Reflections of “Hong Kong as a cosmopolitan” (14/5/2010)

(Chinese version not available)

I remembered when I visited Taiwan several years ago, most threads in TV news report focused on international issues. I picked up again the once familiar country names such as Lebanon, lots of organisations and parties, etc . A thought struck my head: it seemed lesser and lesser international news was reported in local TV. The proportion was changed, for example TVB’s “News at Six-Thirty”,  from a previous half-half basis to 70/30 or even 80/20. The reduction may be related to the interim advertisement time introduced in 1990s, which the result is trimming the foreign news section.

I recall the above after listened to a RTHK radio programme “Hong Kong as a cosmopolitan (國際都會) ” in Free as Wind (講東講西) on Monday.

Why do Hong Kong, which HKSAR government claimed a “cosmopolitan”, is not what it meant to be now?

I can think of 3 reasons: The return to sovereign after 1997 ; 2. The rise of PRC ;3. Mainland Immigrants Effect

The first point is obvious. When Britan ruled over us, our governor, chancellors, chief officers and most bosses are English-speaking foreigners. We need to climb up the social ladder by communicating with them, we drink what they drink, we read what they read, we play what they play. We appreciate their merits such as conformity,  sensor of humor,  respect both family and work life, etc. As such we have clear reference to modify our way to live.

Another merit before 1997 is the international relations bring from Britan. We can take active part in international events as a member of Commonwealth of Nations. If Hong Kong is only an ordinary city in China, it is impossible to have a seat in international conference, as the seat should be reserved by either Beijing or Shanghai. It is relatively easier to be an outstanding person in particular trade in a population of 6,000,000,  which encourage young people to strive for their bright future.

Now, used a very rough calculation, by assuming talented people are evenly distributed in different trades, the chance of success is 1.3 billion / 6 millions = 216 times harder than 30 years ago!

The second point is the rise of PRC, which provide a large market and cheap labour costs for the whole world.

Private sectors in Hong Kong  no longer need to introduce/copying the ways foreign country does to make money. They just provide an intellectual agency services between China and foreign countries.  The excessive labour force, on the other hand,  suffered from high land-price policy which make them more and more difficult to survive.

The change of climate is so fast that, adding to the soaring land prices pushed down many commemorable historical buildings, people in HK get more and more attached to the good old days.

The third point is about the Mainland immigrants. The population of HK in mid-80s is about 6,000,000 and now is around 7,000,000,  a rough population grow of 15%.  It is obvious that most of them come from China. As the speaker of the radio programme suggested, most new immigrants are not willing to melt into Hong Kong society and culture, as they found Hong Kong becoming more and more “mainlandized(大陸化)”, so they need not change themselves. Another reason is they are trapped in remoted town like Tin Shui Wai, make the assimilation process slower.

Maybe this is why core values of some youngsters, being “Hongkongese”, are so different than I expected. For example they protest the China Communist Party’s point of view towards June 4 incident,  being arrogance of everything about China, etc.

All we need to do is to re-open the door towards the whole world, apart from learning new knowledge, we need to take reference of other lives in the Earth to check ours. The previous success of Hong Kong should not be re-collected only , but warn us put forward the right step.

What are the right steps?  I can think of

– good command of written and spoken English
– eager to learn
– seek alternatives

but first of all : find a job!  🙂

P.S.  I used the term “cosmopolitan” rather than “asia world city” as I adhere to the meaning of chinese name “國際都會”. “World City” is no different than “World Place” or “City”. The term “asia” further make the terms self-contradictory.

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