What do the overseas Chinese think about Hong Kongers protesting against the China extradition act?

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Preface (skip straight to 1.

for my answer):First off, Quora is awesome for bringing together so many people with so many different backgrounds and experience levels, and I just want to share my own experience of this issue.

EDIT: even though I just now realized that I am the sole group this question excludes.

,Since some will undoubtedly ask, I am a CBC (Canadian-born Chinese) and now living in Hong Kong, having close family in Shanghai and HK that Iu2019ve visited almost annually my whole life, and my parents were born in HK; my father raised here as well, my mother in Shanghai.

Iu2019m proud of my Chinese heritage, speak Mandarin and speak Cantonese a-little-less-fluently (because of the nasal tones unique to Cantonese that I cannot reproduce now with my Americanized accent).

,Glad we got that out of the way.

,Iu2019ve seen countless answers on here that were all anti-protest, and I am also of that sentiment, but I want to offer a critical, rational and hopefully genuine look at what this u2018fightu2019 (which the protests have since devolved to) means for some of my friends or acquaintances, without the pseudo-name calling or mockery.

,Furthermore, yes, it is obvious the protests are no longer just about the extradition bill, which is sort of the whole motivation behind this post, since I feel like despite the fact many better answers have already addressed other causes of the protests, I want to fire off a few more u2018underlyingu2019 causes and what it means for locals who were born and raised here in Hong Kong, and who by all means identify as a Hong Konger.

,1) Economic factorA lot of responses have already mentioned the waxing economic u2018miracleu2019 of China vs.

the waning former glory of Hong Kong.

But in summary:,According to the IMF , in 2000, HKu2019s GDP was 179.

7bil USD, nearly 15% of Chinau2019s 1,211.


In 2017, HK reached 454.

9bil, but that meant little to the staggeringly impressive 12,250bil Chinese economy in 2017 (just 3.


,Hereu2019s a visual depiction of that relationship:,But what does that practically mean for an actual local of Hong Kong? Surely the immense 454.

9bil USD means everyone lives well right?,Consider, for comparison, the country of Canada (which I love dearly, but thatu2019s a different topic), which is globally the 7th largest producer of crude oil (just one of its many natural resources) in the world and has (in 2017) a GDP of 1.

653tril USD.

Per capita GDP is almost equivalent: Canada at 45,000USD and HK at 46,000USD.

,As of January 2019, the minimum wage is $37.

5 HKD which is $4.

78USD (the exchange rate is locked at 1USD to 7.


u201cConsidering the average working week of 44 hours in Hong Kong, the minimum salary in Hong Kong is of approximately HKD 7425.

The approximate amount in USD is 950 [a month].

u201d Low for any country (SAR) that counts itself among the u2018first-worldu2019.

,Of course, minimum wage is hardly a standard to go by.

Median monthly household income across all sectors was 28,100 HKD, or 3,582 USD, which again for reference is comparable to Canadau2019s 2015 median household income of 4,404 USD or the USA in 2017u2019s median household income of 5,114 USD (although see source about some modifications to the formula resulting in slightly higher numbers).

Also, all the stats are given as medians, because they are useful as measures of central tendency (u2018center of the packu2019 if you will).

But what does this mean for the average Hong Konger?In short, it means that people are working longer jobs for less money, compared to the two countries I am most familiar with.

In every aspect of my life, Hong Kong is a first-world country, and the locked exchange rate with the US functions as a lock on purchasing power.

For me (since Iu2019m no economist) that means that something like my Lenovo laptop that wouldu2019ve cost me ~1000USD in Canada or the USA, costed me ~7000HKD (a tad cheaper) here.

All commercial goods are imported, so often times they can be more expensive (like climbing shoes for example).

,There are obvious exceptions to this.

Food (like McDonalds surprisingly! Look it up) and services are generally cheaper, which reflects both the lower income, and everything would be fine if it wasnu2019t foru2026,2) Housing factoru201cThis is economic,u201d some will say.

Correct, and Iu2019ve chosen to talk about it as a separate point to ease my dwindling readership.

,I thought a graphs would work best to illustrate this, but when I googled u201cglobal housing market comparisons,u201d this turned up.

,That tall bar thatu2019s always almost double the next one? Thatu2019s Hong Kong.

We all know Hong Kongu2019s housing is expensive (and if you didnu2019t, now you do).

But, combine it with what I mentioned earlier about median household income and you get the following:,Imagine working for 21 years and saving every penny to buy a home.

This is the reality for an average Hong Konger.

,And not a nice, time-to-start-a-family, backyard-swing-set home like I grew up in in Canada:,u201cIn 2016, the median floor area of accommodation of domestic households was about 430 square feet (sq ft) and the median per capita floor area of accommodation was about 161 sq ft, with more than 90 per cent of households in the territory living in accommodation of less than 753 sq ft.

u201d This is relevant becauseu2026Many local Hong Kongers blame mainland Chinese immigrants for the inflated housing market, directly or indirectly.

