lørdag 7. september 2019

Rana Mitter: China should accept Hong Kong's unique identity, not fight it

Beijing needs to recognise that engagement with Hong Kong has to happen on two levels: economic and political. The inability of young residents of Hong Kong to find decent jobs and affordable housing has been a powerful driver of the protests. But Hong Kong has never been just about economics. Its government's argument that once the city becomes more integrated into southern China, it will forget about its concern with liberal values is flawed.

These values are precisely what makes so many Hong Kong residents so proud of their city. Its free media, independent legal system and academic freedoms are still very distinctive, not just in comparison with the rest of China but with many other societies in Asia. Simply dismissing those values as irrelevant or outdated won't change hearts and minds. Nor will attempts at "patriotic education" that suggest a top-down, monolithic idea of national identity; such initiatives have actually led locals to feel less, not more, Chinese.