Date
14 November 2019
The young people who took part in the recent Hong Kong protests were directing their anger mostly at the local government and police, rather than Beijing. Photo: Bloomberg
The young people who took part in the recent Hong Kong protests were directing their anger mostly at the local government and police, rather than Beijing. Photo: Bloomberg

Hong Kong youth’s mixed feelings toward mainland China

Undeniably, China’s consumption culture and pop culture are slowly rippling into Hong Kong along with a rising China.

Nowadays, Hong Kong youngsters often visit Shenzhen across the border on weekends and consider it a chic place to hang out.

Unlike Hongkongers born in 1970s or 1980s, who have witnessed the poor China and what happened on June 4, 1989, youngsters born after 1995 or in this century don’t have too much bias against the mainland.

With the popularity of leading Chinese apps such as WeChat, Taobao, Alipay and Douyin, and Shenzhen hot spots like Coco Park and Wanxian Tiandi, Hong Kong youth may feel China becoming culturally closer.

But that does not mean they would accept all mainland practices and systems.

The massive protests against the extradition bill, in which youngsters played a key part, demonstrate their distrust in mainland’s legal system.

To put it simply, they are happy to share China’s economic boom and pop culture. But they can’t accept China’s human rights record, free speech restrictions and problematic rule of law.

That said, we should not jump to any conclusion that local youth will advocate Hong Kong independence or that they are against Beijing.

In fact, nothing like that has been suggested during the recent rallies. Protesters of the extradition bill were mainly targeting the Hong Kong government and police.

Despite the massive protests, not all is lost. The government should mend fences and launch an independent inquiry into the police’s use of force on protesters, among other initiatives. Handled properly, this could be a good opportunity to win over the hearts of the youth.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 24

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RC 

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist