Some in Hong Kong Feel Frustrated, as their City is Losing to Mainland China, by Andre Vltchek - The Unz Review (Text only)
Hong Kong is losing to Mainland
China. Its poverty rates are high, it suffers from corruption and savage
capitalism. It is now the most expensive city on earth. People are frustrated,
but paradoxically, they are blaming socialist Beijing for their problems,
instead of the legacy of British colonialism. ‘Across the line’, Shenzhen,
Shanghai, Beijing, Xiang and other cities are leaving Hong Kong behind in
almost all fields.
When my dear friend and a great
concert pianist from Beijing, Yuan Sheng, used to live in New York, recording,
giving concert and teaching at prestigious Manhattan School of Music, he told
me that he used to cry at night: “In the United States, they smear China. I
felt hurt, defenseless”.
He returned to Beijing, gave
back his Green Card and began teaching at Beijing Conservatory. He never
regretted his decision. “Beijing is much more exciting than New York, these
days”, he told me.
It is obvious that Beijing is
booming: intellectually, artistically; in fact, in all fields of life.
Yuan’s friend, who returned
from London and became a curator at the iconic “Big Egg” (the biggest opera
house on earth), shared her thoughts with me:
“I used to sit in London,
frustrated, dreaming about all those great musicians, all over the world. Now,
they come to me. All of them want to perform in Beijing. This city can make you
or break you. Without being hyperbolic, this is now one of the most important
places on earth. Just under one roof, in one single night, we can have a
Russian opera company performing in our big halls, in another one there is a
Chinese opera, and a Bolivian folklore ensemble in a recital hall. And this is
only one of Beijing’s theatres.”
When the Chinese artists and
thinkers are fighting for the prime with their Western counterparts, it is
usually Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, ‘against’ London, Paris and New York.
Hong Kong is ‘somewhere there’, behind, suddenly a backwater.
While Hong Kong University and
the City University of Hong Kong used to be the best in China, many Mainland
institutions of higher learning, including Peking University and Tsinghua, are
now producing many more cutting-edge creative thinkers. I spoke at all of these
schools, and can confirm that the young people in Beijing and Shanghai are
extremely hardworking, endlessly curious, while in Hong Kong, there is always
that mildly arrogant air of exceptionalism, and lack of discipline.
It used to be that the
so-called “Sea Turtles” (students who went abroad and to Hong Kong, and then
returned to Mainland China), were treated like celebrities, but now, it is much
easier to get a job with the Mainland China’s diplomas.
Recently, while filming the
riots in Hong Kong, I was told by a receptionist at one of the major shopping
“We do not treat visitors from
Mainland China well. And, they lost interest in Hong Kong. Before, they used to
come here, to admire out wealth. Now, most of them are avoiding this place.
What we have, they have, too, and often better. If they travel, they rather go
to Bangkok or Paris.”
These days, the contrast
between Xiang, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong is shocking. Mainland
infrastructure is incomparably better. Public areas are vast, and cultural life
much more advanced than that in a former British colony.
While the Mainland Chinese cities
have almost no extreme poverty, (and by the end of 2020 will have zero), in
Hong Kong, at least 20% are poor, and many simply cannot afford to live in
their own city. Hong Kong is the most expensive place on earth. Just to park a
car in could easily cost over US$700 per month, for just working hours. Tiny
apartments cost over a million US dollars. Salaries in Hong Kong, however, are
not higher than those in London, Paris or Tokyo.
The city is run by an extreme
capitalist system, ‘planned’ by corrupt tycoons/developers. The obsolete
British legal system here is clearly geared to protect the rich, not the
majority. That was essentially why the “Extradition Bill” was proposed: to
protect Hong Kong inhabitants from the unbridled, untouchable, as well as unelected de facto rulers.
But there is this ‘deal’,
negotiated before Hong Kong was returned where it belongs, which is – to China.
“One country, two systems”. It is an excellent contract for the
turbo-capitalist magnates, and for the pro-Western “activists”. And it is
extremely bad one for the average people of Hong Kong. Therefore, after months
of riots sponsored by the West, the Hong Kong administration scrambled the
Young hooligans know very
little about their city. I talked to them, extensively, during their first
anti-Beijing riots in 2014 (so-called “Umbrella Revolution”).
Correctly, then and now they
have been frustrated about the declining standards of living, about the
difficulties to get well-paid jobs and find affordable housing. They told me
that ‘there is no future for them’, and that ‘their lives are going nowhere’.
But quickly, their logic would
collapse. While realizing what tremendous progress, optimism and zeal could be
observed in the People’s Republic of China, under the leadership of the
Communist Party, they would still be demanding more capitalism, which is
actually ruining their territory. In 2014, and now, they are readily smearing
the Communist Party.
