unrealistic political demands – and possibly funding of unknown origins. It has nothing to offer but toxic politics that mortgages their future in the name of fighting for it. Some of them now want to bring on Armageddon – with help from the Americans – if only to spite Beijing to disguise their failure. Unless we win back our young with hope and opportunities, Hong Kong is lost.