On my floor, a quarter of the units are owned by Chinese immigrants who only speak Mandarin.

,The popularity of Hong Kong as a destination for both wealthy Chinese immigrants to invest and poorer Chinese immigrants to find economic opportunities cannot be understated (though I failed to provide concrete evidence of these claims beyond an anecdote).

,Whether or not this is true depends on how you view the evidence.

,This is an interesting article post-2008 with a very misleading title: Hong Kong housing bubble! Mainland buyers blamed, that explores some of the market more in-depth.

,Consider that the next three most expensive housing markets on that list from Demographia, are Vancouver (27% ethnic Chinese) , and u201c[a]t the 2016 census, Sydney was home to 44% of the Mainland China-born population of Australia, while Melbourne was home to 31%.

u201d This may be a weak argument since that is still only 4.

7% Sydneyu2019s population and 3.

5% for Melbourne, I merely forward this data as free of bias as possible (and hopefully an expert on housing markets can comment on the impact, as is common to find on Quora!).

,My final observation is that Chinese citizens buy properties in other countries or HK, but rarely will I hear of HKers, Canadians or Australians eager to do the reverse.

,3) Immigration factorsMaybe, like me before I researched it a while ago, you thought that Hong Kong was just another Chinese city, so migration is hardly surprising.

Youu2019ll notice that the UN has made a footnote at the bottom of both of these graphs that specifically distinguishes Hong Kong SAR from China.

This is because under the u201cone country, two systemsu201d policy, Hong Kong and China maintain separate borders (which is/was the reason for the extradition bill being necessary in the first place).

,I said people are coming into Hong Kong from China, but numbers and context matter.

,For context, Hong Kong has a population of 7.

392mil (as of 2017), and is still on this list, next to countries like Turkey (10x), USA(40x), and India(180x).

That is a lot of immigration.

,One-sided migrationThe one-sided migration these figure show is due to Hong Kongu2019s Permits for Proceeding to Hong Kong and Macau, or u201cone-way permits.

u201d They are exactly what they sound like, everyday 150 Chinese citizens are allowed to come to Hong Kong, and a plethora of different backgrounds and experiences have fully utilized this system (see: u2018Different crowdu2019 of mainland immigrants fill Hong Kongu2019s talent gap).

No, they donu2019t just let anybody through, but the screening is fairly lax.

,The inference Iu2019m making, and many Hong Kongers implicitly make no doubt, is that the permit enables individuals who may be lacking in opportunities in China to come to HK to look for them, which 20 years ago when Hong Kong was 15% of the countryu2019s GDP, they may well have found.

But now that China is equally full of opportunities, this system just increases competition in an already very tight job and property market (and yes, I am another example of this phenomenon, though not coming from China).

,I often hear (with regards to the average Hong Konger): u201cIf theyu2019re so unhappy with living in Hong Kong, why donu2019t they just leave?u201d The u2018unfairu2019 result is that Hong Kongers cannot as easily seek better fortunes in China, since it is still effectively going to a different country, and China has very strict visa policies .

Whether or not Hong Kongers would take this opportunity if it were presented is a matter of conjecture and a different matter.

,4) Social/Ideological factorsThis is the u201cbigu201d one, the Peopleu2019s Republic of China is still governed by the Communist Party of China.

But Iu2019m not discussing the merits of communism.

,With all its economic power, the cheap (regarding the price not the quality) accessible technologies its shared with the rest of the world, Jack Ma and bullet trains, itu2019s easy to forget that China lacks the human rights standards and transparency that the rest of the first world has taken for granted.

I forward just three examples, though there are countless more to choose from.

,a) I recently learned about Liu Xiabo (from John Oliver), a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate who received his prize while detained, was denied the chance to have a representative receive the reward in his name and eventually died during his house arrest.

,(The article Iu2019ve linked is actually about how you canu2019t watch that episode of Last Week Tonight in China, which I will try to confirm on my next visit.

),b) 1989 Tiananmen Square protests: Ignoring the controversy of its internet search results (see: Is it true that you cant Google Tiananmen Square in China?), the protests are themselves a frightening reminder of the Chinese governmentu2019s ability to take extreme action.

Context matters, and the tumultuous history of China definitely frames the incident, but on the simplest level, I am confident that no matter what I say in Canada, this would never happen.

Iu2019m not trying to entertain a discussion about double standards (even as I open this can of worms) with regards to CIA operations or Canadau2019s treatment of indigenous peoples.

I think it is difficult to justify the massacre of students convincingly no matter what your political persuasions are.

,c) You canu2019t use Google, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram: These kids are obviously u201cpissed that when HK is fully integrated as part of China, theyu2019ll lose their fiya instau201d (that was a joke, and I have to declare that because: internet).

