Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) has proposed the idea of a “Hong Kong village” in the hope of enticing Hong Kongers to move to the city once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. As someone from Hong Kong who has been studying in Taiwan for the past eight years, I find this infuriating.
The advantages that Han claims for Kaohsiung also exist in other cities and counties in Taiwan, so any attempt to attract people from Hong Kong should focus on Taiwan’s advantages rather than on claims that these advantages are unique to Kaohsiung. After all, under Han’s leadership, other cities are beginning to overtake Kaohsiung.
Kaohsiung’s greatest asset is probably its people, but the campaign to recall Han makes it clear that even they dislike the mayor. How could an outsider be expected to like an inept mayor when even the city’s residents want to get rid of him? It is pretty obvious that Hong Kongers are joined by Kaohsiung residents in their dislike for Han.
Looking back at the past six months, Han has shown no understanding of the situation in Hong Kong. He professed no knowledge of the demonstrations going on there, and the Kaohsiung City Government removed a “Lennon wall” in support of the Hong Kong protests that was set up in the Sizihwan Tunnel on the campus of National Sun Yat-sen University.
Hong Kong students’ dislike of Han and his comments has spread all the way back to Hong Kong. His proposal of a Hong Kong village is just his last gasp as he tries to improve his image to save his political career.
The period before the presidential election in January saw a surge in Taiwanese public sentiment in favor of protecting Taiwan and Hong Kong, and opposing China.
Han, who at the time was busy closing down the Lennon wall, is now trying to use this very sentiment to counteract the campaign to recall him as he attempts to stop his hemorrhaging support and hold on to his position as mayor. Instead, he is only highlighting his inability to govern. As someone from Hong Kong, I strongly disagree with his attempt to use Hong Kongers as a springboard to bolster his popularity.
The Hong Kong village idea does not contain any sign of long-term friendliness toward Hong Kong. Trying to attract Hong Kongers by offering 48 Chinese-English bilingual schools only reveals Han’s inability to understand why people want to move away from Hong Kong, the main reason why Hong Kongers are attracted to Taiwan, or what they want. Even if a Hong Kong village is built, it would very likely be empty and deserted.
If Han truly wants to help the people of Hong Kong, he should initiate a law regulating contacts with Hong Kong and Macau, and a refugee act, so that people from Hong Kong could remain in Taiwan in the long term.
If such a policy is politically difficult to accomplish, he could take a step back and allow Hong Kongers in Taiwan to organize and participate in events and activities in support of Hong Kong rather than promoting an empty slogan.
Academia Sinica Institute of Taiwan History associate research fellow Wu Rwei-ren (吳叡人) has said that every Lennon wall is a Hong Kong in miniature. Since the Lennon wall in the Sizihwan Tunnel was removed by the Han administration, thus blocking the demands of Hong Kongers, what is the use of building a Hong Kong village?
Furthermore, Hong Kongers like to live together, so that Hong Kong exists wherever there are people from Hong Kong. You have to wonder if Han came up with his idea to build a Hong Kong Village — which lacks both the support of Hong Kongers and the character of Hong Kong — while he was hung over, or if it was thought up by his bureaucrats in a fit of fantastic imagination.
Mayor Han, the Hong Kong protests have not ended. You are very welcome to express your support for Hong Kong, but there is no need for any empty talk about a Hong Kong village.
Chung King-chuen is a postgraduate student at National Sun Yat-sen University’s Sociology Department.
Translated by Perry Svensson
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