I was back in Taipei last week, taking a belated October week holiday. It’d been over 6 months since I last left Beijing so it was a very welcome trip. I got to appreciate Taipei again, mostly for basic elements of civilization such as uncensored Internet, loads of politeness and good customer service, and a sense of security and comfort that one can never take for granted in BJ. I’d almost felt sad to be leaving to go back to the mainland. I spent the last few days seeing friends and ex-colleagues that involved a hearty amount of food and beer.
Yet after a week, I knew it was time to go back as I was reminded again of why I’d left Taipei, which I’ll touch on later.
So I’m back and back to the normal grind of work and late nights.
While I was over in Taiwan, the weather turned murderous in Beijing for three days, then changed completely over the weekend and since I came back, has been all blue skies, sunshine, and light clouds.
However, in Hong Kong, the pro-democracy protests have continued into a third week, and have escalated at times into heated confrontations and violence, involving mainly people opposing these protesters. The latest development is a shocking case of alleged police brutality where a protester was arrested then beaten up as he was handcuffed. Then on the mainland, the BBC has now been blocked, joining Instagram and the South China Morning Post as the latest media/social media service to be banned due to coverage of the Hong Kong protests.
The protests are complicated, stirring up issues of politics and generational and class differences and challenging the party’s authority and raising questions from mainlanders. Yet to understand the problems in Hong Kong from beyond a political perspective, this is a good take on the property curse that afflicts HK, giving it a superficial element of prosperity whilst fostering inequality and stifling the growth of alternate industries. Hong Kong, in contrast to Singapore, has not put much of its abundant funds into public housing, health care and pensions. As a result, poverty has grown to 20% and inequality is massive. Billionaires and financiers still continue to do well, buoyed by rising property prices, whilst much of the population struggles to afford decent housing or pay tremendous amounts of money for tiny apartments.