Seekers of Hong Kong independence must get real

by Peter Kammerer / April 11, 2016 / SCMP.COM

Calls by political provocateurs that Hong Kong should go it alone are invariably shot down by officialdom. The reasons given are, variously, that seeking independence is a violation of China’s constitution, the Basic law or national security. But such rejections avoid the fact that Singapore, a place our city is so often compared to, is an independent country, Chinese-majority and also an economic success. In fact, there are 25 nations with a smaller area than Hong Kong, several being even more affluent.

520246412Poverty-rife island nations like Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu are on the list, but so, too, are wealthy states like Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino. Liechtenstein, with a 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate, is most like Hong Kong. Yet it is about one-seventh of our city’s area, has one-200th of the population and the world’s second-highest gross domestic product per capita, 35 per cent more than our own. Apart from being a place with easy rules of incorporation, its other claims to economic fame are tourism and being the global goliath for the manufacture of false teeth. It does all this without having an airport and being landlocked.

Such details are inspirational to those who can’t stomach Beijing’s politics. They most likely have already done the calculations for what survival after independence would involve. With the central government in all likelihood hostile, new sources for food and water would have to be found. Even if an amicable agreement was struck, Hong Kong would have to adapt to its changed environment.

But people who have such thoughts are dreamers. There aren’t too many governments that would entertain the idea. Britain’s referendum for Scottish independence in 2014 is one of the exceptions and the “no” vote won, with 55 per cent. Self-rule is the best that most separatist movements can hope for. Under “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong has a good measure of that already and Beijing has made it clear that only on its terms will there be a shift. Read more…

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