Causes of Hong Kong 2019 Prolonged Unrest

August 4, 2007

[source: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu] 

 

In light of the prolonged unrest in Hong Kong, I have decided to create a blog explaining at a high level the causes for my English speaking friends.  This is merely an introduction, and in no way an in depth analysis of the situation.  In very simplistic terms, I believe main causes are:

 

  1. Hong Kong Government's allowing social-economic conditions deteriorate for the less-well-off, while enacting policies that consistently benefit the rich thereby exacerbate the already large wealth gap

  2. Chinese Central Government reneged on the promise for Universal Suffrage, which was guaranteed in Basic Law Article 45

  3. Chinese Central Government interferes many times with Hong Kong government policies since 1997 when Hong Kong was handed back to China, despite its promise of 50-Year-No-Change as part of the Sino-British Joint Declaration

 

The protests continue to escalate because of public anger towards alleged collusion between pro-China legislator, Triad organized crime and police in intimidation strategy.  Police increasing brutality towards protesters also continues to escalate anger:

 

  • police fire bean bag bullets directly to protesters' head and face in close range,

  • police disguise as protesters and beat them, instigating violence from protesters

  • firing tear gas in subway station, which is a confined area and extremely dangerous

  • firing tear gas in highly dense populated area, causing residence not part of protest breathe in tear gas while inside their residential unit

  • push down protesters and civilians on escalators in MTR subway station

  • and many other examples (see section below)

 

Note the following:

 

  • I agree that there is bias in my selections of news articles, because my intention is to demonstrate why a large number of Hong Kong people are extremely unsatisfied with Hong Kong Government.

  • I also give examples of conflicts with mainlanders, but this doesn't mean all mainlanders are viewed this way by Hong Kong people.  There are many Hong Kong people working and living side by side with their mainlander friends peacefully.

  • Note that I mostly simply copy and paste verbatim from articles, with the links right below each paragraph.  I am not writing a paper, and therefore pardon me for the 'plagiarism'.

 

This blog is divided into following sections:

 

IMMEDIATE TRIGGER OF CURRENT UNREST: 2019 HONG KONG EXTRADITION BILL

1 Alleged Collusion of Police and Thugs to Beat Protesters as Intimidation Strategy

2 Police Brutality Towards Protesters

3 Suppression of Freedom of Speech


INTERFERENCE OF CHINESE GOVERNMENT SINCE 1997, DESPITE PROMISE OF 50-YEAR-NO-CHANGE
1 2014 Reneged on the Promise for Universal Suffrage
2 Barring and DIsqualifying Candidates / Legislator based on political grounds
3 2012 Patriot Classes
4 Infringement on Freedom of Expression
5 2003 Article 23 National Security Law
6 Passing of Controversial Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (Co-location) Bill 
7 2015 - Disappearance of Causeway Bay Books staff

8 Surveillance fears over new HK ID cards

 

ECONOMIC PROBLEMS
1 Wealth Gap largest in 45 years
2 Monopoly of Market
3 Housing Crisis
4 Causes of Housing Crisis
5 Lantau Tomorrow Vision (明日大嶼願景)

 

ECONOMIC BENEFITS FROM MAINLANDER TOURISTS

 

OTHER SOCIAL PROBLEMS
1 Grossly Understaffing at Public Hospitals
2 Cross-border Childbirth: Mainland Mothers
3 China Milk Powder Scandal Triggered Hong Kong Milk Powder Shortage
4 Parallel Traders from Mainland
5 Noise Pollution by Mainlander Street Performers

6 Other Conflicts Between Hong Kong Citizens and Mainland Tourists


FUTURE PLANS FOR HONG KONG:  Greater Bay Area

 

 

IMMEDIATE TRIGGER OF CURRENT UNREST: 2019 HONG KONG EXTRADITION BILL

The Extradition Bill was initiated after a 19-year-old Hong Kong man murdered his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan February 2018. The man fled Taiwan and returned to Hong Kong.  Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam used this as an excuse to push ahead a highly controversial bill to allow extraditions to mainland China.  Critics say this will expose Hong Kong to China's deeply flawed justice system, and it would lead to further erosion of the city's judicial independence.


