Friday, November 20, 2015
NOV 20 TENSIONS AT HONG KONG VS CHINA SOCCER MATCH
It's been nearly 20 years since Hong Kong was formally ceded from the United Kingdom and became part of the People's Republic of China. Let's face it: This has not been a smooth transition. To summarize: First, the SARS "Bird Flu" epidemic instantly killed 300 people in 1997. A year later, the Asian Financial Crisis struck. People's fortunes disappeared overnight. The year 2003 saw mass pro-democracy demonstrations filling the streets. The Umbrella Revolution rocked Hong Kong last year, with some squares still being occupied today. In short, it has been a tension-fueled mess.
Yet none of these milestones compares to the events last week. During the World Cup qualifying match between Hong Kong and Mainland China, unruly fans defied warnings from FIFA and the police. Instead, they launched a massive protest. They booed mercilessly during the introductions, waving banners and signs. Things got testy during the national anthem. Since Hong Kong didn't have a 'National Song' as a British colony, the Chinese inserted their own dreaded tune as the official Hong Kong anthem. When "March of the Volunteers" began to play, all 6,071 fans let loose.
Today, Hong Kongers straddle a tenuous line. On one side, they have a surging economy, based on the principles of free enterprise. When the People's Republic took over Hong Kong, they were hesitant to alter the finely-tuned economic machine and...for the most part...left it alone. On the other side, Hong Kongers have a giant, power-hungry nation in control of their politics. Unwilling to mess with successful corporations, they have instead concentrated on slowly taking away the personal freedoms that lured entrepreneurs to the colony in the first place.