Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Monday, Feb 06, 2023

Don’t let old mainland frictions haunt Hong Kong’s new normal

Don’t let old mainland frictions haunt Hong Kong’s new normal

Unhappiness about painkillers being sent to the mainland amid a local shortage and mainlanders looking for vaccines in Hong Kong risk raising cross-border distrust. The government must defuse these tensions quickly.

New beginnings are in order and worth celebrating for 2023. I hate to break it to all of us, but there’s much to do and a lot of hardship to overcome before we can usher in the new normal.

We know this because the last three years have given us anything but what we’ve planned. After a thousand days of having to cancel school, celebrations and flights, we’ve surely learned to live with uncertainty and tempered expectations. As soon as we settle into a new routine, changes are abruptly thrown at us. This is how Hong Kong will be opening up.

As residents fly out of the city for long-awaited holidays, they are met by a world uncertain over whether visitors from Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China are to be welcomed. Some countries have singled us out with travel restrictions. Not everyone is welcoming. Let this be the sobering wake-up call as we open up.

And the sooner we get over the euphoric optimism that comes with celebrating the new year, the hangovers from bubblies, the lifting of pandemic restrictions, and the opening of borders, especially with the mainland, the better. Inertia is a bitch.

Passengers go through immigration at the international airport in Hong Kong on December 28. In 2021 Hong Kong recorded its biggest population outflow in 30 years with a loss of 55,300 people.

We have been pressing for all these for months, and we know it will be increasingly difficult for our economy to bounce back with every day that we are shut out from the motherland and isolated from the rest of the world.

The government’s latest numbers had this city recording an export plunge of 24.1 per cent year on year in November, and that’s after a 10.4 per cent contraction in October. It is the worst monthly performance since May 1954.

We have also recorded our biggest population outflow in 30 years for 2021 with a loss of 55,300 people, doubling the already worrying number of 27,000 people from a year before. Our median age has risen to 46.3, and birth rates continue to drop. We can’t afford to lose any more time, people or opportunities.

Our trek back to normalcy will be our biggest challenge yet and it’s going to take all the resilience we can muster.

But as we are on the cusp of returning to normalcy, preparing to propel and getting what we’ve been demanding all along, we’re back at hoarding painkillers and other medications and supplies again, which is anything but normal. Some Hong Kong residents have been getting the much-needed supplies for their relatives and friends on the mainland.

The familiar news of scarcity across the border takes us back to a decade ago, when a shortage of baby milk formula in Hong Kong led to government action to stop parallel traders from taking supplies to resell across the border in 2013. With the benefit of hindsight, we must not go down the same route of exacerbating cross-border tensions and animosity, which gave rise to the political turmoils that began in 2014.

What remains real are the day-to-day frictions that have fed cross-border distrust and, a decade ago, birthed the nativism that grew into localism, and then what then-chief executive Leung Chun-ying called “the gradual growth of pro-independence thoughts” that ended up being snuffed out by the central government.

We have heard about travellers planning to cross our borders for our vaccines. The government has had to answer questions on whether our public health system can handle the potential influx of infected individuals seeking medical attention and supplies. It is far easier to slip back into the old days than to fight inertia.

If history is any guide, we know it is the everyday frustrations that manifest into hostile behaviour towards, and confrontations with, the mainland that we must avoid like the plague. The government must strike a very delicate balance in opening up Hong Kong, be at least three steps ahead, know exactly what is happening on the ground and take charge in disseminating information and communicating with the public.

Hong Kong cannot afford to be distracted by these emotive and combustible conflict flash points that would only hold us back and keep us from creating our new normal. Our new normal cannot be haunted by the past, yet the government has no time to lose in pushing on with addressing old problems in leading us, on our treacherous road, to recovery.

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
Hong Kong airlines taking bold action after the years of pandemic lockdown and travel restrictions, to make Hong Kong great again
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
Chinese search giant Baidu to launch ChatGPT like AI chatbot.
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
China is opening up for foreign investors.
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
China relaxes 'red lines' on property sector borrowing in policy pivot
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Japan prosecutors indict man for ex-PM Shinzo Abe murder
Vietnam removes two deputy PMs amid anti-corruption campaign
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
China’s recovery could add 1% to Australia’s GDP: JPMorgan 
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
China vows to strengthen financial support for enterprises: official
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
2 Billion People To Travel In China's "Great Migration" Over Next 40 Days
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
Flight constraints expected to weigh on China travel rebound
Billionaire Jack Ma relinquishes control of Ant Group
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
Teslas now over 40% cheaper in China than US
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
China seeks course correction in US ties but will fight ‘all forms of hegemony’, top diplomat Wang Yi says
China will boost spending in 2023
African traders welcome end of China’s Covid travel curbs
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
Preparations begin for Spring Festival travel rush