To avoid the controversial bill, the Hong Kong Bar Association wants the government to work out an extradition arrangement with Taiwan instead of changing the law to include mainland China.  This will avoid the controversial bill completely.   Although Taiwan authorities had approached directly with the Hong Kong government to work out a special arrangement, the Hong Kong government did not respond.  Taiwan also stated it would not enter into any extradition agreement with Hong Kong that defined Taiwan as part of the People's Republic of China.

 

Because of HK Chief Executive Carrie Lam's insistence to pass the bill in a very short period of time, 1 million protesters came out on 9 June requesting the bill be withdrawn.   9 June 11 pm, the government issued a press statement, insisted the second reading debate on the bill would resume on 12 June, thereby causing further outrage and protests.

 

On 15 June, Carrie Lam finally announced that she would suspend the second reading of the bill.

 

On 16 June, 2 millions came out in protest, demanding complete withdrawal of the bill.

 

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2186045/strike-extradition-deal-solely-taiwan-instead-changing

 


Alleged Collusion of Police and Thugs to Beat Protesters as Intimidation Strategy

[An image from a video showing individuals in white with wooden sticks chasing and assaulting passengers at Yuen Long station on Sunday. Photo: SCMP]

 

On 21 July, hundreds of thugs dressed in white beat anyone in sight.  Police was informed the day prior by the few who received tips of next day's beating.  Police are called again numerous times on the day of 21 July when bystanders saw hundreds of thugs in white gathered with weapons. Police never showed up until after the thugs had finished first round of beating anyone in sight and had already left. After police left, thugs reentered a subway station again to continue attacking anyone in sight.  Pro-Beijing legislator Junius Ho was seen in a video days prior asking for violence against Hong Kong citizens. On 21 July, he was seen shaking hands with white shirt thugs.  Police and pro-China Legislator Janius Ho are suspected of collusion with thugs to intimidate Hong Kong citizens.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/22/where-were-the-police-hong-kong-outcry-after-masked-thugs-launch-attack

 

On 5 Aug, 30 to 40 thugs in white and blue used sticks and knives to attack protesters. 1 person suffered very deep knife wounds, while another suffered serious head injuries. Police, just like July 21 incident, didn't appear till thugs had left. Bystanders indicated to police direction of the thugs, but police ignored.

 

荃灣黑衣人被斬見骨 社區主任:警沒按指示追捕

 

 

Police Brutality Towards Protesters

Very early in June when police tried to control the first confrontation with protesters, police was seen to shoot rubber bullets to protesters' head even though they were quite a distance apart and stationary.  Police brutality very soon escalates, until on 11 August in Hong Kong, police were:

 

1. Shooting bean bag bullets directly to protesters' head and face in close range. A female protester’s eye was blinded.
2. Brutally beat up the arrested protesters with baton, despite already down on ground
3. Disguise as demonstrators and beat them, intentionally instigate violence from protesters so they can be arrested
4. Shooting tear gas bullets into MTR subway station, in violation of safe use protocol
5.Push down protesters and civilians on escalators in MTR subway station
6. Allowing gangsters chasing up and beating protesters and civilians
7. Launching tear gas canisters outside of the elderly home and nearby residences, causing tear gas entering their residences

 

 [FELIX LAM @HK.IMAGINAIRE]

 

 

Suppression of Freedom of Speech

Suppression of free speech in HK Cathay Pacific, including posting opinions on Facebook:

. at least 26 people had been fired from Cathay in protest-linked terminations.

. Summary firings, often after being shown screengrabs of their Facebook and other social media posts.

. Cathay Pacific encouraging staff to report and criticise others

. Some crew were shown posts and updates on their private social media accounts and required to provide an explanation with evidence. Others were handed termination letters without any accusations

Background:
The revised whistle-blower code of conduct added a new section on political activities, which barred staff from using company resources to express political opinions, and which stipulated that should staff seek permission to take part in protests, and should not wear uniform while doing so and should not give the impression the company has endorsed the protest.

