I used to travel to Hong Kong in the 1980s when I was a student in China and still recall those memorable days. Hong Kong was one of the most prosperous places in this part of the world. Being a free port, Hong Kong was the hub of commercial activities, transit trade was a routine matter. For the light industry, especially the electronic industry, Hong Kong was the ideal place, as it requires a little space for setting up an industry. The Small and Medium-sized industry was flourishing, while import and export business was a major contributor to the economy.
People of Hong Kong were very friendly, polite and submissive. Around 100 years of British rule has tamed them well and they seem humble and hardworking. Hong Kong was ruled by Governor appointed by Queen – British Empire and there was no concept of democracy or general elections. People have accepted generation after generation that they do not need democracy or voting for electing the rulers. It seems it was penetrated in their genes that they have to be ruled by a governor appointed by Queen. They were very much peace-loving and always positive. They always focus on their job, business and exploring how to create wealth. They were not aware of politics and were not talking anything else than business only. Money making was their best hobby and hard work was their moto. They were well honest in usual dealings and fair in business.
Due to limitations of area, they were highly dense populated places in the whole of Asia, so they were very much accommodative and tolerant of society. They were enjoying western culture but keeping Asian tradition too. Over-all it was a moderate, well-cultured society. My visit to Hong Kong was always very comfortable and I did enjoy each one of my visits in the 1980s.
China took over sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1999, which ended the British rule of one century in Hong Kong. This was China’s mega achievement and could be considered as a big achievement of the century, where China, without any armed struggle, only through peaceful negotiation gained Sovereignty of Hong Kong. No single bullet was fired, no single life was lost, and no one was injured at all. It was a very smooth and peaceful transfer of power.
This credit goes to the Chinese leadership of the time, especially the Great Leader Deng Xiao Ping, who introduced the concept of “One Country with Two Systems”. China sticks to its promise and kept the Hong Kong economy and all other promises made at the time of the smooth transfer of Hong Kong into Chinese command.
I have been to Hong Kong after the Chinese took over the control of Hong Kong during my diplomatic assignment in China. I noticed the prosperity was intact, law and order were very well managed, business activities were in a routine matter. It seemed that the people were quite satisfied with the Chinese rule. Of course, I noticed higher-rise buildings and improved infrastructure, more cleanliness, etc. But over-all the society was calm as usual and satisfactory. I could not refer to any incident of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, disgruntle or rebellious thoughts. My last visit was in 2013 or 2014, but I could not see any abnormality in the society.
However, the current unrest in Hong Kong is beyond my understanding. It is possible that a small group of people in a society may not be satisfied with the rulers and protest for some time. Generally speaking, this phenomenon, we are facing in Pakistan frequently and we are used to it. There are always talks between the protesters and the government officials, after meeting the few demands from protesters, the government always disperse them and the issues are settled without any ill-feelings from either side. It never happened that all demands from the protesters are genuine and must be met.
In the case of Hong Kong, even the Chinese government has met their original demands, but the protestors are not cooled down, contrarily are asking for more demands. It is very easy for a government in any country to use force and disperse the protesters, and it has been happening in many parts of the world. But the Chinese government has observed constraints and patience and not using force. On the other hand, it is against the temperament of Hong Kong people to prolong such protests for so long. They are damaging the Hong Kong economy, routine life and disturbing the peace-loving residents.
How the protest is prolonged and how they are sustaining for such a long period of time. Does it create many questions in our minds: Any foreign hand? Any external power and support? Any mischievous agenda of geopolitics? Any ill-planning to contain China or curtail China? Any dirty tool to bargain on other issues to resist China’s rise? Any bad-motives to bleed China? And so on. Let the readers answer these questions.
I believe China has already surpassed that thresh hold, where any country can coerce China. Such exercise may become futile and ineffective. China possesses the capacity to handle its domestic issues conveniently.