HK Time Out Magazine – Column #29

I’m currently contributing a short, light-hearted political column to Hong Kong Time Out Magazine. Below is the uncut, original version of my latest piece…

Republic of HK?

Last week was the 13th July 1st democracy rally and it tends to attract all kinds of causes – from domestic maid unions and a group demanding full British nationality for Hong Kongers, to individuals with personal gripes against the health system. But one eccentric faction unlikely to be showing themselves in public is the HK independence movement. They exist solely in cyberspace, mostly because some legislators have suggested their campaigns are in defiance of archaic treason laws.

The Hong Konger Front is an alliance of websites proposing that the city finally declares itself a republic. Hkfront.org includes mock-ups of what the flag would look like along with a potential national anthem, complete with a catchy chorus – “Is it a great country? Yes, it is. Hong Kong is really great.” It alludes to the fact that we may have somewhat of a war with China on our hands (perhaps lasting ‘20 years’) but fails to discuss how totally reliant we are on the mainland for much of our food and all of our water.

There is little to unify the ideas and policies laid out on the different sites and sparsely populated Facebook groups, but all seem to harbour an odd nostalgia for the old colonial government coupled with a healthy disdain for the motherland. Many of the foreign registered sites urge a boycott of China, foreseeing a democratic sovereign future state, headed by a president as part of the UK commonwealth.

Whilst there is room for debate over Taiwan, Tibet and East Turkistan’s status, these groups fail to consider how comfortable most Hong Kongers now are with our new overseers. To protect the property market, a decision was made long before handover about the territory’s future and soon, the question of what happens to the city after 2047 will need to be tackled. However, it’s unlikely the ‘Republic of HK’ will be a viable option.