Last week, the company also warned that staff’s social media postings would be heavily scrutinised

“You are accountable for what is posted into the public domain from your personal social media account,” the notice said, emphasising staff could not post anything that would bring the company into disrepute, interfere with the privacy of other staff or act as an endorsement from the airline.

In the current climate, fearful employees are shutting down their Facebook and Instagram accounts

Other related links:

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/10/01/sacked-hong-kong-cathay-staff-decry-cultural-revolution-purge/?fbclid=IwAR2zajpD6pxU1u17ocWDyBcjSuABXYl-L8Anp2IYYzskcvhHVPKklCPJ3vg


https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-30/hong-kong-flight-attendants-seek-explanation-for-cathay-lay-offs

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3024856/cathay-pacific-urges-staff-speak-and-act-whistle-blowers

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-49322930

 

 

INTERFERENCE OF CHINESE GOVERNMENT SINCE 1997, DESPITE PROMISE OF 50-YEAR-NO-CHANGE

China's then leader, Deng Xiao-ping, devised the formula: "one country two systems", and promised to leave Hong Kong's system unchanged for 50 years.    However, there are numerous instances since 1997 where Chinese Central Government interferes with Hong Kong.

 

 

2014 Reneged on the Promise for Universal Suffrage

Lu Ping, then director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, promised in 1993 again: "How Hong Kong develops democracy … is entirely within the autonomy of Hong Kong," he said on the front page of the overseas edition of the People's Daily in March.

 

Article 45 of Basic Law also says "The ultimate aim is the selection of the chief executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures." (https://www.basiclaw.gov.hk/en/basiclawtext/chapter_4.html)

 

In 2004, the central government reneged on this pledge and introduced a five-step procedure under which the National People's Congress Standing Committee (全国人民代表大会常务委员会) had to approve when Hong Kong could take the first step. How Hong Kong develops democracy was, from that point on, no longer within the autonomy of Hong Kong.

 

At the end of August 2014, the Standing Committee of China's parliament announced that candidates for chief executive must gain the support of a majority of a nominating committee, which is arranged in ways that ensure Beijing supporters always greatly outnumber others, and thus guarantees the central government’s control of the outcome. 

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specials/100_wag_hongkong/index.shtml
https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/04/22/china-hong-kong-political-reform-proposal-farce
https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/01/31/disqualified-hong-kong-govt-compromised-citys-free-fair-elections/

 

 

Barring and DIsqualifying Candidates / Legislator based on political grounds

In 2016, six applications for Legco candidacy were rejected. The reasons given were political: The applicants were suspected by the Returning Officers of the Electoral Affairs Commission of being advocates of independence for Hong Kong. Never before had applications for candidacy been rejected on political grounds.  There was no recourse: If your application was rejected, there was nothing you could do about it, no one you could appeal to.   Below is a summary of sequence of events:

 

  1. After the Legislative Council elections were held in September 2016, elected Legco members took their oath of office in October. The Hong Kong government reacted to the ways some took their oath by attempting to disqualify six of them, all pro-democracy, on the basis that they had failed to fulfil the requirement of successfully completing their oath of office.   

  2. Then National People’s Congress Standing Committee issued a new “interpretation” of the Basic Law article pertaining to oath-taking.   The Hong Kong government then applied the new oath-taking rules retroactively, going against one of the basic principles of common law, that you can’t hold someone legally accountable based on a law that did not apply at the time of the commission of the act in question.

  3. In all, six applicants for candidacy were disqualified, and six elected Legco members were disqualified.

 

Dec 2018, Pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu was barred from running for village representative on grounds that he advocates self-determination and believes Hong Kong people have a right to choose independence.

