Hong Kong had entered ten consecutive weeks of protest that paralyzed the city, with escalating velocity and scales even after the Hong Kong government made concessions. Last month, Hong Kong's executive committee shelved the extradition bill, and Carrie Lam apologized for introducing it, which is already a humiliation defeat for China. But protesters continued to march forward, refusing to accept the government's compromise. Their growing demands seem to test Beijing's patience and to push the party faithful to their limits. In collaborating with Beijing's propaganda operation to discredit and stigmatize the protesters, anti-Hong Kong essays are floating around the internet and going viral on Chinese social media.
"Hong Kong -- my child: What does Mainland owe you?" has resonated well among mainland Chinese – many being the members of the elite class. In a strident tone, the article argues that China has offered Hong Kong with unique opportunities for growth, listing off a score of advantages it has enjoyed over other cities. As some inner cities struggle with an inadequate supply of energy, food, and resources, China has provided Hong Kong with freshwater and quality meat and fruit products. It has received the most favorable tax treatment other cities wouldn't dream. Hong Kong is a spoiled child who isn't grateful for his mother's genuine love, and who is slow in returning this favor, it says.
If jealousy played a part in mainland Chinese resentment, Hong Kongner's have all the reasons to envy its mainland counterparts. Economic reality paints a dark picture of the former British colony returning to Chinese sovereignty. Hong Kong's economy and wealth has shrunk relative to China. Over the past three decades, China has experienced a stunningly high economic growth, earning the bragging right of the second-largest economy in the world. At the same time, Hong Kong's economic growth has stalled, declining from one-fifth of China's in 1997 to barely one-thirtieth in 2018. Once the wealthiest city in China, Hong Kong now has a GDP well below of Beijing and Shanghai.
Since entered WTO, China has increasingly less reliant on Hong Kong as its financial gateway to the world. Today, the size of China's financial market has already eclipsed that of Hong Kong. It has four of the largest banks of the world and the largest capitalization of the stock market across the globe -- doubling that of Hong Kong. Shanghai, rising to the top five of the international financial center, is threatening Hong Kong's position as the world's largest trading ports. It is also poised to take away Hong Kong's competitive edge as the only offshore RMB hub. According to the South China Morning Post, elite professionals from the mainland have increasingly taken over executive positions in Hong Kong's banking and legal service industry exclusively reserved in the past for Hong Kong's brightest and best.
Meanwhile, the gap of household income between China and Hong Kong is rapidly narrowing, with Hong Kong's per capita income dropping from 35 times of Mainland China in 1997 to five times in 2018. While China has seen a dramatic rise in living standard, Hong Kong's quality of life index drops to 70th globally, far behind its rival Singapore. Poverty rate hit a record high in Hong Kong in 2018, with 1.37 million people living below the poverty line, 25000 more than 2017.
Hong Kong does rely on Mainland China for its economic wellbeing and food and water supply. However, to say Hong Kong is the best-loved child, enjoying the most favorable treatment from the motherland is a distortion of facts. Hong Kong's stalled economy, in sharp contrast of the Mainland's remarkable growth, proves otherwise. Undoubtedly, dissatisfaction over this dark reality plays a significant role in the current protest.
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