Hong Kong in 2016: 31 years remaining to forge our future

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Photo credit: Chris Lusher

Hong Kong is at an important crossroad in choosing the best path forward to secure a positive future for its citizens. We are an important part of China and should cement our place in it for our benefit and to assist in shaping China’s future direction.

There is a strong sense that if something is not done and done quickly, that Hong Kong’s unique identity may be lost forever and that we are at a dead-end. Historically our identity has always been highlighted as a vibrant, entrepreneurial, and culturally diverse and rich outpost on the South China Sea.

Indeed, many Hong Kong people are striving to chart a new course for our city. But to take the most successful path we must first understand and grasp the changes that are happening since the Handover 19 years ago.

A real problem for Hong Kong people is the negative perception that the nativist movement is creating and only distancing ourselves from the good favour of China. Instead of looking for workable long-term solutions, there is poorly thought out challenges to Beijing’s intervention of local affairs. Using oaths of public service as a debating platform have proven to be a spectacle rather than any serious attempt to foster change and development.

Hong Kong, by nature of it’s past western culture, connections to UK, Europe, Asia, North America and beyond, plus employing Rule of Law, puts the city and its people in a unique place to positively influence the future path of China. How many other political entities, anywhere in the world can claim such influence and possible leadership to shape the present and future destiny of a superpower?

We cannot reshape China by throwing rocks and hurling insults towards its people – we are its people. We cannot change China’s policies in Hong Kong by electing legislators who do not even understand the process and can’t even read their oath of election. Our actions and those people whom we put our trust to carve out our future within China must not accept violence as a vehicle of change. China will only harden to threats of separation or violent acts towards it.

Hong Kong should continue to develop its own unique form of local democracy with Hong Kong characteristics, as a potential blue-print for China to model.

This city can be a place of unparalleled ability to influence the very future of the country it presently appears to reject. The solution here is to accept that Hong Kong is forever an integral part of China. But to accept this does not mean acquiescing to Hong Kong citizens being taken across the border in unusual circumstances and detained without proper cause. It does not mean we must accept an over capacity of tourist numbers and illegal parallel traders. It does not mean we should not control home prices to a degree that allows locals to enjoy the tremendous advantages of home ownership.

We must bring an end to negativism and throwing stones. Rather, let’s pick up those dislodged stones and build something new within our one-country two-systems model. Something that works. And do it right in front of China. Within China. For China’s benefit and development as a full-fledged member of the global community. Let’s actively and positively show the world that Hong Kong people are adaptable and can help to create a new way of doing things. Democratic political leadership with Chinese characteristics.

One thing is for certain in Hong Kong. Change is ever present. Let’s manage this change, foster and build upon our democratic political and governing institutions, and build the way forward not only for Hong Kong people, but for all of greater China.


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Richard Wright

Mr Wright specialises in corporate communications & public relations. He is former Treasurer and Director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and now Managing Director of Dynafresh Holdings.