HK’s woes not due to China, but of its own making

HK’s woes not due to China, but of its own making

Is it fair to blame China for Hong Kong’s current problems? (Beijing risks pushback with hard-line stance on HK; July 14).

Hong Kong did not have democracy under British rule until after the decision to return the city to China, when the colonial government started to introduce a degree of democracy. Hongkongers are therefore not worse off under China.

Without any experience, how would they know which form of democratic system suits them best? Freedom of speech has boundaries, and before the Sino-British agreement, the colonial government would not have tolerated any challenge to its rule over Hong Kong.

It would have come down on any Hongkongers demanding that Hong Kong be returned to China. So why discredit the Chinese government for expecting them to be loyal to their country, like any government would?

With regard to “Western administration”, Hong Kong has retained the civil service system set up by Britain. The main difference is that top positions held previously by the British are held today by Hongkongers.

Would its civil service led by locals be worse than one that was led by a group of people sent from thousands of miles away? Attracting and retaining capable people is the issue.

Is democracy a panacea for Hong Kong’s problems? Singapore is considered to be well-managed but is regarded by some as an autocracy. Economic success comes at a price, but perhaps because of our government, the problems are contained.

Taiwan has a mature democratic system by Western standards, but living standards have stagnated. South Korea is doing well economically, but its presidents are not shining examples.

The Asian tigers were blessed with a favourable environment when their economies took off, and Hong Kong’s problems are largely owing to a failure to respond effectively to external changes.

Domestically, its housing problem is an issue of land rights inherited from the colonial government and of local opposition to reducing green areas. One may notice a lot of land suitable for housing when travelling to its outlying areas.

Its problems are not down to China’s interference. Hong Kong needs good, strong governance. China has many capable governors and mayors who manage economies and populations larger than Hong Kong’s.

I venture that Hong Kong could have been managed better if the right people had been sent there.