mandag 6. september 2021

Opinion: There are two Hong Kongs. China is betting one can survive without the other.

Hong Kong now is increasingly a story of two cities occupying the same compact space, but existing in parallel realities. One Hong Kong is populated by bankers and financial services professionals, real estate developers and property owners, and businesspersons whose primary pursuit is trade with mainland China. In this universe, times are good and getting better.

The stock exchange this year reported its best quarter on record, fueled by nearly $30 billion worth of new IPO listings. Profits are up 26 percent in the first half of the year. Property sales are up, interest rates are low and new developments are being launched. Big banks are all on a hiring spree and offering new products to take advantage of China’s rapid post-pandemic economic recovery. And the national security law, which came into effect in July 2020? It has restored calm and stability after a year of often-violent anti-government protests.

The other Hong Kong is populated by people in the public space — politicians, journalists, teachers, labor leaders, artists, filmmakers, those active in civil society groups as well as many students and young people. To them, Hong Kong has become unrecognizable, a place where dissent is crushed and debate stifled. They see no future here and no hope.