Professor Simon Shen Xuhui, the Hong Kong-born international relations scholar, political and cultural commentator, prolific writer and founder of think tank Roundtable Institute & Its Network, has decided to leave Hong Kong.

Widely considered as one of the brightest and ablest among Hong Kong’s young people (he’s 37), he said he’s leaving because there’s nothing more he can do to promote international relations here and that Hong Kong won’t need him for the next 10 years.

Worse to come for Hong Kong: Beijing is no longer in the mood to dish out any favours

One could sense his resignation when he said he didn’t think anyone in Hong Kong could mend the rifts that were tearing the city apart.

And so, he’s leaving for Europe, mainland China, Singapore and Taiwan.

After the Mongols invaded China and founded the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), many educated Han men eschewed their traditional calling of public service as officials because they refused to serve the occupying “barbarians”. It was the same three centuries later, following the Manchu invasion and founding of the Qing dynasty (1644-1912).

These scholar-gentlemen applied their talents elsewhere, some composing zaju, poetic musical dramas of the Yuan dynasty that developed into the presentday xiqu, or burying themselves in the study of philology, scrutinising texts of the past to quell their revulsion of the present.

Shen doesn’t regard anybody as a “barbarian”, of course, and he may eventually return to Hong Kong.