I am increasingly of the opinion that the animosity between “mainland locusts” and “Hong Kong dogs” is a serious issue. I don’t think it will go away. Oh, it may fade out of the news for awhile, but it will surely come back again. And again. Because the simple truth is, there is no way that Hong Kong can win this one. No way. China won’t intercede, or if they do, if they start running ads somewhere saying “be nice to the Hong Kong dogs,” it will be a half-hearted attempt. And the crappy excuses we have called “the Hong Kong government” can’t go against China, they can’t and even if they could, they wouldn’t. So the only resolution would be if Hong Kongers kept their mouths shut, kept their opinions to themselves and learned to love their mainland brethren, or at least pretend to, because there is no other possible outcome. Hong Kong secede from China? As if.
As I wrote to a friend earlier today, I see definite parallels with Tibet. The Chinese government actively encouraged Han Chinese to move to Tibet. They gave them all kinds of incentives with the notion that if Tibet looked more Chinese, if it sounded more Chinese, it would eventually become more Chinese. 50+ years later, nope, still hasn’t happened.
My friend is someone who has lived in mainland China for the past 15 years and has traveled extensively throughout the country. I think his opinion is as valid as anyone else’ on the topic, if not more so. Here’s some of what he wrote back to me. (He’s asked me to not use his name in the post but otherwise given me permission to quote him.)
Re HK/mainland – it’s very significant. HK has an important role to play in the future of China. The view of many – that I have argued against – that HK is being turned by the commies, is simply not true. there is a fundamental cultural/social difference that is growing not shrinking, and Legco elections etc are not a reliable gauge of the state of play.
Prof Kong’s comments are enormously important – he’s Peking University, and these people are very sensitive to speaking within accepted parameters. i.e. his comments reflect a position beyond himself within the ruling class.
There is a connection here to what is happening in Tibet, another place where the party thought they could bring pressure to bear and things would eventually fall their way. It seems I was wrong on Tibet – I used to say the Dalai Llama would one day die and it was game over. I think it’s going to be more complicated than that.
The background to all this is two issues – the party’s incapability of doing respect, to anyone or to any entity, and the power of the Internet to provide transparency.
There is a confluence of issues raising pressure on the party at the moment. How it plays will be fascinating. They are smart, but they are more selfish than smart, so I would expect them to make more and more mistakes. Watching developments is more fun than TV.
I’d like to write more on this topic but, frankly, I’m just too tired tonight. So in the meantime, let me just direct your attention to new-ish blog Dictionary of Politically Incorrect Hong Kong Cantonese. What this guy is doing is taking all the various stuff from HK newspapers, Youtube, Weibo, Facebook and other sources and translating it into English.
Read this stuff and try to convince me that this is something that will just blow over. Oh, there may be some pauses, some times when everyone is united in their hatred for the Japanese or the Americans, but this will return, again and again. “Hope for the best, expect the worst,” as they sang in the Mel Brooks movie The Twelve Chairs, and I suppose to many non-Chinese, there is a kind of Mel Brooksian feeling to this entire thing. Surely these people cannot be serious. (Yeah, I know, stop calling you Shirley.) And yet many of them are.
This is life in Hong Kong in 2012. It may feel a bit like 1Q84 but last time I looked there was still only one moon in the sky – on those increasingly rare nights that one can see past the pollution. Donald Tsang has refused to address this in any meaningful way and Henry Tang hasn’t even managed to get off his fat ugly ass long enough to have a platform or positions on anything (to the point where even China has called him up and said, “Yo, Hank, WTF?”). And so when I look at possible projections of the future, I’m worried.