The Big Ideas

‘What the ‘Hong Kong Narrative’ gets wrong'

Fortune

Alan Smith, former CEO & chairman, Jardine Fleming, Hong Kong
‘What the ‘Hong Kong Narrative’ gets wrong'
‘What the ‘Hong Kong Narrative’ gets wrong'
No items found.

February 10, 2021
BIG IDEA | ‘For a significant cohort of the [“pro-democracy”] protesters, the more accurate label would be “anti-China activists.” The one thing that seems to unite them is not a love of democracy, but a hatred of China.'
BIG IDEA | ‘Deng Xiaoping said only two things were off-limits post-1997: promoting independence for Hong Kong, or using Hong Kong as a base to undermine the Central Government.'
'Was that too much to ask of Hong Kong?'
'For many of the anti-China activists it seems it was, and we must now all face the consequences.’

‘Hong Kong has been my home for 50 years—27 years under British rule and more than 23 as a part of China’s One Country/Two Systems government.’

‘What I call the Hong Kong Narrative, promoted by too many in the West as part of the larger ideological battle with China.’

  • ‘So often, media portrayals of Hong Kong paint a dystopian picture, unbalanced and at odds with reality.’
  • ‘Unfortunately, Hong Kong is collateral damage in a larger geopolitical struggle.’

‘In this particular Hong Kong Narrative, there is only one story—one in which brave young pro-democracy demonstrators have faced brutal attacks from Hong Kong police acting on China’s instruction.’

  • ‘The narrative also claims that Hong Kong’s new National Security Law has removed our basic freedoms and will lead again to the often predicted “end of Hong Kong.” ’

‘Each of these claims becomes far more complicated under closer inspection, however.’

‘For a significant cohort of the [“pro-democracy”] protesters, the more accurate label would be “anti-China activists.” ’

  • ‘The one thing that seems to unite them is not a love of democracy, but a hatred of China—evidenced in their firebombing of PRC-“owned” or China-supporting enterprises, their physical attacks on mainland Chinese tourists, their desecration of the Chinese flag, and the virulent anti-China slogans they have spray-painted in Hong Kong.’

‘Deng Xiaoping said only two things were off-limits post-1997: promoting independence for Hong Kong, or using Hong Kong as a base to undermine the Central Government.’

  • ‘Was that too much to ask of Hong Kong?’  
  • ‘For many of the anti-China activists it seems it was, and we must now all face the consequences.’

My Take

It seems there is always an old guard in the midst of freedom movements. There certainly was in the American Revolution.

Yet even understanding that this essay gives the sense of having been written between sips of a G&T on a veranda on the Peak as the author looks upon the masses so far below him.

The Big Ideas I have selected may be unfair. This essay makes a number of fair points.

But I couldn't get past the air of colonial privilege and the knowledge that the author, unlike the 'anti-China' activists, has a British passport and the means to move on as he pleases.