Whether you are aware of it or not, but the first two Mondays in May fall on public holidays; and yesterday we had Mother’s Day, Buddha’s Birthday, Red Cross Smile Day and the Chief Executive Election Day all blended in one. It must have been an auspicious day, certainly for John Lee who was returned by over 99% majority in an election with over 97% of the electors voting; and who has promised Hong Kong a new chapter. But, not unexpectedly, there are always people who would not let go any opportunity to knock and bash China left right and centre. The Election attracted immediate harsh and flippant comments from the EU none of the countries on which had any locus on Hong Kong or the internal affairs of an SAR of China.
But such is the nature of things these days; and one simply needs to take a view – a rather long-term view – on where one stands and take a position in relation to China and the geopolitics that envelop everyone and everything in between. I used to say in the years leading up to 1997 that Hong Kong being caught between China and UK with the rest of the world watching, anything that happened to Hong Kong would generate a global impact such that one shouldn’t just be thinking about the impact of any impending change to one single individual or family. I still hold a similar view, with some modification. I need to replace UK in the formula with USA, for since the Seventies UK has relegated herself to be a subordinate of the nation that was once her colony and was content to be a lapdog particularly now that she has left the EU. On the other hand, China has grown economically beyond recognition as USA tries hard to stop China making more friends on the one hand and to stop the Americans learning about the various gigantic leaps and bounds that China has achieved in almost every field. But as Chinese, we must listen to what our Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China would never seek to be World Number One in any field and that China would always be a developing nation and grow with our friends.
Wang Yi has stated unequivocally China’s position in relation to the conflict in Ukraine for a peaceful resolution and that China would not be drawn into any hot or cold world with the United States or any nation. It is important that those of us who declare that they are Chinese learn such sentiments and to acquire such wisdom carefully and diligently. The West is trying so hard to build up and expand NATO with the object of containing Russia and thereby China. It is as clear as day to me. But not everyone thinks along my way. I have this friend for example whom I caught up for our regular Saturday lunch after a four-month break. He said he was extremely worried over the situation of Ukraine and went on to worry over the positions of Taiwan and Hong Kong. There are always people like that; and nobody could do anything about that. As a start, nobody and no administration would legislate against stupidity.
Inevitably, the West have now placed Hong Kong in the same category as Taiwan and Xizang to create pressure points for annoying China, after the failed attempt which began in 2019 to destroy Hong Kong. I looked at some TV footages in those days recently. They were as sickening as they were threatening; and I am glad that the national security laws have since taken care of the riots and that law and order in the streets had been restored. But people were leaving, my friend sighed. I said, let them leave, the sooner the better. Hong Kong is never for the faint hearted.
Back to John Lee having been elected our next Chief Executive and to assume the office on 1 July 2022, there will always be the narrative that it was a selection rather than an election and that it marked the further decline of democracy and end of One Country Two Systems in Hong Kong. My take is simple, let’s wait and see what John Lee would deliver Hong Kong and how he does it in the next five years and beyond. I say we have already wasted too much time since 1997, 25 years to be exact. Hong Kong was such a spoiled kid and brat; and China had been too patient and lenient. What Hong Kong needs to do and do it quickly, as my friend Mike Rowse had written, is to get back on its feet, open up the border and get back the business. Businesses had never loved Hong Kong. They had come to set up regional headquarters because we were business friendly and because we had excellent location and unparalleled infrastructure together with the software. As long as we can recoup our losses and rebuild our position, they would come back. Our new leader John Lee had gone to study in Wah Yan, albeit in Kowloon, the school which had also provided an education for the well-known local democrat Martin Lee. John is also a Catholic, as is Martin. It follows that both would have learnt from the Jesuits the signature skill known as discernment, which can be loosely described as the gift to choose between the good and the better or best in any given situation. Let’s hope this Lee would do better than the other Lee.
In the meantime, Su and I had a caviar and champagne brunch to mark the occasion.