Sunday, 1 July 2007

Hongkong - 10 years after

It's been 10 years since Hongkong returned to Chinese "communist" rule. From free wheeling capitalism under the British to a much more repressive regime.

Other than the outspoken activists, the Hongkong friends I've spoken to all feel that they've been "looked after" better than when they were under the British as a colony. Of course! China's economy is the hottest around the world now. The most populated country on this planet; and with plenty of money too. Once, one of my Hongkong friends said that if everyone in China jumps at the same time, the resonance will create an earthquake so huge it will even rock America. He could be right.

Whatever happens in China resonates around the world -- be it the stock markets, or the tainted food they export. Not forgetting what we went through with SARS a few years back. I really don't believe there hadn't been any "covers up" when the disease first broke in China. Poor Hongkong, and Canada which bore the brunt of the SARS outbreak. Economies in other parts of South East Asia were affected too, notably Singapore which had close social contacts with Hongkong and China. It was quite fortunate then that Indonesia wasn't affected "officially", for if they had been, it would have turned into a pandemic in no time considering the backwardness of the health care system there. They're not so lucky this time around with bird flu.

China won't and cannot afford to let Hongkong sink. With thoughts of reunification with Taiwan, that would have been the death knell and prone to international condemnation. And that would have served the Taiwanese well in seeking admission to the United Nations.

Without China, Hongkong's economy would not have recovered so quickly after the SARS crisis; similarly for the rest of Asia and the World. The Canadians have to be envious for Canadians are Canadians, NOT US citizens; whereas Hongkongers are Chinese, like their counterparts up north, fellow "descendants of the dragon". Canada can only count on their southern neighbors for spillover effect, whereas the Hongkongers can rely on boosters orchestrated by Beijing.

Reminds me a bit like the typhoon shelters they have in Hongkong. When the wind rises, stay behind the shelter. But China as an economic hinterland has served Hongkong better than the typhoon shelters in that typhoon shelters only provide shelter when the storm arrives, whereas China is in a position to do that plus providing indirect assistance when the storm has passed. How can Hongkong do without China? And why would Hongkongers not embrace this reunification with the mainland?

What about the Brits? They have their own problems in Europe. Anyhow, Hongkong was supposed to be a sort of cash, commodities and securities cow anyway, historically. Money and commodities out of Hongkong trade are meant for the benefit of the British Empire. And Hongkong's geographic location serves as an asset in Britain's quest to play a part in global security.

What can we learn from this relationship between Hongkong and China? Plenty! As long as we keep our minds open and forget all the norms experienced by the Western world and found in text books, for there has not been the equivalent of China and Hongkong in past history recorded by Western historians. It will also serve to remind smaller countries next to BIG hinterlands of the possibilities and varying degrees of assistance she can expect to tap from the bigger brother next to her. And these smaller countries must realize that they are not Hongkong in assessing their positions. Example: smaller countries like Luxembourg in Europe must understand that although they are European, they are not German or French.

Well I can only wish my Hongkongers and my friends there all the best in this newfound relationship. Democracy is great, but democracy must serve and look after its people. Too much talk of democracy without tangible benefits will leave too many poor people disgruntled and lead to unwanted instability.

No comments: