Sunday, July 11, 2010
Hong Kong: One Country, Two Different Identities
Tourism has been an important part of the Hong Kong economy for decades and the last figures I was able to find showed around 26 million visitors annually-- around half of whom come from Mainland China. I asked Sandra McAubre, who normally writes on the topic of sports management degree programs to do a guest post on the feelings of Hong Kong Chinese about the change of status of the former British crown colony. She welcomes your comments at her email id: SandraA@sportsmanagementdegrees.net/ Her post follows:
How does it feel to be born Chinese, raised the British way of life, and then go back to being Chinese all over again? For the middle-aged citizen of Hong Kong, this is a very real conundrum-- the tiny island nation which belongs to China was leased to the British in 1898 for a period of 99 years. And so in 1997, it was officially handed over to the Chinese with much pomp and splendor. How do you cope with going from capitalist to socialist society in the blink of an eye? Fortunately for the people of Hong Kong, the island is not governed by the rules of Mainland China; rather, it is called a Special Administrative District and is being run the way it was when it was under the British. And so they’re able to retain their British way of life even as they revert back to their Chinese identity.
If you were to visit both Hong Kong and China, you would not be able to visibly tell the difference in the way of life in both places, but if you lived in either or both of them for some time, I guess the difference would become obvious. The larger cities of China may seem to be going the cosmopolitan route and adopting the Western way of life, but underneath the suits and inside the swanky multi-storied skyscrapers runs the thread of communism, the administration that allows only one child a couple, punishes people who speak against the State, and runs the country with an iron hand. China has only polished its external appearance to keep pace with the rest of the world and open its doors to developers and multinationals who provide opportunities for the nation to grow and flourish. Beneath the tip of the iceberg is a nation that is still proudly socialistic and which closely guards its secrets.
The people of Hong Kong are free to lead open lives, say what they want, and do what they wish to within the confines of the law that existed over the past century. But because they are no longer British, there is some form of censorship, even if it is self-imposed, as if they were a little apprehensive about some invisible punishment. And perhaps they are justified in trying to adhere to the way of life that China follows because this special status expires in 50 years. With 13 of them are already gone, only time will tell whether Hong Kong will still remain the capitalist economic success that it is or if it will slowly be assimilated into socialistic China and be forced to accept a new way
I recently visited Hong Kong and was impressed with the efficiency of the nation (I’m still unable to accept it is a part of China), and I sincerely hope it retains its unique flavor that is part British and part Asian (I cannot say Chinese in all honesty), no matter how many years go by.