Into the Black Box: A Logistical Insight on Hong Kong Mobilizations. Interview with Laikwan Pang (20191227)
First, I would like to ask you to sum up which are the main points of friction between the Hongkongers and the government of the Chief Executive Carrie Lam?
There are many levels and the most prominent is the police violence. A lot of protesters had physical experience of police violence (bullets, tear gas); many of them or their friends have been arrested. So, there is a lot of anxiety and sentiment for police violence. Obviously, beyond that there is also a lot of antagonism against the HK government which has done nothing to answer the call of the protesters. And, obviously, behind the HK government there is the Beijing government, so the deepest frustration is definitely directed to PRC. So, the more apparent level is the police, in the middle the HK government and the deepest is the frustration towards the Beijing government.
Going deeper, I would like to understand better which is the relationship between HK and China in order to frame which is the potential role that the first could have in the Chinese political strategy and vision. My impression is that challenges and frictions are not limited to police violence but rooted in the “one country, two systems” model that put the city government in between the citizens claims and China politics. So, on one side I was wondering which is the vision that Beijing has for the future of HK. Just to name some points of Chinese interest for the city, there is the Greater Bay Area project or the role of the port as one of the main doors for commodities flows inside and outside Asia. On the other side, I was wondering also which are the divergent opinions that Hongkongers have on the future of the city.
To China Hong Kong is the only global city it has in terms of getting the global finance running to China. There are a lot of big cities in China – Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen – but they are not global cities in the sense that global finance doesn’t’ go through them easily and global capitalists tend to not use to use these cities to operate exchanges and transactions, they usually prefer HK to enter China. So China really needs HK as a channel to connect to the world, not only in terms of money but also in terms of high technologies – we know that US and a lot of European countries are getting more and more careful about the technological and knowledge transfer between China and the rest of the world. So, the whole idea of this Greater Bay Area has this kind of calculation behind so that HK could continue to become the port of accepting and trading Western and Global idea, knowledge and money with China. So, HK is a main channel for Chinese globalization. Obviously, HK understands this very well and also understand the power of negotiation it has, and this makes HK very different from other places. That is why there is here this idea of “if we burn, you burn with us”, the idea that if Beijing continues to suppress the freedom and intervene in local matters then the HK people destroy themselves whit China – a kind of explosive dimension. This is one of the reasons why China is not willing to do anything and why nothing could apparently happen in HK because Beijing doesn’t want to give a bad example to Chinese population. At the same time, they cannot do much because know that HK is important to China at this point…