I was still in primary school when I watched the 1 July 1997 handover ceremony on television. Although I was little, I well remember that before 1997, many HongKongers were proud that though administered by Britain, Hong Kong had emerged as an international finance centre. As China had finally opened itself to the world in the 1970s, Hong Kong took advantage of its position as the door to China.
Hong Kong has become an irony
Perhaps it was ironic that insofar as HongKongers were very proud of Hong Kong, thousands left en mass before 1997. It was even more ironic when, after 1997, many HongKongers returned to Hong Kong. Many Hong Kong migrants realised that it was too difficult to make a living in their new adopted homes, and many dads (and sometimes mothers) flew back to Hong Kong to work whilst their families remained overseas.
Hong Kong in an ever changing China
Before 1997, Hong Kong had embraced itself as the gateway of China after it has shut its doors to the world for decades. But since the 2000s, China had perhaps come of age. As China’s infrastructure matures, foreign investments no longer needed to invest in China through Hong Kong. In this transition, Hong Kong redefined itself as a services provider to Chinese consumers. Hong Kong became a mega mall for Chinese shoppers.
We are living off the past
Where money used to flow into China through Hong Kong, money now flow the other way as Chinese scramble to offload their perceived devaluing Yuan. Chinese enterprises are buying up Hong Kong assets, particularly land. Developers and the Government fully embrace the hot money, whilst ordinary HongKongers are quick to antagonise the buyers when they feel they no longer are able to afford homes of their own.
What is clear is that Hong Kong must reinvent itself. To do this, we must reinvent ourselves in light of the rapidly changing world. We must differentiate a dream from reality. Yes, we should dare to dream, but must also do what is realistic in the circumstances in order to reach it. In the ideal world, nothing is impossible. But in the real world, doing impossible things require doing many smaller doable tasks, one step at a time. Otherwise, we achieve nothing.