How does it make you feel when you hear the name «Chinese» on the street? Despite Hong Kongers’ pride in being Chinese, you might find it difficult to shake the stereotype. People in Hong Kong may be more open-minded than they think and may even welcome a change in attitude. But is this possible? Let’s find out. Here are some thoughts on Hong Kong’s «Lion Rock Spirit» and how it differs from mainland China.
Hong Kong’s «Lion Rock Spirit»
During the early 2000s, business and government leaders appealed to Hong Kong’s Lion Rock spirit to pull the city out of hard times. These leaders appropriated the vision of working-class Hong Kong, but their rhetoric rang hollow as social mobility stagnated and property prices rocketed upward. Meanwhile, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. Today, most Hong Kongers fall into a «sandwich» class, between those who qualify for public assistance and those who make fortunes.
While the Lion Rock Spirit concept has evolved since the 1970s, its message remains the same. Hong Kong’s Lion Rock Spirit song has become part of the collective consciousness, and the government has even cited the lyrics in the Budget Address. Dr. Maggie Leung, a lecturer in Hong Kong studies, discusses the evolution of this idea. Among the many issues that the Lion Rock Spirit has posed is the changing face of Hong Kong society and the increasing gap between rich and poor.
The film below the Lion Rock features a recurring theme song that references the Lion Rock spirit and depicts the struggle of Hong Kong residents in the early 1970s. The film also shows the resilience of Hong Kong people despite poverty and adversity. In addition to focusing on social issues, the film’s diverse cast depicts the city’s can-do spirit. And as such, the film was a huge success.
«Lion Rock Spirit» has become a symbol of Hong Kong’s changing identity. It has been referenced at countless official events and festive celebrations. Even the Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Zhu Rongji, cited the song in his speech. The song is now a politically charged space, as people have begun draping a yellow banner supporting full democracy.
Its differences from mainland China
One of the significant differences between the press in Hong Kong and mainland China is their reporting style. Hong Kong papers generally have shorter stories and often use photos. They also tend to pay more attention to political dissent and feature stories that may not have a national or global significance. However, these differences do not negate that the two news outlets are part of the same state, and their titles are also different. For instance, in mainland China, national stories are more often featured on the front page of a newspaper, while in Hong Kong, local accounts are more likely to be carried in specific sections.
Another critical difference between mainland China and Hong Kong is the tax system. Hong Kong has a relatively flat corporate tax rate of 16.5%, while mainland China charges up to 50% in taxes on imported goods. The difference in taxation and trade regulations makes importing goods to mainland China complex. Another notable difference between mainland China and Hong Kong is the legal system. Mainland Chinese stock markets are more restrictive, requiring more significant financial resources. This means that Hong Kong has more overseas investors than mainland Chinese companies, making the stock market more accessible for foreign investors.
Because of Hong Kong’s close ties to the CCP and its authoritarian regime, the system in the city is a little different than on the mainland. Protests are not repressed, and civil society has a more excellent voice. Although Hong Kong has a limited democracy, it still has a free press. Some media outlets in Hong Kong are controlled by pro-Beijing votes, which have sparked controversy by censoring negative stories about China’s central government.
Its capitalist system
The city’s capitalist system has always been the envy of the world, but the resemblance to China is not as strong as it once was. Beijing is increasingly frustrated with the city and its oligarchs, which is not surprising given the region’s capitalist system. In Hong Kong, the government is trying to promote a new vision of capitalism with characteristics of the city’s local culture.
Beijing has recently announced that it will no longer provide special treatment to Hong Kong, which the United States had guaranteed through the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act. This new approach comes when Beijing is trying to change the old policy of «one country, two systems» to a «one country, one system.» China is attempting to regain the status of Hong Kong as a global financial hub, but without freedom, it is unlikely to maintain its international level as a free nation.
In addition to the economic issues, Hong Kong residents are worried about high housing costs and income inequality. Beijing denies it is responsible for making Hong Kong residents unhappy, but Marx taught the Chinese government that all politics stem from economic forces. This is reflected in the government favoring foreign saboteurs and Hong Kong-Chinese oligarchs. While the government is trying to keep the mood light in Hong Kong, it has failed to make a lasting change.
Protests erupted in the summer of 2019 against Beijing-endorsed legislation allowing extradition to mainland China. Protesters believed that Beijing was eroding Hong Kong’s freedom. Meanwhile, reports of police brutality fueled the protests. Beijing eventually backed down the new law and began examining the causes of the protests. Nevertheless, protests continued throughout the summer until the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020.
The future of a genuinely elected government in Hong Kong is still in the air. While the Chinese government has made it clear it will not accept Legco members as part of its new legislature; a more liberal candidate won the most votes in recent elections. However, once the 1997 elections are over, Hong Kong will revert to its previous arrangement of a fully appointed legislature. This will make it harder for Chinese-speaking Hong Kongers to get elected.
The fate of Hong Kong is now in the hands of international politics. The chief villains in this story are the power-hungry octogenarians in Beijing, who blindly defend a failed revolution. But Hong Kong’s future is also at risk from kowtowing diplomats in Britain’s Whitehall, the cravenness of most of its politicians, and the indifference of world leaders.
The Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 severely politicized the Hong Kong people. The event shook the trust of the Hong Kong people in Beijing and increased pressure on the government to adopt democratic reform and protect human rights and civil liberties. As a result, prodemocracy activists were jailed and charged with using a loudspeaker without permission. Hong Kong’s first political party was born in the process — the liberal United Democrats of Hong Kong.
The Basic Law also guarantees Hong Kong’s separate identity under the ‘one country, two systems’ formula. It is therefore crucial for Hong Kong to maintain its institutions. If these institutions were to be destroyed, it would be difficult for the Chinese government to continue to keep them. This is a complicated question that must be answered before Hong Kong can truly move forward. However, Hong Kong will never give up its autonomy regarding identity and cultural heritage.
The Chinese rulers are still trembling, especially after the recent riots in Tiananmen Square. The British colony is the apparent center of subversion. Beijing has also demanded consultation on significant decisions in Hong Kong, including plans for a $16.3 billion airport and port. In addition, Hong Kong Chinese manufacturers have been enjoying burgeoning ties with mainland China. But this open-door policy has consequences.
In 1990, Hong Kong lost around 62,000 people. Today, the figure is higher. The reason? The city was overcrowded. People who needed to work or study on the mainland fled. The government had two years to prepare for the outbreak but had few plans. The hospitals were overwhelmed. The elderly and able-bodied are among those who died. But the government downplayed the importance of the figures.
The Chinese authorities blame the virus on COVID-19 restrictions, including a long quarantine requirement. This was meant to align the city with Beijing’s zero-COVID policy. The rules also banned flights and gatherings from certain countries. This has resulted in lower growth forecasts and an exodus of brains. But the virus doesn’t just affect the Chinese — it affects the entire world.
While China has recently expanded under an authoritarian regime, Hong Kong has been an independent country for centuries. The city supplies services for the transformation of the mainland. While China is the largest economy in the world, Hong Kong’s integration into the mainland’s economy is still a significant part of its success. But despite the pressure and apathy, the Chinese authorities are not attempting to take over Hong Kong.