The fact that the Chinese government insists on having full control over the media (which is different than dictating the content) is authoritarian (in the strictest sense of the word).

Whether that is a bad or even unethical thing, is entirely debatable, and best left to the hands of competent philosophers, not procrastinating students (with reference to me and the protesters).

,Anecdotal evidence (skip at your pleasure)While these ideological conflicts seem like a u2018masku2019 for more u2018pragmaticu2019 disgruntlement (like housing), they should and do matter.

,My parents left for Canada after Tiananmen Square and the looming return of HK to China.

My father had perfectly good prospects here in HK and abandoned them for ideals and freedoms.

My aunt and uncle left for Australia for the same reason.

They felt they couldnu2019t trust a communist government, even if it was only communist nominally.

,When, post 1997, HK seemed stable, my uncle and aunt moved back, and they both found highly-coveted, high-paying careers.

My parents had me, so they were unfortunately stuck forever in Canada (bad joke).

,CONCLUSION: But what does this have to do with the protests?Obviously, the protest is no longer about the extradition bill.

But it seems to me, as it is to many others, that the protests arenu2019t even about justice or freedom(s).

,Itu2019s an emotional responseu2014 a lashing out.

,Many of the protesters Iu2019ve interacted with are all from my auntu2019s secondary school.

The protester that got shot in the chest was 18; the one in the leg, 14.

Theyu2019re angry kids.

,Kids who have been told their whole life that the only prospect of going anywhere in life is to do well in academically against overwhelming parental and social pressure .

,Theyu2019re adults young and old who even after working long hours at a hard job needed to save for 20 years to finally move out of their parentsu2019 house and get started in life, whether thatu2019s marriage or simply being free of parental authority (which in Chinese culture can be overbearing).

,I saw a comment that went along the lines of:,u201cTypically losers [I explicitly remember this word being used] are the ones who are most likely to protest, while those who work hard are more moderate or less likely to be involved.

u201d,It shows such little appreciation for the role circumstance plays on opportunity.

,Iu2019m incredibly lucky to have been raised in Canada, with (relatively) good public education, have the financial resources for it (excluding tuition consider housing, food, transportation, emotional support) and have the ability to come back to HK to pursue further opportunities.

These were opportunities I capitalized on, sure, but they only presented themselves because of circumstances that were determined before I was ever born.

,This isnu2019t the case for most people in the world, and HK is no exception.

,You need to have bootstraps before you can pull yourself up by them.

,And on a psychological level, Hong Kong is their home.

Theyu2019re angry theyu2019re being out-competed (despite that being the very definition of competition), and even if they had the option to leave, why should they have to in order to survive? Why should they have to change the way they live?,These are the same anti-immigrant sentiments we see all over the world, from certain Americansu2019 reaction to Mexicans to EUu2019s reaction to middle-eastern refugees to Brexit (forgive the gross over-simplification).

But imagine (and now I abandon evidence) if Mexico was due to absorb the USA, or Britain byu2026 well whatever immigrant group they irrationally think is the root of all their problems.

,I havenu2019t used the word u2018blameu2019 once because you canu2019t reasonably assign it.

The whole situation now can be blamed on anyone: the HK government, the Chinese government, the u2018greedyu2019 rich HK people, the rich Chinese immigrants, the u2018lazyu2019 poor HK people, the system of extreme capitalism, poor Chinese immigrants, etc.

,And yes, Chinese immigrants suffer just as much, if not more, to come here and make a living for themselves and their family; Iu2019m not discussing the u201cwork ethicu201d of any particular group.

But for these people who are up in arms, there is a name to the immediate looming antagonist to their freedoms and livelihood: China.

And so we have the: u201cItu2019s Chinau2019s/Chinese immigrantsu2019 fault.

u201d,From what Iu2019ve seen and heard, thatu2019s the u2018realityu2019 of the protesters.

,Critics will be quick to point out that my arguments have not done anything to justify the protests, rather merely providing speculated causes of anti-China sentiments.

Iu2019ve seen a lot of people just say that the protestersu2019 are fighting for no rational reason and therefore theyu2019re wrong.

,But when has pointing out someoneu2019s irrational or wrong behavior ever calmed their anger or resolved the issue?My point of this increasingly wordy piece is to highlight the proof for their anger: why they are understandably angry, not why it is right.

A kid who throws a violent tantrum on the way to school isnu2019t justified in doing so, but any good parent will understand if itu2019s because of some underlying reason, school related or not.

,This situation requires empathy, something Iu2019ve seen very little of from both sides.

I detest the violence, the vandalism of the MTRs, the contempt for mainland Chinese, the walls plastered in caricatures-of-political-figures-I-donu2019t-recognize, the attempt to turn everything into a matter of police brutality, even if it may have been caused by the protesters, the list goes on and on, but I just want to remind everyone that for these protesters to go to such extremes, is the result of extreme circumstances and no other perceivable way out.