○ Information asymmetry between people in Hong Kong and Chinese mainland has resulted in short-sighted mentality of some youths in Hong Kong
○ Hongkongers living in Chinese mainland recognize “one country” as larger than “two systems”
Young Hongkongers pose for a picture at the Forbidden City in Beijing on June 29, 2018. The visiting group of more than 100 people visited three cities in the Chinese mainland to witness the achievements made since the reform and opening up began in 1978. Photo: VCG
Two years ago, 54-year-old doctor Miranda Fung closed her traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Hong Kong and came to live in Beijing. Less than two years later, she could not understand why her hometown – previously one of “The Four Asian Tigers”- had become a city beset by riots and chaos.
“I’m so heartbroken, because some youths now have ruined the great efforts made by several generations of people in Hong Kong. They have ruined Hong Kong’s reputation as the Pearl of the Orient,” Fung told the Global Times in Beijing on Sunday.
Over the past two months, protests and clashes between radical protesters and police have almost become routine. Some Hongkongers living in the Chinese mainland are very worried about their home and have called on radical protesters to stop their illegal actions right away.
Before Fung went back to Hong Kong two weeks ago, her mother asked her not to wear black or white T-shirts to avoid getting in trouble.
“My mother told me that her neighbor in her 80s was slapped by a young protester on the street, just because the old lady was trying to persuade the young man to stop,” said Fung. As a doctor with a knowledge of psychology, she said radical protesters in Hong Kong now have “twisted mentality and behaviors.”
Fung is also worried about the safety and financial situation of her brother, a taxi driver, who only earns half the money he did before the protests happened.
A series of illegal protests have resulted in traffic blocks in some areas of Hong Kong with people getting injured.
Days ago, a video posted online showed a taxi driver trying to drive through roadblocks set up by protesters. He was abused by radical protesters and his car was battered.
Wong Yat-fung, chairman of the Taxi Drivers and Operators Association, said those who masked themselves defamed Hong Kong and committed all manners of evil, Wenweipo reported.
“Some protesters said if they don’t ruin Hong Kong, their next generation will suffer. I want to ask them: if you ruin Hong Kong, will you have the next generation? If you ruin Hong Kong, you have no future!” Fung said those who do not acknowledge their Chinese identity could go and live in other countries if they wish.
She also noted radical protesters are exceedingly self-centered who said “yes” only to themselves but “no” to others. “Even though they are wrong, they twist their values and blame their parents, the government or any other side opposing them. One of the reasons is because of their self-abasement and closed mentality; another is because they have not laid down their superiority complex,” Fung said.
What some Hongkongers have not realized is that the metropolitan city’s economy is declining while the Chinese mainland’s is rapidly growing, or they have not become used to the tide turning.
In 2018, the GDP of Hong Kong was $363 billion, or 2.66 percent of that of the Chinese mainland. That number was 18.6 percent in 1997. The financial hub dealt with about half of the foreign trade of China in 1997, but now, Hong Kong’s value of trade only accounts for one-eighth of the country’s.
Following Shenzhen, the GDP of Guangzhou, another city in South China’s Guangdong Province, is expected to surpass Hong Kong’s GDP this year.
Wesley Leung from Hong Kong believes the information asymmetry between people in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland has resulted in the short-sighted mentality of some youths in Hong Kong.
Leung told the Global Times some Hong Kong youths take a very narrow view of things: “Most of them only focus on the small market of Hong Kong, which has only a few million people. By comparison, many people in Chinese mainland would love to mobilize between different cities based on their interests and career developments.”
Leung, who is now in his 40s, came to work in the cultural industry in the Chinese mainland 13 years ago and has been living in Beijing for eight years.
As an entrepreneurial mentor of the Zhongguancun Beijing-Hong Kong-Macao Youth Innovation Center, Leung encouraged Hongkongers, especially young people, to visit the Chinese mainland.
The Beijing-based innovation center has organized more than 30 exchange events for visiting groups from universities, business sector, e-commerce sector and civil service systems in Hong Kong and Macao. Since 2017, it has helped 58 interns from Hong Kong and Macao get work at companies in the Chinese mainland.
“Some youths in Hong Kong are lazy and unwilling to step outside their comfort zone… If they turn to close their eyes and pretend to be deaf, ignoring the outside world, they will be abandoned by time,” Leung said, referring to examples of advanced technology practices in Chinese mainland, namely mobile payment, online shopping and the latest developments in 5G and artificial intelligence.
In addition, he advised youths in Hong Kong to judge the situation by themselves instead of being taken advantage of by lawbreakers, which may impact their personal lives and Hong Kong’s future.
Refuting voices saying life in Beijing is highly political and boring, Leung said the capital is an international city where different cultures and civilizations are mutually respected and exist together, adding that living here is “a happy and worthy experience for him to develop and grow.”
Seeing protesters waving US national flags in Hong Kong in online videos, Fung said she always keeps in mind what her mother taught her when she was a little girl: “We are all Chinese.”
When she was in her 20s, she had a British boyfriend who invited her to live in the UK with him. “After staying in the UK for a year, I felt I didn’t have any dignity. Even though I am more capable than some British people, they still saw me as a second-class citizen,” Fung said. She made a decision to go back to Hong Kong.
Her mother was a worker who did not have a good educational background in Chaozhou, the same place where Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing comes from in South China’s Guangdong Province. She taught Fung Chinese culture, such as loving the country and being polite to the elderly.
However, all of that basic etiquette is gone in Hong Kong in the past two months.
Many young people in Hong Kong have little recognition of identity as Chinese people, according to Zhang Jingsheng, 26, who has been living in Hong Kong for several years. He chose to apply for postgraduate studies in the Chinese University of Hong Kong after graduating from college in Shanghai, noting that some “immoral” media have played a role in the recent protests, such as the Apple Daily.
“I used to talk to young people who were born and grew up in Hong Kong. Our opinions on ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ always differ, which brought ends to the conversations. Their knowledge of the mainland is so limited and many of them refuse to listen to any information about the mainland from people who come from or have been to the mainland,” Zhang told the Global Times.
“Hong Kong society has always been ruled by law but the young people’s violent behaviors go against the society’s bottom line,” he said, noting that his business has been affected as many of his clients are from the Chinese mainland and now the number of mainland people who are willing to come to Hong Kong is also decreasing.
The business confidence index also dropped to its lowest level in the last three years for middle and small-sized enterprises in Hong Kong, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The region’s economy grew by only 0.6 percent in the second quarter year on year. Xinhua also noted the average income for workers in Hong Kong tourism industry decreased by 80 percent.
“It’s already been two months. That’s enough. Please, please calm down,” pleaded Fung, hoping her words could be heard by the rioters.
Leung echoed Fung’s view, saying the core value of Hong Kong society lies in its rule of law. He compared his generation with his parents’, noting that Hong Kong’s inclusiveness is better than in the era of British rule.
“People should note that protests were forbidden before 1997,” Leung said.
For both Fung and Leung, even though they decided to move to Beijing, their culinary habits are rooted in Hong Kong: Fung still cooks soup every day and Leung prefers light tasting dishes at restaurants. In their hearts, they deeply love Hong Kong and care about their hometown.
It was Leung’s hardworking spirit as a Hongkonger and his love for traditional Chinese culture that allowed him to overcome the pain of Beijing’s dry winter.
“I agree that ‘one country’ is always more important than ‘two systems,'” Leung told the Global Times. “It is certain that as long as the Chinese mainland develops well, Hong Kong can have a better future.”
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