 

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/01/31/disqualified-hong-kong-govt-compromised-citys-free-fair-elections/

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/12/02/breaking-hong-kong-govt-bans-lawmaker-eddie-chu-entering-village-election-race/

 


2012 Patriot Classes

[國情教學手冊讚美中國模式 (黎堡照片)]

 

In 2012, HK Government tried to introduce Patriot Classes in elementary and high school.  A teaching booklet called The China Model  (中國模式國情專題教學手冊) was distributed to schools by a government-funded, pro-Beijing organization, with contents praising Chinese government with heavy bias.    It teaches, for example, that "Communist Party is a "progressive, selfless and united ruling group" (進步、無私與團結的執政集團), while United States' Democratic and Republican Parties are plagued with "fierce inter-party rivalry [that] makes them constantly fighting and citizens suffer disastrously (政黨惡鬥,人民當災)", with no mentioning of all the atrocities that the Chinese Communist Party itself committed, such as the Cultural Revolution (estimated 2 to 3 millions died), Great Leap Forward (estimated 18 to 56 millions died), and many other human rights violations that continue to this day.

 

Parents and teachers saw this is as attempt to brainwash the new generations.  100,000 protesters voiced their discontent against such brainwashing of the future generation, and the government finally backed down.


https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-19529867

反國教」五年反思 國民教育不應是碰不得的禁忌
 

 

Infringement on Freedom of Expression
In 2002, Hong Kong ranked 18th in international rankings of press freedom put forth by French-based NGO Reporters Without Borders. In 2019, it dropped to 73rd.  Business tycoons and corporations with significant business, political, or personal interests in Mainland China own many of Hong Kong’s media organizations.  Many interpret this as an attempt by Beijing to manage the political effects of the transition through media acquisition by pro-China capitalists. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, as of 2014, more than half of local media owners sit on Beijing-appointed government bodies such as the National People’s Congress.

 

The Communist Party’s Liaison Office owns at least an 80 percent market share of book distribution and retail in HK, including 51 bookstores. These bookstores do not carry books politically disagreeable to the Party.  A substantial portion of the media is owned by Party allies. 

 

Below are just a few examples of infringement on freedom of expression.  See url below for a full list:

- postal service refused to deliver Scholarism’s flyers (a pro-democracy student activist group) 
- Badiucao art exhibition at Free Expression Week closed after threats
- attack on former editor-in-chief of Ming Pao Daily, Kevin Lau, who was slashed by two assailants with meat cleavers outside a local restaurant

 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/red-capital-media-ownersh_b_7130416?guccounter=1
https://medium.com/@KongTsungGan/censorship-in-hong-kong-since-the-umbrella-movement-an-overview-8024fdad68fc
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-26349266

 

 

2003 Article 23 National Security Law

[People's Liberation Army soldiers take part in a march at a naval base in Hong Kong July 1, 2016 Photo by Bobby Yip/Reuters]

 

When drafted in early 1989, the Article 23 of Basic Law simply demanded that Hong Kong enact laws to prohibit “treason, secession, sedition, or theft of state secrets.” It did not mention “subversion,”    But after the Tiananmen Square crackdown on Beijing democracy protesters in 1989, which also set off massive demonstrations in Hong Kong, China took a tougher line and wrote a more detailed and restrictive version of Article 23.

 

Article 23 of the Basic Law now provides that “The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organisations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organisations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organisations or bodies.” 

 

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp of politicians viewed the proposed national security law as a threat to civil liberties. There was intense debate over the potential impact on human rights and freedom of expression and assembly.   

 

Half a million residents took to the streets in protest, and officials were forced to shelve it.

 

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/02/17/reviving-article-23-part-i-rise-fall-hong-kongs-2003-national-security-bill/



Passing of Controversial Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (Co-location) Bill 
In 2018, HK Government passed a bitterly contested bill to set up a joint border checkpoint with mainland China in the heart of the city.  This Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (Co-location) Bill allows for passengers at West Kowloon terminus to clear both Hong Kong and mainland border checks at a single location, which means mainland laws will be enforced on Hong Kong soil for the first time.   A similar arrangement – but in reverse – is in place at Shenzhen Bay Port, where Hong Kong officers operate in mainland territory.

 

But lawyers at the Hong Kong Bar Association have deemed West Kowloon’s co-location arrangement unconstitutional. The Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, states no mainland law shall apply in Hong Kong except those relating to defence, foreign affairs and “other matters outside the limits” of the city’s autonomy.


https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2150873/hong-kongs-controversial-china-rail-checkpoint-bill-finally

 

 

2015 - Disappearance of Causeway Bay Books staff

Causeway Bay Books bookstore sells a number of political books that are considered sensitive and banned in mainland China.   The staffs not only sell to Hong Kong citizens, but also deliver about 4,000 banned books across the border since October 2014.

