Hong Kong - Quick Thoughts

jlai

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Last month, I made a quick stop to Hong Kong to see friends and relatives, but more importantly, to see how the city was faring. At first glance, Hong Kong hardly changed. The one thing I noticed was the disappearance of trash cans, in certain parts of the city. Trash cans, once a symbol of prosperity (and waste), is now an object that protestors can set ablaze. You do not see them in Tsim Sha Tsui, or Causeway Bay, where protestors hang out.
The other noticeable thing was how early some shops were closing. News reported that citizens are now keeping track of which businesses are on the side of yellow (anti-government) and which are on the side of blue (anti-yellow). Shops and restaurants are now closing early, especially if they consider themselves an attraction to “anti-yellow” protests, rightly or wrongly.
I have acquaintances at HK Polytechnic University, so I tried to visit the vicinity of the campus to see if I could tell how the university was faring. The police blockade went around HK Polytechnic about two blocks before one could reach the main building.
You can still see the torn up pavement nearby, as a result of the conflict.
By the following Wednesday, and when protestors were largely gone, it was patched up – progress.
There were hardly any protestors remaining at HK Polytechnic by late November, so the blockade receded to just around the campus and the surrounding streets and bridges. Over the bridge, you could still glimpse at small bits of chaos that became HK Poly in November.
Ambulances and police cars were waiting for any sudden turn of events, in case any protesters were still inside. Groups of police and firemen were entering the campus to look for safety hazards. According to news stories, over 3,000 petrol bombs, or remnants of them, were found.
As you came down the bridge to the Hung Hom bus stops near the cross harbor tunnel, I saw umbrellas piled up on the bridge facing the streets, and facing me – reminders of how much tear gas was sprayed on the protestors. News reported that 10,000 volleys of tear gas were used in protests within the last few months.
Slogans were still visible on walls and pavements – most likely the last to disappear, at least for a while.
 
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jlai

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I have photos, but would need a blog or something to post them. Not sure what the easiest way to post them are?
 

manhn

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Thank you for the personal report, jlai. Very much appreciated! Are the Dai Pai Dongs closing too?
 

Louis

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The other noticeable thing was how early some shops were closing. News reported that citizens are now keeping track of which businesses are on the side of yellow (government) and which are on the side of blue (protesters). Shops and restaurants are now closing early, especially if they consider themselves an attraction to “anti-yellow” protests, rightly or wrongly.
Retail sales are way, way down - especially on discretionary items. If the situation doesn’t stabilize soon, the impact on the economy is going to be grim.
 

jlai

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Retail sales are way, way down - especially on discretionary items. If the situation doesn’t stabilize soon, the impact on the economy is going to be grim.
It is already. Concerts and events are getting cancelled. Eason Chan's concert was getting cancelled this month because of the recent disruption in transportation. There were rumors that big finance firms might look for another office in another city.

When I left, the Hung Hom Cross Harbor Tunnel just reopened after the latest round of equipment repairs due to the conflict. More than 1 MTR stations had to close and when I left, the university station was still not reopened. MTR (subway) took a big hit as it was seen as pro-government.
 

Buzz

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Thanks for all your information and photographs. I hope the end result of all this pain and sacrifice is that China loosen it’s grip.

ETA:
The link doesn’t work for me.
 

jlai

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By the way when I was in HK, I got asked about the media coverage in the US as to whether it was balanced coverage. I answered I have seen brutality on both sides -- from the police and a sect of angry protestors that turned violent. The destruction of HK Poly was a sad sight, as were the damages of the transportation facilities. Those who fought against the police on the campus were not necessarily HK Poly students and they surely caused significant financial damages for the university; on the other hand, the police in HK aren't subject to the same scrutiny as those in the states. I doubt any has body cams on them and some did go over the line, at least by US standards.

I am hoping that the district elections may bring some calm and peace slowly and gradually.

For a long time, HK prospered on the basis of this business, no-nonsense approach to problems.Either way, HK that I knew will never come back. eta: But then I have to remember, HK was successful because it focused on business, not politics. Such a mindset can't last forever, as it was caused by a political anomaly (ie being a colony). I think HK is beginning to learn how to deal with political expression and has some ways to go.
 
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