Know Your Ethnic Tensions: Hong Kong


Following an informal poll last week that saw nearly 750,000 Hong Kongers vote in favor of “universal suffrage,” Beijing has reacted angrily, branding the poll a “farce” and “illegal.” As hundreds of thousands marched for the annual July 1 protest against mainland interference, the notion of  ‘One Country, Two Systems’ has become dangerously imperiled. To help understand the complex dynamics of China’s most freewheeling city, CDS offers this simple but handy guide

Hong Kong: a powder-keg of democracy

Hong Kong: a powder-keg of democracy

1) Founded by the British in 1842, Hong Kong means “Fragrant Harbor.” Hong Kongers boast that their harbor is more fragrant today than at any time since the Opium Wars

2) Hong Kong is a World City of around seven million Permanent Residents, and about 12 million mainlanders popping over for some milk

3) In 1984, after losing to the wily Deng Xiaoping, the British reluctantly ceded Hong Kong to the Chinese. Thirteen years later, much-loved ruler King Chris of Patten finally set sail, bound for an exile of well-paid consultancies and non-executive directorships

4) Hong Kong is still referred to as the “lost province” by senior Westminster mandarins, who have even offered Chinese leaders a straight-swap for Scotland

5) Traditionally, Hong Kong is known fondly as the “Pearl of the Orient” or, more recently, “China without the Bullshit”

6) Although Hong Kong once boasted Asia’s foremost film industry, many of its directors now ply their craft on the mainland, producing such notable works as 1998’s Feudal Affairs, classic rom-com series Carry On… Blowing the Boss (2012) or next year’s hit sequel Overheard 5: Full Tap

7) Hong Kong is the only city in China where residents can buy a ticket to the Tiananmen Square Massacre museum but can’t actually afford a studio apartment

8) The city has a proud history of non-violent demonstration, such as the annual candlelit memorial for victims of the 1989 massacre, 2003’s ‘Article 23’ march and the 2012 ‘For Christ’s Sake, Dude, There’s a Bathroom Right There’ protests

9) In recent years, tensions have risen sharply over many issues, such as Chinese mothers choosing to give birth in Hong Kong hospitals, uncouth behavior and spiraling real-estate prices. Experts fear it’s only a matter of time before a Hong Kong mother deliberately lets her child take a dump on the Beijing subway, thus igniting ‘Protocol 4’

10) Following a visa crackdown on the mainland, democratic Hong Kong now hosts the largest number of overseas journalists who’d still rather be living in one of the most polluted, repressive cities in Asia

11) Beijing recently released a controversial White Paper on ‘One Country, Two Systems’ – which the city’s residents are urging visiting mainlanders to use when crapping in public next time

Keep track of your ethnic tensions. Follow @chinadailyshow on Twitter


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  • Chaz

    5, 10 & 11. Brilliant.