 

Between October and December 2015, five staff of Causeway Bay Books went missing.  Later, there were virtual reappearances by two of the missing men, Lee Bo, in the form of letters and photographs, and Gui Minhai, in a confessional video broadcast on national television, in which they claimed that their return to mainland China was voluntary but which failed to account for their movement across national borders.

 

The five staffs were taken away while each was at various cities: in Shenzhen (China), Pattaya (Thailand), Dongguan (China), and Hong Kong.

 

On 16 June 2016, shortly after he was released back to Hong Kong, Lam Wing-kee gave a long press conference in the presence of legislator Albert Ho in which he detailed the circumstances surrounding his eight-month detention, and describing how his confession and those of his associates had been scripted and stage-managed.  He was denied access to lawyers and telephone calls during the 8 months detention.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causeway_Bay_Books_disappearances
https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/1976489/bookseller-lam-wing-kee-reveals-explosive-details-his

 

 

Surveillance fears over new HK ID cards

Hong Kong citizens are called up in an identity card replacement scheme to go to the Immigration Department to take high-definition mugshots and leave their fingerprints as well as other biometric data for their new ID cards.

 

Through the new HKID card, the government can monitor the whereabouts of people, their flow into and out of the border. For the government, the cards can serve as its eyes and ears hidden inside our bags and wallets.

 

Some fear the new HKID card may become permanent trackers for the authorities to snoop on people, especially pro-democracy activists and dissidents.  The RFID technology used may enable remote tracking of a cardholder by police or even a "smart lamppost" that the city has been trialing in some districts, thus enabling the government to track people in real time.


http://www.ejinsight.com/20141231-new-hk-identity-card-smarter-more-dangerous/

https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/07/article/surveillance-fears-over-new-hk-id-cards/

 


ECONOMIC PROBLEMS

["coffin" home: photo by Benny Lam]

 
Hong Kong ranks #1 in cost-of-living ranking in the world:  

As comparison, Toronto ranks #115,  Vancouver #112

 

https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/Insights/cost-of-living-rankings  

 

 

Hong Kong Poverty Rate:  20%.   The Hong Kong Poverty Situation report for 2016 showed that 1.35 million of the city’s 7.35 million residents were living below the official poverty line


https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/community/article/2120366/poverty-hong-kong-hits-7-year-high-one-five-people

 

 

Wealth Gap largest in 45 years

in 2017, Hong Kong was behind New York as the world’s second-most unequal city in terms of income.

 

Low-income workers are not sharing the fruits of economic growth. Real wages have only increased 12.3 per cent in the last decade. The purchasing power of the HK$34.50 minimum wage is lower than eight years ago.   The government has come under fire for relatively measly spending on poverty relief despite its HK$690 billion budget surplus and an expanding economy. 

 

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2097715/what-hope-poorest-hong-kong-wealth-gap-hits-record-high
https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/society/article/2165872/why-wealth-gap-hong-kongs-disparity-between-rich-and-poor

 


Monopoly of Market
High property prices also make it hard to start / maintain small businesses—particularly since anti-monopoly enforcement is already weak. Hong Kong, unlike most of its global peers, didn’t even have a comprehensive competition law in substantive effect until 2015. That has enabled property tycoons to fortify their empires with near-monopolies in areas such as utilities, transport and grocery stores, raising prices and stifling growth.

 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/democracy-property-and-oligarchy-in-hong-kong-11565255080?mod=flipboard

 

Many point to the dominance of Li Ka-shing, the city's richest man, whose companies straddle utilities, mobile phones, pharmaceuticals, retailing, construction and ports. Hong Kong's grocery industry is dominated by two: Park 'n Shop, a subsidiary of Mr. Li's Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. , and Wellcome, which is owned by Dairy Farm International Ltd.  The main health-and-beauty retail chains, Mannings and Watson's, are also run by Jardine and Hutchison, respectively.

