22 September 2019
Ying Ying (inset) is said to have had a stressful pregnancy, resulting in a miscarriage. Some netizens were quick to draw parallels with Hong Kong's political situation. Photos: Reuters, Facebook
Ying Ying (inset) is said to have had a stressful pregnancy, resulting in a miscarriage. Some netizens were quick to draw parallels with Hong Kong's political situation. Photos: Reuters, Facebook

Is China killing Hong Kong in its womb?

It’s quite difficult to understand why the Hong Kong media played up the pregnancy and miscarriage of Ying Ying the giant panda.

Ocean Park, which provides a home for Ying Ying and her kind, announced the happy news of her pregnancy last Thursday, complete with a photo of the fetus expected to be born within a week.

But on Wednesday, park officials broke the sad news that Ying Ying had suffered a miscarriage.

They said they were investigating if it was a case of “resorption” after seeing that the fetus had been deformed.

For those not in the know, fetal resorption is a process by which fetal tissue is reabsorbed by the mother’s body when the fetus stops growing or dies.  

Internet users mostly did not care about the issue but they were intrigued.

Discussions were mostly about the strange phenomenon which they have rarely heard in a human miscarriage.

Those keen to extrapolate found a political connection.

If Hong Kong stops growing or “dies”, will it be reabsorbed by the mother country?

The analogy might be far-fetched until you think about it.

The symbolism is even more stark — the giant panda is China’s national symbol and Hong Kong is being born to the motherland.

Will Hong Kong’s political resorption result in miscarriage 32 years from now?

Who knows, but China has been frittering at the contours of Hong Kong’s political life since it reinterpreted “one country, two systems” and tightened its grip on its democratic development.

The latest political “deformity” was a statement by China’s top official in Hong Kong that Beijing’s handpicked chief executive in the special administrative region has superior constitutional status that transcends all branches of government.

There’s no doubt the giant panda is loved all over the world and the fact that it’s an endangered species only makes it rare and special.

That is not lost on Beijing which has crafted a big part of its international diplomacy around the lovely and friendly creature.

That is how “panda diplomacy” was born.

Beijing has offered four giant pandas to Hong Kong since the 1997 handover as a symbol of China-Hong Kong relationship.

Hong Kong people have generally welcomed the gesture and have been more than willing to overlook its political implications.

As symbols of friendship, the animals cannot be tethered to politics — until Ying Ying’s miscarriage.

Because now, Hongkongers are waking up to a grim reality that they could compare with Ying Ying’s pregnancy, said to have occurred under traumatic conditions (park officials said they are investigating).

That reality comes from Hong Kong being downgraded to the status of a constituent in the Guangdong economic development blueprint.

This, in turn, is part of a bigger plan to create a single economic zone that also includes Macau.

Beijing has never explained the reason for such mandatory integration of Hong Kong to the Pearl River delta economy, let alone its benefits or advantages.

Note that Hong Kong has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into two potential white elephants — the Guangdong-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed railway and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

Hong Kong people are quite adamant their government is using its reserves and taxpayers’ money to subsidize projects that serve Beijing’s political ends.

Apart from the physical integration with the mainland, Beijing is also stepping up efforts to remove the last colonial vestiges.

Those historic postboxes with the royal insignia are just some of them.

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EJ Insight writer