We have one country, two systems. As quoted many times by both sides, we are like well water 井水 and river water 河水which should not meet 不犯 nor cross; at least within the 50 years that follow 1997.
It is alright for us not meeting; but in real life we do meet. It may still be alright even if we do meet, if not for the fact that we have different systems and different values.
We meet each other as tourists, we meet each other in the maternity hospital wards and the train carriages, we meet over property deals, we shall meet each other when we are free to drive in each others’ cities, we meet each other when calling each other “dogs” and “locusts” in the media, we almost meet each other at the D &G store, we meet each other over the High Speed Rail and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, we also meet each other when we are part of the State’s 12-5 Plan.
Where should we meet? If we are to meet at the mid-point, then HK should move closer to Mainland and vice versa. If we are to meet at the more advanced level, then HK should move further away while Mainland catch up. It is where we meet and how we meet that creates friction.
This city is among one the world’s freest societies. We enjoy democracy, the rule of law and not much corruption (with the possible rare exception of the CE?). The mainland may not have the same systems or values. Where should we meet ? It appears that both sides should give a lot more consideration as to where and how we interface.
15 years after 1997, HK still appears to have an identity problem. Who are we? What do we want to be? Will we be allowed to be what we want to be? Where shall we go from here? Are we a model for mainland, or a threat? Are we changing mainland, or mainland changing us? Should we become more like mainland or more international?
Hong Kong’s future is obviously tied to the mainland. We are like a couple with conflicting emotions—admiration and resentment, loyalty and mistrust, love and fear for each other. The two lost souls are trying to learn from, depend on, influence and to an extent intimidate each other. Each needs the other to prosper, yet each also sees the other as potentially harmful?
Both of us are experimenting. HK is experimenting with political change. Its citizens are experimenting with becoming more vocal, fighting for more rights. Its economy is trying to seek out its future. Its demographics are in a stake of flux.
15 years after 1997, we are at a turning point. HK is not just looking for fortune; we are looking for a host of many things. A new CE will be elected soon and the future five years would be in his (good?)hands.
The mainland is also at a turning point. There will be a succession in leadership, it will have to boost domestic consumption to sustain long-term economic growth instead of relying on export. They will have to make changes in their political and social systems in order to move forward.
Of course, this city matters the mainland. It matters because it is a unique experiment that will probably succeed but could possibly fail: the creation of a free, international city and financial hub within China. There will be more meeting points and turning points but I am sure that the two sides will finally meet up in 2047.