 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB121381912549785741?mod=article_inline

 

With shop rents surpassing New York and becoming the highest in the world, time-honoured shops have been shutting down one after one. For example, Lee Yuen Congee Noodles (which had been in business for 42 years) lost to the expensive rent and closed down.   Traditional Hong Kong-style cafes on Tsat Tsz Mui Road were closed down one after one due to redevelopment of old buildings.  Housewives of public housing have to endure high food prices.  Hong Kong-style cafes are replaced by coffee chain around the corner that sells a cup of coffee for $20-30.

 

https://badcanto.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/loss-of-local-eateries-stirs-up-social-discontent-in-hong-kong/
https://badcanto.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/hong-kong-a-heartless-and-soulless-city-with-no-memory/

 


Housing Crisis

[The poorest live in wire cage.  The common area of a cage room is often used to wash clothes in a shared bucket.  Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images]

 

Hong Kong is one of the world’s most expensive housing market, as well as one of the most densely populated and financially unequal cities in the world.  According to a 2016 government report, at least 209,700 Hong Kong residents reside in subdivided flats with a median size of 57 square feet per person.  The poorest of the poor lives in 'wire cages'.  While others rent slightly better "coffin homes".

 

["coffin" home: photo by Benny Lam]

 

Pushed out by soaring rents, tens of thousands of people have no other option than to inhabit squatter huts, sub-divided units where the kitchen and toilet merge, coffin cubicles, and cage homes, which are rooms measuring as small as 6’ x 2.5’ traditionally made of wire mesh. “From cooking to sleeping, all activities take place in these tiny spaces,” says Lam, the photographer. To create the coffin cubicles a 400 square flat will be illegally divided by its owner to accommodate 20 double-decker beds, each costing about HK$2000 (over $250 USD) per month in rent. The space is too small to stand up in.

 

https://boingboing.net/2018/02/07/inside-hong-kongs-insanely-c.html

 

 

Causes of Housing Crisis

Hong Kong Government fails to address an overarching problem: a housing policy that favors private developers over public need, driving up prices of both rentals and sales while reducing the supply of affordable units.


One factor is Hong Kong’s tax system, which provides incentives to keep housing prices high. With relatively low income and business taxes, in keeping with the territory’s laissez-faire financial identity, Hong Kong instead gets more than one-third of its revenue from land sales and a “stamp tax” on property transactions. As a result, higher property values mean more government revenue.


Hoarding of empty flats to drive sales prices up has also been a problem for years, with developers keeping more than 9,000 new flats off the market as of June, according to government data.

Despite having big fiscal surplus, largely funded by government land sales, the proceeds of land sales go into the Capital Works Reserve Fund, which is slated for infrastructure development. Hong Kong already has exemplary infrastructure. Residents watch in frustration as the authorities splurge on Beijing-backed political white-elephant projects like the multibillion-dollar sea bridge to Macau and high-speed rail link to Shenzhen, all while they can’t afford basic housing.

 

What's required is curbing the power of Hong Kong’s property tycoons and monopolies, finding a government-revenue model that doesn’t depend on sky-high property prices, and spending far more state resources immediately on public housing and public assistance. By some measures, Hong Kong is already among the most unequal societies in the world.


https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-hong-kong-housing-island-20190403-story.html
https://www.wsj.com/articles/democracy-property-and-oligarchy-in-hong-kong-11565255080?mod=flipboard
https://www.scmp.com/business/article/2168479/hong-kong-must-tackle-abuse-colonial-era-policy-homes-its-villages-sort-out

 


Lantau Tomorrow Vision (明日大嶼願景)

The government’s main solution to exorbitant property prices is the Lantau Tomorrow Vision, a proposed land-reclamation project that will create a metropolis on 1,000 hectares of artificial islands near the territory’s largest island with an estimated cost of about $80 billion. Below are the primary criticism of the project:

 

  1. New apartments wouldn’t be available until the early 2030s—meaning a whole generation of young people could essentially remain priced out of the market even if the plan works.  

  2. high risks of cost overruns that had plagued major infrastructure projects in recent years.    

