Reality Check: Hong Kong spirit lives on
Updated 17:28, 30-Jun-2022

Editor's note: The "Lion Rock Spirit" lives on! The 1970s Cantopop hit that celebrates the resilience of HK people still resonates. The central government has been with them every step of the way. Liu Xin's Reality Check will look at how they've weathered storms and are heading to a bright future.

Welcome to Reality Check.

There is a song called "Below the Lion Rock. " Sung by the Cantopop star Roman Tam in the late 1970s, it describes the spirit of an older Hong Kong generation who battled against hardships and transformed Hong Kong into a prosperous city.

The song has touched many. And the term "Lion Rock Spirit" is often used to describe the determination and resilience of the local people.

That spirit has stood the test of time:

Over the past 25 years, Hong Kong has weathered tremendous challenges, including the Asian financial crisis, the SARS epidemic, the Great Recession, and violent unrest, which started in 2019, right before the COVID-19 pandemic turned the whole world upside down.

There have been some dark moments. But still, the city has grown significantly.

Its per capita GDP doubled, from less than 25,000 to nearly 50,000 USD. It is consistently ranked as one of the most competitive economies in the world. The average daily turnover of the spot stock market grew over 10 times. The average male and female resident can live some 6 years and 5 and half years longer, respectively, one of the highest life expectancies in the world.

But this cutting edge has not come easily.

Besides being the logistical engine of the city, the central government has been a bedrock of support that the city can turn to whenever a crisis strikes. During the Asian financial crisis, which broke out in 1998, then Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji promised that the central government would protect Hong Kong from the financial crisis "at all costs."

Beijing unequivocally supported the Hong Kong dollar's link to the U.S. dollar and offered the use of the mainland's foreign reserves, if required.

When SARS hit in 2003, the mainland promptly sent free medical supplies. A team of 200 nurses was especially trained and put on standby for the city, despite the mainland's own need to fight the virus. An economic agreement was later signed between the two sides to help the city's economy recover.

When the Great Recession spread to Hong Kong in 2008, the central government vowed, "anything that is in the fundamental interests of the country and Hong Kong, favorable to the region's social, economic and political development and conducive to Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability, would get full support from the central government." A series of policies and measures was rolled out, which helped stabilize the situation.

And when the most brutal wave of the COVID-19 pandemic struck earlier this year, the central government acted swiftly to respond to the call. A medical team of nearly 400 professionals from 25 mainland medical institutions was sent to the city. Mobile cabins for patients and a makeshift emergency hospital were constructed with the help of the central government. Hundreds of millions of testing kits and masks, together with other medical supplies, were dispatched.

And the list goes on.

It would be unfair, however, to say Hong Kong is always and only on the receiving end.

Since its return, the city has become an ever more important gateway of financial services for the mainland. It has been the mainland's largest source of inbound direct investments and the largest outbound investment destination. It is the world's largest offshore Renminbi business center, handling over 70 percent of the total share.

As of April 2022, over 1,300 mainland enterprises were publicly-listed in Hong Kong.

The city's rich heritage in entertainment and arts has made a unique contribution to the entertainment industry in China.

The latest example is the movie "The Battle at Lake Changjin," released last September. Set during the Korean War, the movie has become the second-highest-grossing film of 2021 worldwide and the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time.

And two of the three directors of this film are from Hong Kong.

25 years under Chinese rule is very short, compared to 150 years under British colonial rule. Ups and downs are inevitable.

But those who bet against Hong Kong will keep being proven wrong well into the future.

Because it's in the interest of China to keep Hong Kong special and relevant.

And with the hard work of all those who love this place, Hong Kong will continue to shine.

Happy birthday, Hong Kong SAR!

Search Trends