The future of Hong Kong: Foreword26 October, 2010, 17:14. Posted by Zarathustra
Tags: Economy, Hong Kong, Politics
1st July 1997, Hong Kong was handed over from the United Kingdom back to People’s Republic of China.
2st July 1997, the Asian Financial Crisis started. Months later, it affected Hong Kong finally, triggering the epic decline of property prices by almost 70% in 6 years and long period of deflation which made Hong Kong people suffered a period of slow economic growth. At the height of this persisted economic problem, it would be a great surprise if you could not read any news on people committing suicide after failure of managing their personal finances as their homes went into negative equity.
In 2003, the SARS epidemic caused death and panic in the city, and Hong Kong had to be “bailed out” by China through relaxed travelling restrictions to Hong Kong, the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). The Hong Kong government stopped their “involvement” with the real estate market, together with the improvement of the economy, finally led to the turnaround of the real estate market in the next 5 years or so.
On the surface, Hong Kong now looks prosperous: shopping malls are always packed with people, stuff like fine dining and wine tasting are increasingly popular even among middle-class, Hong Kong property market is getting to their new height since 1997, Hong Kong stock exchange becomes one of the top in the world with large IPOs flows, and the riches are becoming even richer. But there is something wrong: The economic prosperity is not universally felt by the general public. The poorer population are getting poorer, the ladder for young generation to climb up in the economic status has broken, and the economy is increasingly relying on real estate and financial services sectors. The prosperity is unevenly distributed, if you will.
The people higher up in the government machine and corporate management have no idea what are really needed for Hong Kong, and it is very understandable. They are probably the University Graduates 20-30 years ago, when there were only two Universities in Hong Kong: the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. University graduates were the Crème de la Crème, and when they graduated 20-30 years ago, it was the era of miraculous growth of Hong Kong economy. They did not know how fortunate they have been, but they would rather attribute their success to their own hard-work and intelligence. They are still quite young, probably still in their 40s or 50s, well able to work for another decade. Being so successful in their age, they are earning big salary, delegating most of their work to their younger generations subordinates, and being very complacent about how things work, while at the same time forever complaining how bad their young subordinates are (for instance, they think the English standard of younger generations are bad, which is a bit of a joke, because many of them speak pretty bad English as well). To them, life is probably good, and there is no reason for them to change the status quo.
However, in the eyes of younger generations, these old chaps are the stumbling block to their climb of the social economic ladder. There are whole lots of problems within the government and every company run by these old chaps, but they are very complacent and would like to maintain their ways of lives and work. Yes they are experienced, but experienced does not always make people smarter. The reality is they are resistant to change, unable to keep up with the latest knowledge and technology, doing work inefficiently while thinking they are very efficient.
The young generation is not entirely without their faults, but their faults were planted by their parents. While their parents were living in a huge economic boom, in which as long as you studied well, got into famous schools and Universities, you would get a nice job in an international bank and be rich after working for 20 years. This mentality has been time and again injected into the youth’s mind, without realising that it does not work.
Where is Hong Kong headed to? In this series, I am going to attack the key problems, in my view, of Hong Kong. At the end of the series, I will have some partial solutions for the problems. Below are the agenda:
I wish policy makers and business leaders in Hong Kong to read, as well as to urge young people in Hong Kong to realise whether we are currently headed to a right direction. Or else Hong Kong can only rely on rich folks from China.
In short, this is my game plan to save Hong Kong from its death.