Hong Kong Was Once Passionate About China. Now, It’s Indifferent or Contemptuous. – The New York Times

Even Communist Party-controlled newspapers in the city that were run largely by Hong Kongers during British rule are now staffed at their senior levels by mainlanders who view Hong Kong through a prism fixed decades ago by China’s late paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping. He regarded the city as a greedy, self-indulgent place that had no real interest in politics and so could easily reabsorbed into “the motherland.” In Hong Kong after 1997, Mr. Deng promised, “horses will still run, stocks will still sizzle and dancers will still dance.”

That promise has largely been kept so far. But it has come in tandem with a steady diminishment of the city as a place engaged in shaping China’s future.

This reduced role, said Eddie Chu, an elected member of Hong Kong’s Legislature and an early champion of the city’s localist movement, has fed a widespread sense of despondent detachment from the rest of China.

“As a city confronting an empire, it seems an obvious expectation that we are doomed,” he said.

For a foreigner, Hong Kong still feels unquestionably Chinese, its streets flashing with neon Chinese characters, its graveyards filled with tombstones recording ancestral homes in faraway provinces, its cacophonous restaurants offering endless varieties of Chinese cuisine. But for many Hong Kongers these are no more signs of the place being part of Communist-ruled China than the magnificent collections of Chinese art in Taiwan are proof that the island belongs to Beijing.

Mr. Lee, the editor, said it pained him to see this but added that the Communist Party had only itself to blame. He said it has treated critics in Hong Kong who considered themselves Chinese patriots as enemies and repeatedly frustrated hopes in the former colony that the system in China might become less repressive.

“Loving China,” he said, became synonymous with “loving the party,” something he and most people in Hong Kong don’t want to do. “I used to be a patriot. But of course I am not a patriot now.”


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