Two years before the mass protests that now paralyze Hong Kong, Michael Paterniti from National Geographic has already written out a lengthy article that explains how Hong Kong’s future – and also credentials – is being put at stake with encroaching control by Beijing. That is increasingly evident with the recent decision by Chinese government’s National People’s Congress (NPC) to restrict democratic reforms in one of the world’s most important financial and business hubs.
Entering day 5, Occupy Central movement is becoming increasingly larger than ever.
Read the full article in National Geographic, published in June 2012.
“If you want to see capitalism in action, go to Hong Kong,” economist Milton Friedman is credited with saying. Yet to idealize the city today as a free market paradise, thriving in its 15th year after the British handover to China, is to sorely oversimplify, if not misconstrue, the darkening forces at work here. It’s to miss the tensions and tectonic shifts beneath the glitzy financial center that Hong Kong shows to the world. In the city underneath, one finds asylum seekers and prostitutes; gangsters with their incongruent bouffants; thousands of Indonesian housemaids who flock to Victoria Park on their precious Sundays off; and those barely scratching out an existence, people crammed into partitioned apartment blocks of “cage houses” the size of refrigerator boxes. While Hong Kong’s per capita gross domestic product ranks tenth in the world, its Gini coefficient, an index that measures the gap between rich and poor, is also among the highest.
Hong Kongers say their city reinvents itself every few years, citing the ever morphing skyline as one visible example. “We feel all of these great changes, but we don’t know how to name them,” says Patrick Mok, the coordinator for the Hong Kong Memory Project, a $6.4 million effort to address Hong Kong’s identity problem by creating an interactive website of old objects and photographs. “The pace of the city is too fast for memory.”
Yes, Hong Kong is changing again, but into what and molded by whom?