Being raised on the shallow
values of selfishness and egotism, they are now betrayed their own country, and
began treasonous campaigns, urging foreign powers, including US and UK, to
“liberate them”. All for just fleeting moment of fame, for a “selfie uprising”.
To liberate from whom? China
does not, (unfortunately for Hong Kong), interfere in Hong Kong’s economic and
social affairs. If anything, it builds new infrastructure, like an enormous
bridge now connecting Hong Kong with Macau (a former Portuguese colony) and a
high-speed train system, linking Hong Kong with several cities in Mainland
More restrain Beijing shows,
more it gets condemned by the rioters and Western media, for ‘brutality’. More
subway stations and public property get destroyed by rioters, more sympatry
flows for them from the German, US and British right-wing politicians.
For decades, the British
colonialists were humiliating people of Hong Kong, while simultaneously turning
their city into a brutal, and by the Asian standards, ruthless and fully
business oriented megapolis. Now people are confused and frustrated. Many are
asking, who they really are?
For Hong Kong, this is a
difficult moment of soul-searching.
Even those who want to “go back
to UK”, can hardly speak English. When asked “why do they riot”, they mumble
something about ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ in the West, plus ‘evilness of
Beijing’. Brochures of some obscure, extremist Japanese religious cults get
distributed. It is one big intellectual chaos. Rioters know nothing about
Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela, countries which are being ruined by the West.
Leaders like Joshua Wong are
proudly colluding with the Western embassies. To praise Chinese socialism
publicly is now dangerous – people get beaten by the “pro-democracy” rioters,
for such “crimes”.
Highly educated and
overly-polite Singapore is literally sucking out hundreds of foreign companies
from Hong Kong. Its people speak both English and Mandarin. In Hong Kong, great
majority speaks only Cantonese. Many foreigners are also relocating to
Shanghai. Not only big businesses: Shanghai is now full of European waiters.
Even tourism is down in Hong
Kong, by 40%, according to the recent data.
Absurdly: the rioters want
precisely what the Communist Party of China is providing: they want real
struggle against corruption, as well as determined attempt to solve housing
crises, create new jobs, and provide more public services. They want better
education, and generally better life. They want “Shanghai or Beijing”, but they
say that they want to be a colony of the UK, or a dependency of the USA.
They loosely define communist
goals, and then they shout that they are against Communism.
China is now ready to celebrate
its 70th Anniversary of the Founding of The People’s Republic of
Clearly, the West is using Hong
Kong to spoil this great moment.
After leaving Hong Kong, in
Shanghai, I visited a brilliant, socialist realism exhibition at the iconic,
monumental China Art Museum. Country under the leadership of President Xi is
once again confident, revolutionary and increasingly socialist; to horror of
declining West. It is a proud nation with great, elegant cities constructed by
the people, for the people, and with progressively ecological countryside. Its
scientific, intellectual and social achievements speak louder than words.
Contrast between Hong Kong and
Shanghai is tremendous, and growing.
But do not get me wrong: I like
Hong Kong. I have more than 20 years of history with that old, neurotic and
spoiled lady. I can feel her pulse. I love old trams and ferries, and
But Hong Kong’s charm lies in
Mainland China’s beauty is
fresh. China is one of the oldest cultures on earth, one of the deepest. But it
feels crisp, full of hope and positive energy. Together with its closest ally,
Russia, it is now working and fighting for the entire world; it is not selfish.
Hong Kong is fighting only for
its vaguely defined uniqueness. Actually, it is not Hong Kong that is fighting,
as most of people there want to be where they truly belong – in their beloved
nation – China. It is a gang of kids with their face-masks that is fighting. In
brief: a relatively big group of pro-Western extremists, whose leaders are
putting their fame above the interests of the people.
Hong Kong has no “Big Egg”; no
famous theatre where the greatest musicians are stunning the world. Its only
art museum is closed for reconstruction, for years, and will re-open only at
the end of 2019. Its cultural life is shallow, even laughable, for the place
which is branding itself as the “Asia’s World City”. There are no great
discoveries made here. It is all business. Big, big business. And creeping
Beijing could ‘liberate’ Hong
Kong, easily; to give it purpose, pride and future.
But young hooligans want to be
liberated by Washington, instead. They want to be re-colonized by London. And
they do not consult their fellow citizens. That clearly reflects their idea
about ‘democracy’. Not the “rule of the people”, but the “rule of the West”.
Not only they feel spite for
their country, but they also scorn and intimidate their fellow citizens who
just want to have their meaningful life, based on the Chinese values.
[First published by NEO – New
Eastern Outlook – A journal of Russian Academy of Sciences]