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Hong Kong Protesters Have Colonial Nostalgia For a Reason


This idea that Hong Kong protestors are just mindless dupes of the Anglo-American alliance simply because they wave British & US flags is unfair insofar as it ignores that Hong Kong experienced the opposite of what other regions conquered by Britain did, precisely because of its geographic proximity to mainland China.

When the British began their conquest of India in 1757, it was rich, when they left in 1947, it was poor, whereas with Hong Kong it’s the other way around, when the British acquired it from China after the first Opium war in 1841, it was a mere fishing village, when they left in 1997, it was first-world wealthy, largely because its status as an entrepot meant that it attracted British investment, paid for with the looted wealth of India and mainland China.

During China’s century of humiliation, when British & French troops looted the Summer palace, and when the Eight-Nation imperial alliance collectively suppressed the Boxer rebellion, Hong Kong did extremely well as the conduit through which the British sucked out China’s wealth in exchange for opium. Given that Hong Kong benefited from the economic subjugation of the Chinese mainland, obviously they developed an entirely different culture.

The mainland viewed economic freedom as something to be heavily controlled by state planning in order to break from the patterns of trade that defined the British colonial era, which in turn necessitates ideological hegemony, and therefore a degree of authoritarianism, whereas for Hong Kong, the economic freedom they enjoyed under Britain was premised on the economic subjugation and non-freedom of the hinterland.

In what other supposed proletarian uprising do banks, the high priests of economic freedom, tell their employees to go out in protest? There’s a lot of tired, stressed-out, overworked, debt-ridden youngsters in Hong Kong whose prospects are considerably worse than what their parents enjoyed, whereas in mainland China their generational counterparts are considerably better off than their parents were.

Totally different historic memories.

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