25th September 2013
Will Hong Kong Become Merely a City of China?
The conflict that exists in Hong Kong is the conflict between Hong Kong local and China, including political, economical and social conflicts. Many would probably ignore these conflicts, but the disturbance in our daily lives, Mandarin fills every street, non stop high inflation, rocketing rents, individual shops being forced out of neighbourhood, crowded trains in Sheung Shui due to the smugglers (many incorrectedly call them “parallel traders” but due to the high import tax, they are defactor smugglers), intolerable bad habits of Chinese tourists, and so on. The orderly society has long gone – a fact that everyone knows. The only thing that people of Hong Kong ask for is the Hong Kong SAR Government to take back the One-Way Permit approval right: with some sort of control over the number as well as the quality and background of these individuals who emigrate to Hong Kong.
The Chief Executive, however, simply shuts his ears. The so-called “Hong Kong people first” is merely a slogan, and the fact is all policies are implemented in accordance with China’s plan to erode Hong Kong. CY Leung recently met with the governor of Guangdong and said, “there are over 600 cities in China, but only 49 of them have implemented individual travel visa scheme, hence we must proactively consider how to expand the scheme.” Apple Daily found out that the government plans to expand the scheme to Qingdao, Taiyuan and Xian, which could push the number of visitor to Hong Kong via ITV up to 19,000,000 (a year). The Chief Executive is always busy with “internal” affairs (as opposed to “foreign affairs”, a term created by CY Leung recently), and he is scheduled to visit Chongqing with 90 people tomorrow to discuss bilateral trade opportunity. In November, Leung will visit Guangxi, and Fujiang in January 2014.
As a free port, Chief Executive has all the rights and responsibilities to attract tourists and trade partners around the world. However, if we look into the demographic of tourists in the past years, we could only see an increase in Chinese tourists but no where else, in fact tourists from other countries dropped slightly.
According to Statistics and Census Department, over 60% of the individual travel scheme tourists from China do not stay overnight. What do they do in Hong Kong then? James Tian Pei-chun, who was the Chairman of Hong Kong Tourism Board for six years, said, “the multiple-entry visas in Shenzhen have become ‘multiple-daily-entry visas’. They are not tourists, but illegal workers or smugglers.”
In fact, many of those who stay overnight are illegal workers, including prostitutes and their “cover” was blown after being arrested. Those who occupy Ocean Park and Disneyland are the minority. Most of the Chinese tourists come to Hong Kong to shop: the rich pile up outside luxurious brand shops and jewelry shops, but most of them are here in Hong Kong to buy formula powder and daily necessities, which affect the people of Hong Kong’s daily lives.
Not to mention that given the Chief Executive focuses on “internal” affairs rather than “foreign affairs”, he rarely goes to promote Hong Kong overseas, and the overseas tourists have lost interest in Hong Kong. Prior to the handover of sovereignty in 1997, tourists from around the world flooded to Hong Kong to see the last of the colonial Hong Kong because they thought traces of colonial Hong Kong would be gone soon after the handover. As they expected, the SAR Government gradually but surely remove every trace of memories the people of Hong Kong cherish. After that, when tourists from other parts of the world could only see Chinese tourists flooding every corner of Hong Kong and the lack of characteristics and individuality of shopping malls, they can no longer see the attraction of Hong Kong. Whether of not Hong Kong can attract tourists from around the world depends on its uniqueness. Before the handover, Hong Kong was full of characteristics. Now it has fallen to a city that is all about catering for Chinese tourists. How could it ever appeal the tourists from around the world? It is perfectly reasonable for some organisations and lawmakers said that the public wish to reduce the number of individual travel visa tourists from China in order to reinstate its international characters. Unfortunately, the Chief Executive prefers the complete opposite direction.
According to news reports, the government claimed that Hong Kong future economic condition is unstable and has to rely on individual travel scheme to drive Hong Kong economic development. However, according to Statistic and Census Department, the tourism industry contributes merely 3.3% of Hong Kong’s GDP. Netizens asked: Are you willing to make 3.3% less to buy back your Canton Road, Disneyland, and the quiet, clean and orderly Hong Kong? Many netizens responded that: I am willing to, even if it means a 10% cut.
On top of the disaster brought by the individual travel visa scheme, new immigrants is another another problem in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s immigration policy applied to Chinese immigrants is the most ridiculous in the world. In any cities in the world, including those in China, the local authorities have the right to approve immigrants from other cities. Except in Hong Kong, China issues the One-Way Permits, and Hong Kong can do nothing but to accept them all. Given that there are 150 quotas a day, representing around 50,000 new immigrants per day, after 16 years, there have been around 700,000 to 800,000 new immigrants emigrated from China. One can never know how many of them are genuinely coming to Hong Kong to reunite with their families, how many bought their permits by bribing the officials, and how many of them are actually sent by the Communist Party to “work” in Hong Kong. Even if they are simply ordinary citizens, after twenty plus years of brainwashing by the Communist Party, their moral is far from the that of the old Chinese. They enjoy the better human right conditions in Hong Kong, but many would support the pro-China and pro-Communist Party camps for insignificant benefits.
Chinese tourists and new immigrants milling about at every corner, coupling with a government that lies through its teeth, Hong Kong is not longer Hong Kong. The Hong Kongers who could not tolerate anymore begin to emigrate to other countries. Old Hong Kongers are being crowded out by the “New Hong Kongers”. The government turned and the composition of Hong Kong population turned too. As predicted by an astrologist in 1996, “astrology tells us that One-Country-Two-System is impossible. China will tighten its control over Hong Kong day by day. Hong Kong will become an ordinary city of China, but not a city of the people of Hong Kong.” I cited this in my book “Hong Kong 1997” published in 1996. I still hold my hope as I see the localism raises, will localism conquer the fate of Hong Kong?
Lee Yee – Public Affairs Commentator