Reading between the lines a bit, the Standard sort of announces that the Hong Kong government is going to transfer – via our favourite intermediaries, the property developers – the land along the border to Mainlanders. Welcome to the visa-free economic zone, presumably to be named Locustland. This is much bigger in scale than previous proposals to speed up that wonderful lovely integration with Shenzhen that we’re so desperate to have. Under this plan, the Lok Ma Chau Loop will just be where the hordes of visitors wipe their feet.
Those of us who by nature like to look on the bright side might see some advantages. The busloads of Mainlanders who come here to buy the tacky Made-in-China European designer label fashion will be able to do it up in the distant New Territories rather than in our downtown neighbourhoods. The vast Armani, Bulgari and other outlets in Central and Tsimshatsui will close down and the premises will gradually decay and return to nature, with creeping vines growing up the walls and little furry animals building nests.
The more negative among us might be worried about environmental degradation, overcrowding, illegal immigration, the swamping of schools, hospitals and housing, and a thousand other problems that might happen when you let 1.3 billion people into your front yard.
Cynics, on the other hand, will wonder whether perhaps the Standard is pushing an agenda. The idea of a visa-free zone for ‘high-end production, service industries and retail business’ comes from the One Country, Two Systems Research Institute. The ‘individuals of social standing’ behind this quasi-think-tank comprise nearly all our most highly respected property tycoons and other plutocrats (I defy anyone to look down the list and spot more than a mere one, well maybe two, in ten who is or has been involved in some sort of alleged corruption, insider trading, illegal basement-building, luxury yacht-sharing or other jiggery-pokery (extramarital dalliances not included)). And, yes of course, Charles Ho – proprietor of the Standard and Sing Tao – is among them. As is the Honorable Lau Wong-fat of the New Territories’ Heung Yee Kuk.
The property cartel has accumulated land in this part of Hong Kong. If Chief Executive CY Leung is going to divert more resources into affordable housing for local people, the tycoons would love a separate slice of the city that they could bundle up for sale to the money-launderers and princelings from up north. The services-sector possibilities are endless: the ‘My Father is Li Gang’ private college for gifted rich kids; the Gu Kailai luxury retirement community; the six-star Robert Mugabe Resort Hotel; a supermarket stacked full of guaranteed non-poisoned milk powder; and the Guangdong Province Corrections Department Number-One Harvested Organs Transplant Clinic. But…
Over at the South China Morning Post, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, while ‘vague on the idea of the policy for the border area’ (and who among us, in all truth, isn’t?), seems fairly sure about one thing…
Maybe the Research Institute will have to rename itself One Country, Two Systems, No Locustland.
Actually, this 1.3 billion that people glibly repeat is, I’m sure, an underestimate (thanks to the one-child policy).
Also the map is rather out of date. The coast east of Sha Tau Jiao has undergone extensive reclamation, probably including HK waters (the delineation of the border has often been muddy): presumably why it’s all in bright green.
The main road in this area is single track, and there’s no speed limit, so the potentially hundreds of millions of black Mercedes will have great fun playing chicken.
Presumably we’ll need another barbed wire fence or two along the new land border — especially for the enclave on the left — plus the obligatory tunnels, overhead smuggling wires, and utility cables. Jobs for the boys!
Lets take a cynical look at this ‘win win’ proposal
Win – The CCP who can stuff this area full of mainlanders, who eventually will become resident voters;
Win – The Developers and Shenzhen “persons” who, like pigs in the trough, stand to make a killing.
This is the CCP playing the long game to bring Hong Kong to heel by importing hordes of mainlands (remember Donald mentioned a population of 10M) to change the political dynamic. Aided as ever our ever compliant business community and inept government.
As to the wishes of the current Hong Kong population of 7M ? Fuck Off.
Death by a thousand cuts … this is just another cut. One factor that has been overlooked is that other nations are already concerned about Hong Kong’s rather liberal import/export regime and how this facilitates criminals/ terrorists. This proposal will no doubt raise further worries, so there is an international dimension to this. Of course none of this will stop it if money is to be made.
Pity it’s not the other way around and putting chunks of Shenzhen under Hong Kong administration. *shrugs*
Government departments frequently cite the fallacy of “Hong Kong’s growing population” as justification for some of their more absurd development plans – eg the artificial island / land reclamation proposal (in reality a scheme for cheap disposal of construction waste).
