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Hong Kongers resist embrace of mainland China

posted 26 Apr 2015, 12:28 by HKIP News   [ updated 26 Apr 2015, 12:34 ]

The following is an extract of an article written by Jack Chang for The Japan Times 26 April 2015 edition.
(Source: http://bit.ly/1Gm26fD)


Eighteen years after this world financial hub returned from colonial British control to Chinese rule, many say they feel more alienated and less trusting than ever of the central Chinese government and even the people visiting from across the border. That has presented leaders in Beijing with one of their biggest political headaches as they try to project a more unified, confident image abroad.

The complaints range from the small to the sweeping, from the perceived rudeness of Chinese tourists to fears that leaders in Beijing are sabotaging the freedoms and rule of law that have long distinguished Hong Kong from the rest of China. The resentment grew when Beijing issued a policy paper last year making clear the central government’s power to decide the city’s affairs, and when it endorsed a hard-line approach to pro-democracy activists who blocked streets in Occupy Central protests seeking electoral reforms.

Recently, scuffles have broken out along the northern border during protests over the influx of mainland shoppers, and Hong Kong continues to seethe with anti-mainland tension after the city’s government unveiled its Beijing-approved electoral reform package Wednesday.

Failure to win the hearts and minds of sophisticated, cosmopolitan Hong Kong bodes ill for Beijing’s plans to peacefully reunify with the self-governing island of Taiwan as well as quell divisions at home, said Mark Clifford, head of the Asia Business Council and the former editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

“There was a perception that Hong Kong would be more like the mainland,” Clifford said. “There was a perception that the two places would merge. But after 150 years of British rule, the interesting development is Hong Kong’s own sense of identity.

“The policy of the Chinese government and the Hong Kong government of trying to force more integration, integration on every level, but especially economic, has created a backlash among ordinary Hong Kong people.” […]

A Chinese University of Hong Kong poll of city residents found that people’s self-identification as Chinese fell from 38 percent in 2010 to 31 percent three years later. […]

Jewellery store saleswoman Sakura Tse, 30, said she longs for the days of colonial British rule, when the city’s manners and even its architecture were classier. She said she fears the political repression and violent police tactics that she sees on the mainland could become common practice there.

Tse and about 30 others lead the grass-roots group Hong Kongese Priority, which calls for independence from China, a stance she said infuriates her parents.

“They just think it’s good enough for you to have food and your life,” Tse said. “But I don’t think food and life are what I’m looking for. Freedom. For me, freedom is the most important.”

Like Tse, Leung of the anti-traders group said he was prepared to fight for his city’s autonomy from the rest of China.

“We need to get away from the communists to get our life back,” Leung said. “It’s not Beijing who will take things away from Hong Kong. It’s the Hong Kong people who, little by little, will hand it over to Beijing.”