The Bauhinia Foundation, the think-tank that tells Hong Kong’s cliquey little establishment what it wants to hear, gets hip, groovy and funky and boogies on down to see what the word is on the street where the young people hang out, daddy-o. Youth still chasing ‘pail of gold’ is the Standard’s summary of the survey, giving the impression that the Sing Tao media group is dismayed to find kids are yet to grasp that the city of opportunity their parents grew up in is no more, and their role in the Big Lychee of tomorrow will be to sell burgers/cosmetics/apartments for minimum wage-plus-commission and like it.
The Foundation’s press release reveals that young (and youngish) Hongkongers’ hopes for the future are almost exactly what you would expect. If asked what percentage of them would want to own their own homes or have a better environment, most of us would say 57%, and, lo and behold – 57% it is! Equally un-staggering, most want better governance, education and work-life balance, and a majority would prefer to work for government or multinationals or go freelance than endure the above-mentioned career alternatives.
(Many of these opinions can be interpreted as criticism of our political structure and the overbearing influence of our property tycoons – the very people who fund the BF, no less. Did the think-tank think this through?)
Alarm bells must ring for the Bauhinia Foundation and its friends in officialdom when our city’s younger citizens reveal impressive insight and say, in effect, that they’re damned if they’re going to work in some dump on the Mainland. This is disturbingly off-message, and the Standard quotes burly BF boss Anthony Wu as saying the brats should “get out of their comfort zone.” You are supposed to want to be a part of the motherland you ungrateful little bastards.
If it’s any consolation, a decade’s local and national propaganda about Hong Kong vis-à-vis China and China vis-à-vis the world seems to have seeped into the under-35 generation’s minds:
When asked about Hong Kong’s competitiveness in 10 years’ time, 36.5% of the respondents believed Hong Kong would remain more competitive than other major Asian cities, such as Seoul, Taipei and Singapore; 23.9% took a pessimistic view. But they became more pessimistic when Hong Kong was compared to the first-tier Mainland cities and world-class metropolises such as New York and London.
That Seoul, Taipei and Singapore will remain of little consequence is not hard to believe. That Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen will mysteriously surpass Hong Kong and even attain parity with the Big Boys requires some imagination, however. You have to accept all the post-1997 integration/cooperation/partnership/marginalization flimflam about Hong Kong being too pathetic to look after itself. And you have to convince yourself that Mainland cities, after mastering escalator maintenance, will have a free currency, judiciary and media. (This is assuming that ‘competitiveness’ here refers to things like financial services, rather than trafficking in mentally ill slaves.)
Finally, the BF’s briefing mentions the data that much of the media made their story angle: quite a lot of younger people would think about leaving the Big Lychee. This is as unsurprising as the rest of the study findings (and, I like to think, nicely complements youths’ reported belief in the veiled threats/propaganda about Hong Kong’s future viability). Also: did the BF questionnaire by any chance ask whether the kids have heard about Anthony Wu being tapped as Chief Executive after 2017?