  3. the island plan is unreasonably expensive, bad for the environment and prone to catastrophe given the accelerating dangers of climate change.

  4. It appears often these reclamation project and other housing proposals are designed to benefit big business, starting with the mainland Chinese construction sector.   Mainland Chinese companies are the ones who will win construction contracts, and this amounts to a way to funnel money to Beijing.

  5. land supply could be boosted much more rapidly and cheaply by redeveloping existing brownfield commercial and agricultural sites as housing.   (Brownfields are farmland polluted by industrial activity.)    Environmental and land advocacy groups say Hong Kong’s rural New Territories have 2,545 acres of available former farmland known as brownfields. Developing just half as public housing would cost only $33.3 billion, according to the local chapter of Greenpeace, and would provide 139,000 housing units.   But private landowners operate profitable businesses on the sites that the government says would be difficult to shutter, because the business owners would demand compensation and relocation.

 

It appears that people living in a desperate housing situation are now used as an excuse to support the artificial island and all those new developments, but in the end they are not the ones who can benefit from it.

 

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/hong-kong-economy/article/3002583/lantau-tomorrow-vision-arguably-hong-kongs-most
https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/hong-kong/article/2169177/who-will-benefit-most-carrie-lams-vision-hong-kong
https://www.wsj.com/articles/democracy-property-and-oligarchy-in-hong-kong-11565255080?mod=flipboard
https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-hong-kong-housing-island-20190403-story.html

 

 

ECONOMIC BENEFITS FROM MAINLANDER TOURISTS

The inauguration of the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) in 2003 liberalized Mainland tourist visits to Hong Kong. This led to an explosive growth of Mainland visitors and severe overcrowding in Hong Kong. The adoption of Multiple Entry Individual Visit Endorsements (M-Permit) for residents of Shenzhen in 2009 exacerbated the problem.

 

However, there is no doubt that mainlander tourists contribute to Hong Kong economy. From 2004 to 2013, the increase in all visitors (IVS visitors) accounted for 24.3% (18%) of the increase in total employment in Hong Kong. Among the four key industries of Hong Kong, tourism was number one contributor to the increase in employment. Increase in M-Permit visitors from 2010 to 2013 likewise contributed little to growth of GDP (1.1%), but contributed more to growth of employment (4.5%).

 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303370839_The_Economic_Benefits_of_Mainland_Tourists_for_Hong_Kong_The_Individual_Visit_Scheme_IVS_and_Multiple_Entry_Individual_Visit_Endorsements_M-Permit

 

 

OTHER SOCIAL PROBLEMS
Grossly Understaffing at Public Hospitals

[Photo: Gov HK]


Despite accounting for 90% of the city’s patients, public hospitals only employ 40% of the HK's doctors.   Private hospitals, on the other hand, service the remaining 10% of the population whilst employing much more doctors at 60%.

 

The average ratio of nurses to in-patients at the city’s public hospitals was one to about 10, but the international standard was one nurse for every four to six patients.

 

Public Hospital beds occupancy rate often as high as 120%, sometimes 140% to 150%, resulting in extremely long wait time.  For examples:

  • 29-month wait for an ultrasound, 

  • 29-month wait for a mammogram, 

  • 23-month wait for a CT scan 

  • 17-month wait for an MRI.

 

The only alternative to avoid wait time is private hospital.  But for a low-income household in Hong Kong, or even a median wage-earner making HK$15,819 per month, an MRI scan at a private hospital can run from between HK$3,000 to HK$20,000, potentially wiping out more than an entire month’s income.

 

https://hongkongbusiness.hk/healthcare/in-focus/hong-kongs-sickly-public-healthcare-system-reaches-breaking-point
https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2098354/hong-kong-faces-medical-manpower-crisis-government
https://www.hongkongfp.com/2016/03/09/ridiculous-waiting-times-as-every-public-hospital-in-hk-exceeds-capacity/
https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/12/30/years-long-waiting-times-hong-kong-hospitals-inefficient-best-corrupt-worse/

 


Cross-border Childbirth: Mainland Mothers

Before 2013, about 200,000 babies were born to mainland parents in Hong Kong after a landmark court ruling in 2001 declared newborns should be given the right of abode regardless of their parents’ immigration status. At its peak, 40 per cent of some 90,000 annual births in the city were to mainland parents, putting pressure on Hong Kong’s health care, education and welfare services.  These babies were delivered by mainland women who ­gatecrashed the city’s emergency wards, almost half at over­crowded public hospitals, at late stages of pregnancy in order to obtain right of abode for the child.

