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  • Ethan Wai Chi Leung

Hong Kong's Fall as Asia's World City

This summer, when I took a stroll around the center of Hong Kong, I realized the ambiance of our city has changed. The drowning noise of traffic, construction sites, and people chattering still hit me as soon as I stepped out of my apartment, but the lively atmosphere that used to encompass the streets and alleys has now been replaced with a feeling of irritation. The sweltering heat of summer and the humidity in the air was still unbearable; however, people were more preoccupied with the effects of the yearlong protest and the coronavirus. Squeezing myself into the crowd that covered the entirety of the sidewalk, I finally made my way into a coffee shop in the corner of the street, where I could finally take a breather. It was obvious that our city has lost its charm, vibrance, and positive energy; we had lost our honor of being one of Asia’s best cities.

Walking to the back of the line, I noticed that the coffee shop was mostly comprised of people wearing professional attire, most likely taking a break from the long repetitive hours of sitting in the office. There were no tourists, especially Chinese tourists whom the locals looked down upon as if they were pests in the city. Many find it hard not to dislike them when it felt like the city was being overrun and taken over by the mainland Chinese people. We felt like we were the cool kids and didn’t want to be associated with them. However, now that they are gone, the city feels empty. Although many still deny it, we have distanced ourselves from our best friend and have tarnished our city’s reputation. At times when we need our friend the most, we have pushed them away even further, putting us in a more dire situation than before.

After what seemed like hours of waiting in line, it was finally my time to order. I headed towards the counter to choose my drink on a small menu. The cashier put on an emotionless smile and repeated to me the thank-you she has been instructed to say and has said to the customers for the millionth time.

There was no purpose anymore. There was no purpose to being a cashier and no purpose in working in the city. People have lost their directions while they resumed their daily repetitive lives. There was no end goal, the pride which used to resonate amongst every individual in Hong Kong evaporated into the thin air. People no longer live their lives with hopes and dreams, but instead only live just to see each day pass by.

As I grabbed my drink and left the coffee shop, I thought about the Hong Kong I used to know and how it evolved to its current situation. A city that I was once proud to be a part of. Hong Kong is no longer a place full of charm and energy, we have lost our role as Asia’s world city.

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