Hong Kong Hubris
China Hand has some great insights into the Hong Kong people and why they are in the mess they are in today and why they are finding it so difficult to get out of it:
“Talking to Hong Kong people confirms a deep despair that little is being done to rescue this ailing economy whose fundamental problem is grossly over inflated wages and property prices. As indicated before China Hand believes this was a result of the money pouring down from China as well as fairly adept politics which conspired to convince Hong Kong people they were the smartest in the world and Hong Kong was on a roll which would never end…Hong Kong people have always had a feeling of separateness from the rest of the black, hair, black eyed, yellow skinned people. The Chinese students in Australian universities right from the very early days quickly divided into two groups: Honkies and the rest.Honkies of course were a cut above the Taiwanese, Malaysian, Singaporean, and mainland students. Of course it was obvious. I’m not saying they learned their aloofness from their British masters but it did often appear to resemble the superior arrogance of the expatriate Brit.”
So well said and so true. Having lived there for a couple of years myself, I was shocked at the contempt Honkies displayed for Mainlanders, Singaporeans, Malaysians and just about everybody else. As the sun sets on HK’s glory days the SAR finds itself increasingly eclipsed by Shanghai; that HK would find itself so overshadowed so quickly would have been utterly inconceivable just two years ago. Gone are the days when foreign firms felt they needed to set up shop in HK in order to make their way into China proper. Now they go straight to Shanghai in increasing numbers. (This was, quite frankly, the reason I decided to leave. I know a sinking ship when I see one, especially when I am on one.) So to all those Hong Kongers who found it vastly amusing to make fun of the uncouth oafs from elsewhere, it seems the joke may have been on you. It’s certainly sad to see a great city (city/state?) fall into decline, but their renowned smugness makes it harder to feel much compassion for the Honkies’ situation. That said, many of the most wonderful people I have ever known are Hong Kongers. I miss them deeply and would do anything for them.
China Hand makes some sensible suggestions for reviving the economy by facing reality and, among other things, raising certain taxes. We’ll see. Taxes are for the politicians in the SAR what Social Security is to their counterparts in the USA.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.