Economic anxiety keeps Hong Kong boiling: Scholar


The youth in Hong Kong are facing intense economic anxiety that led them to take to the streets of the autonomous region, a U.S.-based Chinese scholar said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Haiyun Ma said the young Hong Kongers are “really worried about their future”.

“The young Hong Kong generation has no hope because on one hand, there is China’s economic rise […] Chinese millionaires and billionaires go and purchase properties in Hong Kong. Therefore, people in Hong Kong know that they cannot get enough payment because Hong Kong is losing compatibility with other Chinese cities like Shanghai,” said Haiyun, who teaches in Maryland-based Frostburg State University.

Interestingly, in an attempt to quell ongoing anti-government resentment, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Wednesday announced incentives for local population. Lam said her government will set aside HK$5 billion ($10 million) to provide a total of 10,000 units of transitional housing in next three years.

Lam tried to address the Legislative Council but was interrupted twice by pro-democracy lawmakers. She was forced to make television address.

Hong Kong, an autonomous region under China since 1998, is witnessing protests since early June, against the Lam administration’s move to legalize extradition to mainland China.

Even after the bill was officially dumped, the protests continued unabated.

Lam invoked a colonial-era Emergency Regulations Ordinance in October, first time in over 50 years, imposing ban on wearing face masks, in order to curb unrelenting protests in the region.

Economic anxiety

The Frostburg State University scholar said that with economic rise of China, “there is a tendency that cities like Shanghai try to replace Hong Kong”.

“That is why the young Hong Kong generation is facing financial difficulty to survive — like to purchase a flat, home or some other thing,” he said referring to “too crowded” streets of the city, once known for vibrant businesses.

“Situation is like a whole family is living in a single room,” he said.

Haiyun said that China tried to “totally nationalize” Hong Kong since it was handed over by Britain to Beijing in 1997.

“Now, Beijing will encourage Hong Kongers to go to neighboring Chinese cities and provide them with some incentives,” he said on possible solution to problems of the Hong Kongers.

“Secondly, Beijing may send Chinese money and businessmen to Hong Kong to set up huge companies to provide employment,” he added.

But, he said, local government of Hong Kong has to be more responsible for any solution to the ongoing crisis.

Referring to Chinese president’s statement in which he said those “trying to break China will be crushed”, Haiyun said: “[It] is a direct threat to Hong Kong and [an] indication that China will use military force in future in Hong Kong.”

“Of course, there are political issues that people in Hong Kong saw what happened in Xinjiang and other parts of China and then the extradition law [which has now been withdrawn],” he explained.

“That is why people [in Hong Kong] are really worried,” he added.
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