Hong Kong is divided into two halves. China believes that one may exist without the other.

Hong Kong is divided into two halvHong Kong is divided into two halves. China believes that one may exist without the other.

Keith B. Richburg is the head of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong and a former Washington Post correspondent.

Hong Kong is fast becoming a tale of two cities sharing a small area but operating in separate realities.

Bankers and financial services professionals, real estate developers and property owners, and business people whose major goal is to trade with mainland China make up one Hong Kong.

It’s a wonderful moment in this world, and it’s just getting better.

The stock exchange had its greatest quarter ever this year, thanks to roughly $30 billion in fresh IPO listings. In the first half of the year, profits increased by 26%.

Property sales are on the rise, mortgage rates are at historic lows, and new developments are springing up.

To take advantage of China’s fast post-pandemic economic rebound, big banks are all recruiting and providing new products.

And what about the national security act, which took effect in July 2020? After a year of often violent anti-government protests, it has restored quiet and stability.

Politicians, journalists, teachers, labor leaders, artists, filmmakers, members of civil society organizations, as well as many students and young people, occupy the other Hong Kong.

To them, Hong Kong has lost its identity, becoming a place where criticism is suppressed and discussion is repressed. They see no future and no hope in this place.

For different charges linked to the 2019 protest movement, more than 100 individuals have been detained under the national security statute, and hundreds more are still in jail or on bail.

Apple Daily, the city’s most popular newspaper, has had its assets frozen and its owner and senior editors have been sentenced to prison.

Political parties, student and teacher unions, human rights organizations, and civic organizations have all been singled out, and some have been forced to dissolve. Even a prominent Cantopop artist had her bookings for an upcoming performance series canceled by a venue.

Many people in this world are casting their ballots with their feet. In the past year, over 90,000 individuals have left Hong Kong, the largest net outflow in more than half a century of records, resulting in a 1.2 percent population decline. The migration has resulted in predictions of a teacher and medical professional shortage. There may soon be insufficient youngsters to fill school openings.

Authorities in Beijing, as well as its selected leaders in Hong Kong, are betting that the first universe, that of bankers and financial experts, will help the city flourish and develop without the second.

They believe Hong Kong can emulate Singapore or Shanghai, both of which are wealthy cities with few distracting political conflicts.

In this view, Hong Kong’s future lies in closer integration with the Greater Bay Area, which connects Hong Kong and Macao with nine cities in Guangdong province and has a population of more than 70 million people.

Despite the fact that the epidemic is wreaking havoc on the global travel sector, Hong Kong intends to start Greater Bay Airlines on October 1, the 72nd anniversary of the Communist Party’s conquest of China.

Beijing authorities chastised the Hong Kong administration at a recent high-level conference in Hong Kong for not moving faster to integrate Hong Kong’s economy and population with the mainland.

Officials in Hong Kong are willing to comply.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, sounded upbeat when asked about the city’s declining population and the extra weight of an elderly population. Hong Kong has the potential to attract mainland visitors.

She said that she has the necessary skills to fill the vacuum. What about the elderly? To relieve the city’s load, they might just retire to mainland China.

With China’s own problems in finding work for university graduates approaching, Hong Kong might offer a lifeline. Professionals from the mainland are filling many of the new banking and financial positions. “China wants to maintain Hong Kong,” a longstanding expatriate businessman here cynically informed me. “All they want to do is get rid of Hongkongers.”

Hong Kong’s reputation as a leading global financial hub has traditionally been based on its well-regarded legal system. The new security legislation has created a parallel judiciary, with hand-picked judges generally deferring to the new security statute.

both prosecutors and cops Judges, on the other hand, continue to decide impartially in ordinary matters that do not involve national security. Even in instances involving the 2019 protests, judges have frequently acquitted individuals and chastised police for providing poor evidence or conflicting testimonies.

Finance and business experts perceive a functional judicial system that is still autonomous, citing the presence of foreign judges from common law nations. Those on the other side of the spectrum predict a steady erosion of judicial independence.

Is it possible for China to transform Hong Kong into a financial hub devoid of politics? In fact, it has already happened. “Hong Kong is on the verge of becoming another Shanghai or maybe Singapore,” claimed an unidentified American business leader in Hong Kong.

The old Hong Kong, with its boisterous discussion and protests, as well as independent-minded activists, legislators, and filmmakers, is no longer there. The construction of a new Hong Kong is underway. The only remaining issue is whether it will be able to flourish without the old one.

#china #hongkong #halves

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