The Trump administration wants to deport undocumented ‘Dreamers’, and Europeans are reportedly fleeing the UK ahead of Brexit. Liberals in these countries resist by embracing immigrants as hard-working and contributors to cultural vibrancy. Yet phenomena like Trump and Brexit are partly popular reactions against immigration – or against the ruling sophisticates who are too politically correct or driven by economics to admit that influxes of newcomers can damage life for ordinary people in host communities.
In Hong Kong, we do not have quite the same split between progressive schooled urbanites and resentful reactionary dimwits. Our ruling order has a mission to subdue enlightened pluralism and install harmony, deference and obedience. One of its methods is to displace or dilute the uppity indigenous population with mostly poorer and supposedly malleable newcomers from the Mainland.
So we have a situation where the liberal, critical-thinking, coastal smart-asses are anti-immigration, and the intolerant and authoritarian closed-minded forces are determined to cram more huddled masses from the Chinese hinterland into the city. No surprise that environmental activists Green Sense go ignored when they point out the obvious link between Hong Kong’s housing crisis and the continuous inflow of migrants. (Green Sense would be better off pointing out that the constant stream of Mainland arrivals also feeds nativist and pro-independence sentiment.)
However, Beijing is not only trying to tighten its grip on Hong Kong through long-term demographic engineering. It wants the continued support of co-opted octogenarian property tycoons whose cartels squeeze the domestic economy. That’s why you can forget all this disruptive innovative/creative tech industry stuff – we have vested interests to protect.
By allowing in more Mainlanders while artificially restricting the supply of affordable housing, the Hong Kong government forces more people into private-sector accommodation. At the lower end, this pushes up rents in nasty sub-divided apartments and similar accommodation. But the pressure on per-square-foot housing prices obviously trickles up into other market segments, hence the HK$8,500-a-month nano-flats at Shouson Hill, and ever-rising rents generally.
So Mainland immigrants make our population more loyal and patriotic – and help to push up Beijing-shoe-shining landlords’ profits. Talk about a win-win!