An Unfailing Source of Hong Kong Citizenship
There is little doubt what we have built to date as a part of Hong Kong’s system and way of life is the outcome of our continuous open-door policy and a persistent attitude among the citizens to encourage diversity and pluralism in this society. Apart from a minority of indigenous people, most residents of Hong Kong are ethnic Chinese who have migrated, or whose fore-fathers and fore-mothers had come to the territory from the mainland for all kinds of reason. Indeed, Hong Kong has always been the migrants’ haven and a homeland for those seeking one. We have always adopted a flexible and lenient approach in treating those who come here to work, to study, to travel or to stay merely for a tentative period of time. We have always recognized somebody as one of us, Hong Kong people, who, despite the person’s origin, colour or ethnicity, would value the identity of being one of us, a part of Hong Kong, and be ready to share the core values and abide by the system and rules found here. We are very certain that this remains the stance of the majority of the city’s population today.
Hence, this city is “my city” for each and every one who has made it one’s home, now as always. In future, we shall continue to make Hong Kong our home-city grounded on its open, dynamic, and pluralistic way of life. Our mode of making a livelihood is local, eclectic, and most accommodating. Any new inhabitant who becomes a resident through the legal means, who shares our core values, accepts our culture, becomes an integral part of the society we build together, and is ready to contribute to its general well-being, would be received as a fellow Hong Konger. With this perspective, we must ensure that Hong Kong is autonomous in making its own immigration and population policies. Specifically, we must formulate our own policies in granting the one-way entry permits for mainland immigrants, and take full control over the issuing of visas for visitors.
Despite the limited extent of the place, in Hong Kong our vision of society accommodates for its population a vivid and dynamic lifestyle. The means of support we keep for making livelihoods are never confined to the isolated spots one dwells in. For the full scope of our city’s way of life allows all of us to embrace diversity and respect difference. With flexible life-skills and hybrid resources one often draws productively on what the immediate social environment might provide: As Hong Kongers we are used to making do with what we can get and what we must face. We like to make friends, not enemies, with whom we would sooner or later find ourselves competing actively over a common target or interest, or collaborating creatively for some common good. Together we stand, and collectively we build the unique Hong Kong spirit now known even in faraway places, places from which we continue to attract visitors, invite competitions, and bring in human as well as cultural resources. Hence, the Hong Kong method has never been one that shuts doors to external input or tolerates the discrimination against those whose cultural orientation or personal preference digresses from the average. For the faces of local culture are multiple and diversified, and top-down approaches to apply a definitive pattern on the collective way of life do not work here. In short, we must free ourselves of prejudices and straitjackets, and continue to adopt an open-minded approach to enriching the contents of the local. Proactively we should face the generational changes; collectively we must take destiny into our own hands; and together we shall make our own way toward the future as a community. For we must change, and transform ourselves in light of the changing times. On the level playing field we would allow differences to go to their respective ends, and channel all productive energies to the betterment of our society, on which the city’s future must be built.
This city is our city. In the face of social and livelihood issues, people are frustrated by policies that do not appear to connect to their concerns, nor address their real and urgent needs. Politically, the pressure has escalated to such a high level that many dread what to expect in the immediate years ahead, and deem it necessary to consider alternative ways to handle the deadlock at hand. In spite of all these, we do hold firmly the view that in another ten years, pluralism will remain the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s distinctiveness both as an identity and as the city’s most visible local feature.
History shows that in the course of this city’s trajectory in becoming the international metropolis based in east Asia, we have nurtured in the social fabric of our system a local consciousness, an array of civic values, and a whole set of institutional rules and processes that distinguish this city from any of its counterparts in the mainland. More readily articulated to the global community, our city’s culture has forged the shape of our subjectivity, and made this local community, along with its distinctive way of life, a world model of an open and free Chinese society.