 

In 2013, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced a “zero-quota” policy to ban mainland women from having babies in Hong Kong.

 

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/1938268/mainland-women-gatecrashing-hong-kongs-maternity

 

 

China Milk Powder Scandal Triggered Hong Kong Milk Powder Shortage

Mainland parents often favour foreign brands of formula following a scandal in 2008 in which it was found that Chinese producers had mixed the chemical melamine into baby milk powder, which led to 30,000 toddlers falling sick and six dying.  Hong Kong soon experienced a shortage of the milk powder, when Hong Kong mothers found themselves competing with parallel traders from mainland snapping up supplies in Hong Kong for resale across the border in mainland China.  The gradual relaxation of mainland China’s one-child policy since 2015 would further aggravate shortages in the city.

 

https://www.scmp.com/article/654714/melamine-31-more-milk-powders-widening-scandal
https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2115384/lawmakers-district-councillors-rally-against-review-hong

 


Parallel Traders from Mainland
Parallel trading relates to salespeople from mainland exploiting a multiple entry visa policy to import tax-free items from Hong Kong across the border, often resulting in a shortage of goods and elevated retail prices in the northern New Territories. Sheung Shui is one of the most affected neighbourhoods.  

 

In 2019, 30,000 protesters took to Sheung Shui’s streets on Saturday to protest against parallel traders from China.  Protesters added that residents were forced to bear higher prices and had fewer choices when buying groceries, plus they were left to deal with discarded packaging left behind by traders who resell certain goods in mainland China.  Traders have been filmed using public spaces outside Sheung Shui MTR station to pack their goods before crossing the border, blocking traffic as well as littering the roads with packaging.

 

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/07/13/reclaim-sheung-shui-thousands-hongkongers-protest-influx-parallel-traders-china/

 


Noise Pollution by Mainlander Street Performers

HK Residents suffer noise pollution from mainlander street performers blasting loud music.  After 10 years, with thousands of complains to the government, nothing was done.  On 7 July 2019, 10,000 residents organize their own protest to remove the street performers.  Only then government scrap the zones for street performers completely.   

 

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/07/11/tuen-mun-park-scraps-performance-zones-following-mass-protest-dancing-aunties/

 

 

Other Conflicts Between Hong Kong Citizens and Mainland Tourists

For a more detailed report, please see:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2452315117306136

 

 

FUTURE PLANS FOR HONG KONG:  Greater Bay Area
President Xi Jinping’s ambition to build innovation and finance powerhouse to rival Silicon Valley and Tokyo Bay Area.  Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen and Guangzhou named as four key cities of the bay area and core engines for regional development.  The blueprint of the Greater Bay Area Plan specified closer integration between mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.  The key development areas are:


     - Developing an international innovation and technology hub
     - Expediting infrastructural connectivity
     - Building a globally competitive modern industrial system
     - Ecological conservation
     - Developing a quality living circle for living, working and travelling
     - Strengthening cooperation and jointly participating in the Belt and Road Initiative
     - Jointly developing Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao cooperation platforms

 

However, HK Chief Executive [Carrie Lam] appears to only show loyalty to the central Chinese government.  It is doubtful if she really will represent Hong Kong interests in this initiative.   It is feared that Greater Bay Area plan was developing mainland cities at the expense of Hong Kong, and may cause capital flight and brain drain locally.    

 

The policy document also did not mention any safeguards for the city’s institutions, such as its legal system.

 

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2186569/chinas-state-council-reveals-details-greater-bay-area-plan
https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/02/19/mixed-reactions-hong-kong-beijing-sets-strategic-integration-plan-southern-china-bay-area/
 

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