Having returned to Hong Kong earlier this month (which is and probably always will be a part of China), the social and political rallying cries of “independence”, “autonomy”, “self rule” and “Hong Konger” were all too commonplace.
That being said an independent Hong Kong is still a fringe voice that is using increasingly extreme methods of attracting attention post the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests.
It seems that a vocal minority not just young people but surprisingly some of the older population that perhaps enjoyed British colonialism before Hong Kong’s return to China (People’s Republic) in 1997 have taken to the streets in efforts for estrange the Special Administrative Region from the mainland.
Yes it is true that cost of living pressures, lack of affordable housing especially for young families, government induced changes in the education curriculum to include Mandarin, threats to social cohesion partly due to increased mainland Chinese immigration are all major headaches in Hong Kong…
But at this stage to call for independence from China (yes, we know that it is run by a not too transparent and often corrupt Communist Party) is folly. Hong Kong relies heavily on mainland China for trade, investment, energy resources and food.
The last thing that Hong Kong needs is protectionism in trade, economic growth and development (or there lack of) if it was to separate from the mainland. Hong Kong depends on China much more than the other way around as it was during the Cold War period where Hong Kong was China’s gateway to the outside world.
The recent oath-gate scandal where two now disqualified legislators literally swore at China during their swearing in ceremony in the Hong Kong Legislative Council seems to be the best that pro-independence voices have.
Carrying the British Hong Kong colonial flag or the Taiwan flag (Republic of China) or the Yellow Umbrella for democracy or any other symbol that may soon be used to represent (or misrepresent) independence for Hong Kong is as far as the fringe voices have shown to the public.
Walking around Mong Kok (and sometimes Wan Chai) every night supposedly “shopping” through repeatedly yelling the same pro-independence, anti-government and the occasional pro-democracy slogans through a loud speaker over and over again seems to be the only plan such fringe voices have.
(I’m not opposed to the Umbrella Movement, but since 2015 the splintering of the pro-democracy efforts and lack of effective planning post the defeat of the “fake electoral reform” bills reflects the trend towards sloganism and not genuine activism or reform)
It’s okay to be anti-government, opposed to Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying and Beijing’s intervention in Hong Kong politics and the judiciary…
It’s okay to want better living standards for Hong Kong, as that is really what most people want… being able to afford housing and meals.
But it’s dumb and not okay to be carrying on about Hong Kong independence when no one from the fringe has actually presented a practical and sustainable plan on what they want to be the world’s newest country.
If the current plan for an independent Hong Kong is basically just “Leung Chun Ying 689 GO TO HELL”, “REBEL AGAINST THE COMMUNISTS” and “WE ARE HONG KONGERS”, the US president-elect Donald Trump has a clearer and more achievable plan for building a wall on the Mexican border than Hong Kong ever becoming independent with a “new great wall” at the Shenzhen Border.
Not to forget that Taiwan has tried to “separate” from mainland China since the Communist Party won the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and yet despite having largely working democracy as well as being recognised by a handful of countries it still cannot run away from Beijing.
Taiwan established its booming economy post World War 2 but now after over 60 years is evermore economically reliant on China. It is clear that even with a plan to divorce itself from the mainland, Taiwan is still very much Chinese with added touches of Japanese, American and globalised influences…
Below is the current state of the road map to Hong Kong independence and more importantly the survival guide for the “new country” of Hong Kong.
. (nothing, if you were wondering what this blank space is)
And until something real is actually produced that can make a sustainable argument to how Hong Kong won’t become the next North Korea (because with China’s strong place in the global economy and diplomatically), an independent Hong Kong would likely struggle to receive international recognition.
Even the Russians and Vladimir Putin who were so keen on annexing Crimea won’t want to offend ally Xi Jinping by supporting Hong Kong. It is unlikely that US President-elect Donald Trump would do anything in support of Hong Kong, given his own “protectionist” leanings towards international relations and opposition to America being a “world police”.
China won’t even have to invade Hong Kong or use military force before the people revolt towards the new Hong Konger government as just the smallest of an economic embargo against the population of 7 million will send the “country” into disarray.
Hong Kong separate from China will be a city full of starving people much worse than the current breaches of the “One Country, Two Systems” that the people now see.
To the people of Hong Kong, you are Chinese. You were kidnapped after the Opium Wars by the British and now having returned home, you want to go live with your captors? Seriously… stop taking drugs!
Yes, Hong Kong needs much improvement and Beijing should be heeding the concerns of the people… but with a “plan” for independence being just slogans… a railway line between China and the America will be built before “Hong Kong independence” comes to much fruit.
Oh and don’t forget… 2047 is just around the corner. If you already think China has broken its promise of “no change for 50 years” than you might spend time on adapting and preparing for the true Hong Kong-China reunification instead of rambling on with slogans…
I like many Hong Kong Chinese see the struggle that the people face but far from being convinced of the need of independence are seeing an increasingly fringe and extreme voice becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, that being the more pushes against Beijing’s authority, the stronger the government reacts and sooner or later the infamous “23 Laws” that restrict current freedoms and liberties will have no trouble being passed “to restore social order and cohesion”.
With no real plan for an independent Hong Kong, the fringe voices that are getting louder everyday are merely encouraging or as some might argue forcing Beijing’s heavy handed response which ultimately makes all the people suffer.
So until a workable plan for Hong Kong independence is produced, don’t waste my time or make life harder for the people in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong in China.
This Op-Ed was also posted in The Typewriter on 20 November 2016:
Roydon Ng is a freelance journalist, blogger and web designer based from Sydney, Australia.