Regina Ip, Hong Kong legislator and chair of the (pro-Beijing) New People’s Party, has written a staggeringly, mind-boggling stupid op-ed for the South China Morning Post, in which she claims “the rising tide of anti-mainland sentiment has its roots in Hong Kong’s failure to develop a competitive economy independent of largesse from across the border”.
No doubt deeply disturbing to the leaders in Beijing, this rising tide of anti-mainland sentiment is occurring against a backdrop of sustained economic growth buoyed by tourism and liquidity from the mainland. What makes Hong Kong bite the hand that feeds it?
How dare those ungrateful Hong Kongers have the nerve to complain about anything when the economy is good?! Obviously the only time to complain about ‘patriotic’
brainwashing educationor the lack of universal suffrage, or rampant corruption, is when the economy is stagnant.
Rather than lay the blame on the apparent “pro-China” inclinations of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying or alleged interventions by mainland officials, I would argue that the anti-mainland sentiments are a direct outcome of Hong Kong’s mismanagement of the relationship between the mainland and Hong Kong in the past decade, especially in the economic arena.
The story dates back to a policy change in 2003. After the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome devastated the Hong Kong economy, authorities here decided to seek a quick fix by lifting hitherto tight controls on mainland visitors to Hong Kong. The influx of luxury-starved mainland tourists did wonders for Hong Kong’s retail business, but it also created massive distortions and imbalances in the local economy, which have accentuated deep-rooted structural problems and metastasised into a prickly political issue.
Whilst Ip may have a point with regard to how Hong Kong’s economy is overly oriented towards high-speding mainlanders, discounting the role of Beijing’s meddling in the Special Administrative Region, or CY Leung’s close ties to the PRC, in increasing Hong Konger’s antipathy for mainland Chinese is absurd.
Until Hong Kongers are freely and universally able to choose who governs them, mainland-Hong Kong relations will always be tempered by resentment at Beijing’s self-interested interference in Hong Kong affairs.
Join Shanghaiist for the Hairy Crab & Sex Museum Tour on Nov 3-4! Click below image to find out more: