Is it the end of Hong Kong?

Reporting by Sebastien


Is Hong Kong disappearing? At the end of February, Year-11 student Austin gave a talk to Year 7 academic scholars on the past, present and likely future of Hong Kong. “It is bleak,” he says.

With a population of 7.4 million living in an area of just over 1000 km2, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated territories in the world. Having grown up there, Austin spoke from experience as he introduced students to the distinct identity of “Hong Kongers” borne from a unique mix of Eastern cultures and Western influence through British Colonialisation.

Hong Kong’s rapid growth as a financial hub over the course of the 20th century meant that at its peak – in 1993 – the gross domestic product of this single territory was more than one-quarter that of the whole of China. But with the planned transfer of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule, there was uncertainty about the territory’s future, says Austin, and many Hong Kongers chose to emigrate.

When the People’s Republic of China took over control in 1997, Hong Kong became a special administrative region according to the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”. But as China’s economy has grown and through enactment of the National Security Law in 2020, Hong Kong has become weaker. In spite of protests, China has continued to tighten its grip and people living in Hong Kong saw no future there and 143,800 citizens left between 2019-2022. The economy was shrinking. Hong Kong was becoming China.

“It was a fascinating talk,” said Alex, one of the Year 7 scholars. “I never knew anything about it.”

In 2021, Austin’s family took the difficult decision to leave Hong Kong too and having moved to the UK, he joined Eltham College in year 9. “It will soon be just another city under Chinese rule,” he predicts.