Fifteen years ago today was the apex of Hong Kong’s time as the center of the universe. My novel Hong Kong On Air recalls that incredible time.
Fifteen years later, you can debate whether China has become the center of the universe or whether Hong Kong is better or worse now. What’s certain is that Hong Kong has become far more dependent on China. The Asian economic crash of 1997 that immediately followed the handover – but had its causes elsewhere – and the 2003 SARS epidemic combined to turn the tables on the relationship between Hong Kong and China. It may have been a coincidence brought about by events, or it may be the product a calculated strategy by Beijing, but today Hong Kong needs China far more than China needs Hong Kong.
CY Leung takes the helm today as Hong Kong Chief Executive as the unelected head of the territory, chosen by a handful of handpicked Beijing loyalists. Beijing has promised that five years from today the chief executive being sworn in will be chosen in a free, democratic election by all the people of Hong Kong. If Hong Kong and China hope to enjoy a new version of the golden times Hong Kong On Air describes, that promise must be kept. Everyone who loves Hong Kong and everyone who loves freedom should join hands to convince Beijing to keep its word.
Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com.