In a country in which it is customary to prioritise the trivial and ignore the offshore narrative, Malta would do well to dissect the source of Hong Kong’s protests.
Baptised (and well branded) as the ‘Umbrella Revolution’, the 2014 events are spurred on by young pro-democracy protesters (mostly students and business professionals) who are increasingly uneasy about China’s meddling with the power system in Hong Kong.
Beijing’s latest ruling has ensured that nominees running for the post of Chief Executive (uncanny title for PrimeMinister) must be first vetted by a committee chosen – naturally – due to its pro-Beijing views. This has raised concern about the notion of vote representation which is a central principle in any democracy.
The present generation in Hong Kong is the product of unprecedented economic activity under British rule and thus typically well-educated and proudly liberal. The disdain for mainland China is a consequence of the country’s growth which itself is a perfect antithesis to what China is witnessing: an increasingly authoritarian rule.
In the years following Britain’s handover, Chinese activity in Hong Kong has been mounting with a large amount of Chinese entrepreneurs setting up activity in all sectors of Hong Kong. This has driven up the cost of living and real estate and Chinese incomers have thus earned the unfortunate nickname of ‘locusts’. The generational divide between a young, bright and vocal group of protesters and a rigid Tiananmen-hardened Beijing is an additional obstacle in the course of these events widening the gap between the two factions.
Hong Kong struggles with Chinese presence and the Umbrella Revolution is creating a new, relentless, pro-democracy community which is not comfortable with Chinese investment or intrusion.
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