After six weeks, I am leaving Hong Kong as planned. Since five months the city is in the grip of mass ignorance, incompetence and is terrorised by a small number of violent rioters. Daily life is ruled by avoiding disruptions, adjusting to event cancellations and rescheduling. On the campus of The University of Hong Kong, students go on their nightly spray of "F-words" with no content, but just brainless anger. Since a student of HKUST suffered a fatal brain injury by falling down a parking deck, there is beside the mourning, another round of black-dressed mob rampaging streets, vandalising shops and more and more also performing racist violence against mainland Chinese citizens. Even the tragical death of the student is misused for blaming the police. But if anyone is to blame for this accident, then it is those who fuel these rampages by agitation and misinformation; domestically and from abroad. Overall, many people have probably forgotten why they went to the streets in the first place. It's a circus.
Being struck by significant economic losses, soon people will lose their jobs in large numbers. Frustrations will mount, living conditions will deteriorate, and the brain drain is already setting in. People who speak out reasonably are silenced. Democratic candidates for the local council elections are threatened or even attacked, just by those people who claim they want more democracy. There are all kinds of fractions now, of which the ridiculous one also asks Donald Trump to send troops. People who can do so leave. Companies rethink their Hong Kong exposure and start pulling out, partly because of uncertainty coming from the recent amendment of the US 1992 Hong Kong act. Should the decline continue, some economists believe the pegging of the Hong Kong Dollar against the US Dollar may not sustain. Others think a potential capital outflow could be curbed by rising interest rates. This would have devastating effects on the economy again and let the housing crisis spiral down further. Last but not least, Hong Kong is turning for China from being an asset to a liability. Obviously, there will be soon alternatives to the functions Hong Kong has for China. And as soon as these become available, Hong Kong may sink like a stone in a pool of ignorance, arrogance and self-pity.
During my stay, I had two escapes to Malaysia from Hong Kong. One to Kotakina Balu (for a rest), the other one to Kuala Lumpur. Both I enjoyed, and especially Kuala Lumpur seems a viable alternative to Hong Kong for businesses which operate in South East Asia. The other, even more, an obvious one, is Singapore. I still hear often that Hong Kong would be a "gateway to China". Perhaps it makes sense to adjust this claim to the realities of the 21st century. I lived and worked for many years since 2003 in Shanghai and Beijing. If you want to go to China, go to China. And if Hong Kong does not see itself as a part of that, then that's Hong Kong's problem.
I regret, I could not meet even some of my best friends in Hong Kong this time. And many planned glasses of something cheerful stayed untouchched. But I hope we will have the chance to catch up again soon, may it be in the fallen city or anywhere else on the planet. Keep well. I will be back.