Recently, I encountered some people here in Hong Kong who didn’t seem all that concerned about the ongoing crisis in the city.
My reaction inside was one of disdain. How could you not care about what’s happening on your own doorstep? The city is in turmoil, and its future is uncertain. And it’s up to us to care, to be vocal about it, and to be active in the efforts towards fighting for what we believe in.
As I spent more and more time thinking about it, I got the feeling it was because they were Hong Kong transplants who didn’t truly feel this was home.
It relates to something I’ve written about — the “what defines a Hongkonger” argument. Some people consider it a blanket term for people who live in the city, while others think of it as a more specific term that applies only to those who are from here, and truly consider it home.
I’m privileged to be surrounded by very “woke” people, who come from all corners of the globe and are deeply invested in the future of Hong Kong. So when I meet people who don’t appear to care, or who want to continue existing in their little bubble that’s removed from the realities of Hong Kong, I can’t help but feel pissed off.
When I complained to my friend C about how annoyed I was to have to deal with someone in Hong Kong who clearly didn’t care much for it, she said, “Andrea, some people just have different priorities.”
So I started thinking about what their priorities might be. (In the case of one particular person I met: in response to what I’d just said about the violence in Hong Kong, their priorities were what outfit they should be wearing to dinner.)
Perhaps they’ve lived here for some time, but don’t really think of it as home. Would this explain why they care about its future less than Hongkongers who were born and raised here?
In a way, I can understand it. I have Canadian citizenship, but other than calling it my birthplace, I feel zero connection to the country. I spent most of my formative years in the UK — but even with that emotional attachment and a British passport, to me it is not home. I don’t feel like I have a dog in the fight when it comes to the Brexit debate, for example.
I’ve never considered myself as anything other than a Hongkonger, and maybe for these people, it’s the same situation. They don’t feel an allegiance to Hong Kong — their adopted city — and anyway, they can always just go back to whence they came. Is it worth converting them and making them care? I don’t know. But I could only hope that, should their hometown fall into crisis one day, that they stand as strongly with it as I do with mine.
All Tea No Shade with Andrea Lo.
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