Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Balancing Local Sentiments and Economic Benefits

Read this article this morning, and felt that it really reinforced this belief I have, that sometimes governments need to be firm on their long-term goals because the people tend to be blinded by short-term effects without realising the long-term benefits. This came also in the wake of the various critical articles about LKY after his passing away earlier...

Hong Kong is now suffering a decline in tourism numbers of 34% y-o-y, influenced by the various anti-Chinese campaigns over the past year or so. The most recent public holiday in China, which usually brings an influx of visitors to Hong Kong, did little to alleviate the decline.

The anti-Chinese sentiments began with the influx of 'businessmen' bringing counterfeit goods to and fro Shenzhen and Hong Kong. These businessmen are seen to bring down the quality of life in Hong Kong as they are usually from the lower classes of society. A series of anti-Chinese incidents began as the Hong Kong residents began to see all Chinese visitors as threat to their society and way of living.

The incidents brought the effect that the residents hoped for, a decline in Chinese visitorship. However, the counterfeit goods smugglers, according to the article, not fazed by the bad attitude of the Hong Kong residents towards them given the potential profit to be earned, continue to come in large numbers. Instead, the higher quality Chinese high-spenders are deterred, opting for other (more luxurious/ better service most likely) destinations, affecting the service industry which had depended to a large extent on them.

Should the government have taken a harder stance on protesters, or should the protesters have been given their freedom of expression? It's hard to say really, but I'm imploring those who unconditionally advocate freedom of expression to think deeper about what this freedom really entails.