Rioters could destroy HK’s future by sabotaging city’s ties with mainland

By Tom Fowdy Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/27 19:23:40

A Bank of China branch in Kowloon, Hong Kong, is vandalized by rioters on October 20. Photo: Xinhua

On October 20, Hong Kong rioters staged a series of sweeping attacks against anything they deemed as being "China" in the city. Marching out from a banned protest in Kowloon, the activists proceeded on a rampage against Chinese mainland-linked shops, brands and banks. Smartphone maker Xiaomi had its stores destroyed; numerous Bank of China branches had their ATMs ripped out and stores flooded; while some bookstores were also destroyed. 

In doing so, the movement has increasingly illustrated that it is motivated not by benevolent or forward thinking goals, but an all-embracing hatred of the concept of "China" which is now taking root in the form of a mindless, irrational and unrestrained violence against a series of targets which do not deserve it, completely detrimental to the city's quality of life. 

Thus, their true intentions are revealed in pursuing what Beijing describes as separatism, not stopping their pursuit until they drive everything they deem "the mainland" out of the city - thus extending far beyond their so-called five demands. This paints a dystopian picture of what life would be like in Hong Kong if they get their own way. 

Without China's role, the city's economy will sink. Already, the fabled prosperity of the city is at risk as the territory has now entered recession due to the all-embracing disruption to business. In pursuing their "Black Terror," the provocateurs are splintering Hong Kong's success and robbing their own generation of future. 

Hong Kong has long been known to the world as an iconic city of business, finance and commerce. It is ranked by numerous organizations as the world's freest economy, with highly beneficial business conditions, a strident approach to the rule of law and extremely competitive taxation rates. The city's status has attracted financial giants from all over the world who have transformed it into a hub of wealth, glitter and booming prosperity. 

This in turn, has attracted overwhelming investment from the Chinese mainland, too. Owing to geography, Hong Kong and the mainland have become increasingly integrated; the two play an inseparable role in each other's economic life. 

Many businesses from South China's Shenzhen have registered in the city, while traders go back and forth crossing the Luohu Port every single day. 

This is the reality of Hong Kong-mainland ties. However, driven by localism and exceptionalism, activists have come to resent the status quo. Driven by a belief that the city ought to be different to the mainland on a political, social and cultural level, they now seek to drive out by force all influence deemed "the mainland" in the city, and there is no rationality or limits to their approach. This has involved even the destruction of grassroots businesses and shops ran by local people. It is driven by a pure hatred of the notion of China.

In this case, if they were to completely get their own way, the picture for the city would be grim. 

A small minority of anti-Beijing activists would, enabled by the US, pursue a witch hunt in driving out every single deemed "influence of Beijing" from Hong Kong. Already back to the time when I was living there, I know there was widespread student hysteria against anyone on the university committee deemed "pro-Beijing."

In this context, it would be even worse. Anyone deemed "China" would be hounded out of a job or position in a McCarthyist-like manner. Entire businesses and organizations would be forced out of the city. All political discourse would circulate around mass hysteria, paranoia, accusations and witch-hunting activities. Thus the practical necessity of business life between Hong Kong and Shenzhen as it is now would be completely destroyed. 

In the long run, it is the young people themselves who pay the biggest price for this mindless destruction. As much as they voice political grievances, there can be little doubt that it is them who are staining and ruining the city which they profess to love, not the central government. They talk about their future in the city, but if there are no jobs, no opportunities, no investment, then they are robbing themselves and their peers of their life chances. The idea that Hong Kong's prosperity can also feasibly exist without the presence of the Chinese mainland is also inherently misleading.

Thus, as a whole: Hongkongers are destroying their own prosperity and success. The mindless and foaming rampage against all things deemed "China" is a massive blow to the city's reputation both on the mainland and abroad, and poses yet further consequences for already ailing economy. On this note, there should be no doubt as to what the perpetrators want to achieve and that it extends far beyond what the western media will give scope to. 

The Chinese mainland has contributed a lot to the boom of Hong Kong, and business owners are in their rights to condemn this savage behavior of rioters and support law enforcement to save everything the city has achieved before all is lost in the flames.

The author is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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