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Faced with shrinking prospects some youth define themselves as in opposition to China: new book

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Ben Bland, author and foreign correspondent     Photo: fcc.org

As Hong Kong’s economic power relative to that of a rising China declines Beijing feels able to exert pressure freely in the territory. Aware of this Hong Kong’s young people also find their prospects cramped by economic stagnation, rising inequality and increased living costs, particularly in housing. Some young people are rebelling, defining themselves as in opposition to the mainland.

This is reported in a book first published this year by Ben Bland, South China correspondent for the Financial Times based in Hong Kong. The book is entitled Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow. Ben interviewed activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung. Ben writes that these youngsters do not speak for the millennial generation, but rather to it. The book is anecdotal and does not claim the youngsters’ views are representative of Hong Kong youth as a whole. Nevertheless for people struggling to understand the rising political currents in Hong Kong it is informative.

Reviewer Nick Holdstock writes in the FT: “The picture that emerges is not a hopeful one. Few of Bland’s interviewees think the Chinese government will back off. Like other semi-autonomous regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet, Hong Kong looks destined to become subject to ever-tighter control from Beijing. But as Bland makes clear, opposition is likely to continue, and may well become more radical in its demands (and perhaps its methods). The big question, that Bland sensibly does not try to answer, is whether the majority of Hong Kong citizens will support a more confrontational approach.”

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