The protests in Hong Kong with the interference of Beijing, the action of financial capital or obscure forces in the background to explain, is not enough as a statement. The desire for freedom and the call for democracy, which our media repeatedly put into play, is also bound to arise to a very good extent in western wishful thinking. For democracy alone does not fill up and through free elections, no one has yet got a roof over his head.
Although it is not to be overlooked and should be that Western forces are trying more or less openly to participate in the protests in Hong Kong, it cannot be explained by the mass participation of the residents in the events alone. So there must also be other reasons that drive people to the streets.
However, since the Western media focus on political events and their Western interpretation or their propagandist processing, little is reported about the circumstances of the people in Hong Kong.
Is some evidence that the internal state of the special zone itself and the relationship between Hong Kong people and the mainland Chinese are for the events responsible. From some reports of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) it becomes clear that there is a strong dislike on the part of many Hong Kong Chinese against their countrymen on the mainland. This “hate China” refers not only to the policy of Beijing, but there are in the ranks of the activists, not a few of the “don’t direct your anger solely against the Chinese government, but against mainland Chinese as a whole”. Many “define their Hong Kong identity as explicitly anti-Chinese”.
This is all the more surprising because “most of Hong Kong comes from the mainland itself and still has relatives there”. It shows a similar phenomenon as in Europe and particularly in Germany after the wave of refugees in the year 2015. Rejection and hostility towards the newcomers are not only from the “old established” German population, but also of people who had come as immigrants to Germany.
But equally interesting is the attitude of the Western media, which otherwise always pretend to be committed to Western values. On the Hong Kong issue, however, they support precisely those forces that they put at the door of Europe as right-wing populists because of their hostility to immigrants.
If there were differences in Europe between immigrants from foreign countries and the national populations, it becomes clear from Hong Kong’s example that the national issue is only advanced in the discussion of refugees and immigrants and that there are other problems behind it. In the case of Hong Kong, both cases are Chinese. Despite the same national identity, the Chinese from the mainland in Hong Kong are not welcome and are perceived by many as strangers and threats and treated accordingly. You and Beijing are blamed for the deterioration of living conditions in Hong Kong. This is similar to the sensitivities in Europe and also the USA.
Hong Kong’s daily bread
This is why many protesters in Hong Kong are advocating “ greater independence of their city from the Chinese motherland. ( … ) Their anger, however, is based on the economic situation in which the Special Administrative Region of China has maneuvered into it”. Many do not see a future for themselves because of economic conditions.
In order to describe these conditions in more detail, the FAZ quotes a protesters who, in their opinion, seems to describe the everyday conditions very well: “we will never be able to afford an apartment. We’re supposed to work around the clock. However, the mainland Chinese who emigrate overtake us every day”. According to a fixed rate, up to 150 Chinese people from the mainland can receive a residence permit in Hong Kong per day, which seems to be increasingly perceived by many Hong Kong residents as a threat.
This felt situation is confirmed by the figures. “Since 2003, house prices in Hong Kong have roughly tripled”. On the other hand, the income of employees has hardly changed. “If the average monthly income is 17,500 Hong Kong dollars (2005 euros), the average monthly rent of a one-room apartment is 16,500 Hong Kong dollars”.
It is therefore no wonder that many people in Hong Kong can only afford the smallest sleeping cells as accommodation, the so-called and widespread cage dwellings. The extent of the social gap is illustrated by the contradiction between the mass of those who have to live in such circumstances and the 21 richest Hong Kong citizens. In May 2018, they had assets of 1.83 trillion Hong Kong dollars (206 billion euros).
Hong Kong is in fierce competition with the Rest of the country and continues to fall behind in this competition, especially in relation to Shenzhen, a few kilometres away on mainland China, but also in relation to the financial centre of Singapore.
Shenzhen, which was still very insignificant in the 1990s and has grown mainly by Hong Kong Investments, has within a few years increased its economic performance so much that it has “overtaken Hong Kong in the gross national product”.
The rise of Shenzhen and other cities on the mainland has direct consequences for the Hong Kong population. While Hong Kong’s business world benefits from the strong increase in Chinese purchasing power from the mainland, living conditions for the Rest of society deteriorate. “The many Hotels have caused the rents to explode. Milk powder for babies and vaccines are scarce because they are bought in large quantities by tourists”.
The high investments that China makes in Hong Kong and the money that the mainland Chinese bring to the city as tourists do not come down in society. The situation in Hong Kong is thus the same as in other leading capitalist states. Despite huge investments in the economy and an incomparably low tax rate for corporate profits is not more on the old creed of bourgeois Economics, the promotion of the economy leads to a rise in the General prosperity.
The stock market prices in Hong Kong have risen from high to high for years, as in the leading capitalist states. “China’s direct investment in Hong Kong stands at over $ 600 billion, 70 percent of the city’s total economic output”. The profit tax is only 16.5 percent, “ significantly lower than the average of the G-20 countries (28 percent)” and yet people live in cages and have to do their work around the clock.
Voices from the mainland
Occasionally, the FAZ then admits a different picture about the living conditions and the self-confidence of the mainland Chinese and their relationship with Hong Kong. For “since China has been rich and powerful, the view of the neighboring city has changed”. She quotes a young Chinese from Shenzhen, who gives a very different picture of the situation than the rumours of the messages that are otherwise distributed through Western media consumers.
He studied in Hong Kong himself, so he knows what he’s talking about. “He is by no means jealous of his demonstrative peers on the other side of the river. I think we have more freedom you don’t have. ( … ) I can move to any city in China that interests me. ( … ) The Hong Kong people set themselves limits because they refuse to work on the mainland”.
The political demonstrations on the other side of the Pearl River and the struggle of the people of Hong Kong for freedom and Western values, clearly show a completely different understanding of freedom and values than the Western media always want to convey to their consumers. “The most important goal is a better life. Freedom is only a means, not an end in itself”.
And a mainland Chinese student in Hong Kong quotes the FAZ in terms of beliefs and values: “(…) I also had them before I came to Hong Kong”. In this way, the FAZ gives a completely different picture of freedom in China than it usually tries to bring to its readers.
The Hong Kong population is now feeling the negative side of the free markets as well as the USA by Donald Trump. In order to promote the movement of goods and capital, a neoliberal economic doctrine has reduced the influence of the state on the economy. The result was investment and relocation of production from the old industrial sites of the developed capitalist states to emerging countries such as China with well-trained and cheap labour.
Unlike the old economic Nations, countries such as China and Vietnam are flourishing. This is due not only to Western investment, but primarily to the higher stability of these States, whose companies are not so wracked by the struggle of different interests, such as in the States of the West. The self-consciousness of the mainland Chinese has grown with the economic and technological success of your company. China and Vietnam manage to lead people to millions out of poverty. And all this under the leadership of a Communist party. Is this the Chinese threat that people are increasingly trying to paint on the wall in the Western media?