Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, November 20, 2015



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.

FIFA responded by fining the Hong Kong Football Association. It's the first time any country has been disciplined for booing during their own National Anthem! What are the Hong Kongers so angry about? They believe the "One Country, Two Systems" plan is a complete failure. One of the reasons why the colony thrived was Hong Kong Basic Law. Drafted in London in 1912, it granted simple rights to the citizenry of the crown colony. While these were limited freedoms from a Western point of view, these actions were unprecedented in the Orient. People flocked to Hong Kong in hopes of living a free and more prosperous life.

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.

While Beijing will undoubtedly try to control the hearts and minds of Hong Kongers, we here at the DUNER BLOG know they will not succeed. The people of the island colony are truly unique. Although they speak Cantonese and look just like folks on the mainland, their souls are not Chinese. Like Singapore and Taiwan, they may be linked culturally to the People's Republic, but their hearts beat to the drum of the West. Oops! We forgot: The score of the match was China: 0. Hong Kong: 0. No winners!

No comments:

Post a Comment