So will this transfer of land along the border obviate the need to build the artificial islands? Or will it in turn produce more construction waste that a compliant government will be only too happy to jettison in Hong Kong waters to save the developers the cost of shipping it to China for disposal?
So what happened to all of you around here who kept insisting that CY was our saviour, that he would clean up the property developers mess?
Instead we are now in fast-forward mode to one country, one system.
“Visa free” implies that the mainlanders going to these special zones pass through some kind of HK immigration checkpoint where they are asked to show their HK visas for HK – proper , if that’s where they do in fact intend to go. But I assume that if they don’t have a valid visa the immigration officers will tell them : “Don’t go wandering beyond the yellow line in the road which marks the edge of the visa-free zone or you may get caught, fined and sent back . We have an small army of special enforcement agents in training for just this purpose : nasty, vicious, eager to pounce, and ruthlessly efficient. They are currently employed as traffic wardens in Central”
Gavin Coates had it right with the title of his collection of political cartoons – ‘One country, two fingers’.
Should this transfer of benefits on a grand scale go ahead, it will only speed the inevitable. Mainlanders have already topped out the high end of the housing market, and the steady flow of non-productive mainland immigration has snapped up Tin Shui Wai, much of Yuen Long and all the cubicles between them. Gives us a new perspective on ‘sandwich class’ housing. The obvious next step would be to buy great swathes of the territory at a time and do what you want with it.
It’s time to sell HK to the highest bidder, turn the lights out and bugger off. And for those who can’t leave? They will change from being servitors to unsavoury developers to being servitors to unsavoury money-launderers. Maybe chuck $10,000 each at them from the profits to buy aquiescence – I’m sure John Tsang would oblige
Why pay good money for their acquiescence when you can just ignore them until they are out-bred?
Yes, but lets just, for the sake of argument, assume that the PRC is the sovereign power here. The concept would be, then, fuck off if you don’t like it. And probably some people will. Won’t make much difference in the long run.
On another note, Hemmer’s scenario… that the hordes of locusts don’t get past Shataukok… would be brilliant. Right now, you can buy anything you like in TST, so long as what you like is a handbag, watch or cosmetics. Anything else, well, fuck off. Used to be you could buy a tin of paint or something useful like that around here.
The endgame for Hong Kong has never been in doubt. But reading The SubStandard to supposedly gain insight into the process by which we are to be swamped with locusts is not a good use of our remaining hours of relative freedom.
Shataukok itself is largely mainlander (and urban folk)-free, being still a closed area, a peaceful fishing village, an island of SCMP deliveries in a sea of patriotic fervour, with an ATM, a queue-free PO and a couple of supermarkets: a barrier to stop people taking the ferry to Kat O.
“Kai Feng III” is going to steam across the Starling Inlet to land at Sha Tau Kok, demonstrating HK sovereignty… …erm wait, authority… …hmm what’s the word?
Do it, Ah Ngau. HKers are pissed and bored, and KF2 has provided the most righteous fun in years. Sure, it’ll be the Marine Police instead of the Japan Coast Guard but we can actually see the festivities live in person this time!
So, So Thirsty ….what is your solution?
The solution, obviously, is to grab that cash with both hands, and make a stash. And keep the foreign passport close at hand.
Still grossly missing the point. The Xinjiang Solution in full force. Every Canto-babbling traitor supplanted by 2-3 party-loving Putonghua speakers. Ask Tibetans how the Chinese do it. Ask the Uighers. No better yet, ask them in Guangzhou proper. In less than 20 years the insidiously clever commies have even managed to supplant Canto as the main tongue spoken in the _home_ of Canto. And you think puny little Hong Kong and its allegedly “freewheeling” ways stands a chance? Dream on. This place is going the way of every other bowel excrement that ends up in the paddock.
Oh, since we’re on the topic of locusts, what’s putonghua for Hongcouver? Shangcouver perhaps?
Imagine Canada… with a mere 26 million inhabitants… China could sneeze and shed that many emigrants in 2 yrs if it wanted to. And they seem to want to, very very muchee. Start thinking bigger Hemmers. Or get your 88th Floor windows cleaned. Seems the muck is impairing your wider views.