By Majid Gafoor
Back in 1842 when it was first ceded to the British, Hong Kong was just a “barren rock” occupied by fishermen and a cove for pirates to operate from.
However, the beautiful Victoria Harbour surrounded by a protective necklace of high mountains turned it from a sleepy port into one of the busiest business hubs in the world. With that, Hong Kong made its mark, not only in Asia, but all around the world.
The British administration provided the game plan and the hardworking citizens built the city from the ground up. The education opportunities grew a population with skills to provide the management infrastructure that would soon attract some of the largest corporations from around the world to set up shop in Hong Kong.
The hands off style of the government administration coupled with the low taxes spawned a profileration of clever entrepreneurs who made use of every opportunity to turn an idea into dollars – and they succeeded. So much so that they even overshadowed their giant neighbor, China.
Yes, Hong Kong was a shining jewel, a miracle of free thinking enterprises supported by a benevolent administration.
Then Deng Xiaoping in 1978 made his famous “black cat, white cat speech” and all of a sudden, China itself, was open for business. If Hong Kong had achieved success at jet speed, China flashed past at light speed. From a “closed society” abhorring Western ideas, China took a new path of “Western ideas with a Chinese flavor”. It became a world power in a very short time.
With the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, it should have provided a synergy that would have benefitted both parties and for a while it did.
However, the recent agitation by the people in Hong Kong has undone some of the goodwill, prosperity and success that are well-earned badges of Hong Kong.
Nevertheless, Hong Kong is resilient. It has survived various political and economical upheavals from the Cultural Revolution in 1967 to the financial crisis in 2008 (Lehman Brothers debacle). The stock market and the financial standing remain firm.
There is no doubt that Hong Kong will soon return to its place in the sun and become a beacon of hope for all those who wish to make a good life for themselves through hard work.
It will rise again, like a Phoenix from the ashes.
Majid Gafoor is a former journalist from Hong Kong. He now lives in Canada.