There is bitter hostility between Hong Kongers and mainlanders these days. For Hong Kong government and its officials, this is like a slap in their face. They have been preaching the integration of Hong Kong and mainland and all the accompanying benefits to Hong Kong. They did not envisage nor could recognize that there are serious issues with “integration”. Expectedly, the government is not saying anything on the conflict between Hong Kongers and mainlanders, not to mention doing anything about it.
I do not want to delve into the reasons, the history and psychology that may lead to the conflict. While I think it is absolutely wrong to disrespect people and label each other as “dog” or “locust”, I am most concerned that Hong Kong is losing its character, press freedom, academic freedom, and all in all its value system.
In other words, I feel that Hong Kong is becoming another Tibet, where the immigration/strong presence of newcomers not only dominates its economy but also change its economic, cultural and social fabrics.
Let me lay bare these facts to you:
– In 2010, 37% of the babies born in Hong Kong are of mainland parents; in 2011 the year of dragon, the first baby born in Hong Kong is of mainland parents.
– In 2011, mainlanders accounted for 28% of the total number of transactions and 37% of the total transaction amounts in the primary property market.
– In 2011, Hong Kong received over 25M mainland tourists, representing over 60% of the total number of tourists of the year.
– In Hong Kong’s universities, mandarin was heard spoken everywhere, with many mainland students either being offered scholarships to study here or whose families are rich enough to afford them studying here. Mainland scholars who have obtained their doctorates overseas also heavily fill the faculty rank in the local higher education sector.
Here’s what I see and hear:
– In Hong Kong’s main shopping areas, there remain only cosmetics shops, jewelers, luxury watch shops, and pharmacies which sell baby formula, all of which cater to the needs and purchasing power of mainland tourists. The smaller / traditional shops are dying due to soaring rents.
– The simplified Chinese is everywhere, even in supermarkets. (To date, I cannot read / refuse reading books in simplified Chinese – they are eye sores, a distorted writing system that is in force in the mainland for political reasons only.)
– Hong Kong’s housing price is among the world’s highest, with cash from mainland buoying the local property market.
– Uncivilized behavior is easily seen. A friend of mine told me she actually saw a mainland parent allow her child to pee in the middle of a shopping mall. As a mother, she also told me she genuinely felt lucky that she became a mother some years ago, not now otherwise she would have to fight with mainland mums for maternity service and school places for her kid.
– A mainland scholar in a Hong Kong University just caught himself in a scandal for publicizing a survey of the Chief Executive hopefuls even before the survey was properly done and was completed. Allegedly he wanted to curry the favor of one of the hopefuls.
– A Hong Kong based Beijing official recently repeatedly lambasted a scholar in The University of Hong Kong for “serving the interests of a specific political group” after this scholar’s public polling recently shows that a low proportion of Hong Kongers identify themselves as Chinese, and this same scholar proposed an online election of the Chief Executive involving all the residents.
– 440 people were arrested by the Hong Kong police for protests and demonstrations in 2011, compared to 57 in the previous year.
– The press has been having a hard time conducting interviews and doing reports in the new government headquarters at Tamar because of strict rules and unfriendly press arrangements and security guards.
Can the Hong Kong government see what is happening to the city? Of course it can. It just refuses to see. An unelected Chief Executive and government, they do not need to listen to the people, anyway. They need only to look up to Beijing. Next month, the government will implement a new policy that would allow mainland drivers from Guangdong Province to drive and travel in Hong Kong. Are they sane? Is Hong Kong not polluted and congested enough? Are there not enough mainland tourists? With Hong Kong reachable by MTR, where is the need to travel in Hong Kong by car?
If you can find some hope for Hong Kong, let me know.