Thursday, 29 June 2017

Celebrating 20 Years of What?

Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan putting on the smiles in Hong Kong
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Hong Kong today and the city has pulled out all the stops -- and security -- to make sure nothing is going to rain on his parade, except maybe some showers according to the Hong Kong Observatory.

The Wan Chai area around the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre is a sequestered area, so it's best to completely avoid the district altogether.

And anyway it's a party for the Party, not for Hong Kong people.

Xi may not be pleased that the outrage over the news of dissident Liu Xiaobo's terminal cancer is getting more attention than the 20th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong back to the motherland.

Local activists occupy the Golden Bauhinia sculpture again
But host Hong Kong will do its best to try to keep Xi happy, though local activists groups again stormed the Golden Bauhinia sculpture again yesterday demanding that Liu be released.

And July 1 there are plans for the annual protest march that may gain more marchers because of Liu.

Nevertheless, Xi will be all smiles and check out infrastructure projects in the city, like the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and West Kowloon Cultural District, both under construction.

However the bridge is marred by controversy over the quality of the cement used, as it is believed the laboratory conducting tests on the cement may have fudged the results, making Hong Kong people terrified of driving on the bridge.

And then there is the opaque circumstances under which incoming Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor arranged for objects from the Forbidden City in Beijing to be housed in Hong Kong in West Kowloon.

It looks like she did it to garner brownie points and we know the result of the CE elections...

The Umbrella Movement a watershed moment for Hong Kong
Leaders have repeatedly told us that these are all for our benefit, to educate us about China's history so we can be proud of it, that greater economic ties in the "Greater Bay Area" will lead to increased economic development... but will it turn us into people more grateful that we are closer to the motherland?

In the first few years after the handover, people were too busy making money off of mainlanders to worry about political implications. But then resentment grew as locals felt threatened by mainlanders snapping up all kinds of goods, services, and homes, driving prices up and making commodities scarce.

The pent-up frustration exploded in 2014 with the Umbrella Movement that in the end didn't get anywhere with political reforms which resulted in disillusionment on the part of democracy activists.

Meanwhile the Legislative Council is at a stalemate and housing prices continue to rise even higher, creating even more pessimism that there is any hope in ever getting a leg up in society.

The days of dreaming to be like Li Ka-shing evaporated years ago and now it's only focused on trying to eke out a decent living and just hope for the best.

Is this what we're celebrating 20 years later? How is this something to be happy and proud of?

But alas, big milestones must be marked, and both Hong Kong and Chinese governments hope that by throwing money into extensive celebrations that people will have a good time.

However, the real party is in Wan Chai, where the sequestered will celebrate what they perceive as success.

The rest of us will continue to march on.

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