Meanwhile: China changes, not Hong Kong – Philip Bowring

From The International Herald Tribune:

What’s changed in Hong Kong since Britain handed the territory over to Beijing 10 years ago? I have tried avoiding this question, put by almost every visitor since July 1997. But with the 10th anniversary approaching, maybe it’s time for some random thoughts from a resident who has lived here since 1973.

First a word of caution. It is always assumed that Hong Kong must have changed enormously since Beijing took charge. To me, though, the city has mostly just gotten bigger. Its money-making, high-rise, noisy, and sometimes uncouth nature has not changed.

By contrast, most urban centers in this part of the world have changed beyond recognition. China is the extreme case; its Mao-era cities were an unnatural, political aberration, like Pyongyang is today. But for organic urban it would be hard to beat Kuala Lumpur. Bangkok is not far behind and Jakarta, too, has been transformed. Seoul and Taipei have acquired state-of-the-art subway systems. Only Manila has visibly deteriorated. [Full Text]

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