Posted by: Sam Olsen | September 29, 2014

Occupy HK and its meaning

There’s a great deal of coverage about the Occupy clashes in Hong Kong these last few days. So what’s it all about?

Many pages have been written on the subject, but basically, to our expat eyes, it’s all about fear, and fear of China. HK has, over the last 15 years or so, developed a love-hate relationship with its northern neighbour/parent. It used to be all hate, but then locals here realised that Mainlanders had a great deal of money to spend, and they wanted to spend it in Hong Kong. About 40 million Mainland visitors a year spend billions of dollars, enriching large numbers of people here.

The flip side to that is that China proper is encroaching on HK. There are hundreds of thousands of Mainlanders that have moved here in the last few years alone, and the Cantonese language is slowly being eroded by Mandarin. And the influx of wealth has pushed up property prices to extreme levels (well out of the reach of the vast, vast majority of people) and has crowded out school places and other social utilities.

Added to this mix was the agreement to allow universal suffrage in 2017. Naturally those who feel they have the most to lose from a loss of HK identity – the young and aspirationally Middle Class – want to use these upcoming elections to push for full control of their futures. Beijing has decided that only candidates it trusts can be on the short list, but this of course is not in the interests of those that want to break free of the Motherland’s embrace.

That’s the long and short of it, but there are plenty of more points of view, such as this one.

But as for us, we are all OK. There is very little to be worried about unless we head straight into the melee. The worst case scenario is that the Chinese Army (the PLA) and start shooting people. But the chances of this are absolutely small – Beijing know that this would be end of HK.

So we’ve stocked up on food and petrol, and we also aren’t going to be running out of wine any time soon. We’re off on holiday on Wednesday for 5 days so with any luck it will all be over by the time we are back. Although given the heated emotions on both sides it is quite probable it won’t be.

 

 

 

 

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