Independent Hong Kong

Independent Hong Kong

29th February 2020 1 By livinguktaiwan

During my recent visit to Singapore, it got me thinking about its status vis a vis Hong Kong.  If Singapore can become an independent state, why not an independent Hong Kong?


Along with Korea and Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong both used to be part of the Asian four little dragons. These were the economies that enjoy significant growth between 1960 to 1990s.

Korea’s economy has really taken off during this period through the major chaebols (conglomerates) expansion overseas. Samsung mobile handset, LG TV, Hyundai cars are a familiar sight all over the world now. On the other end of the spectrum, Taiwan’s economic growth staggered. This was partly due to its restricted participation on the global platform by China.

So what about the other two dragons, Singapore and Hong Kong? Both were former British colonies, and are similar in terms of area, population and GDP. Furthermore, both are heavily reliant on the service industry as a driver of growth.

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Hong Kong is where my parents came from. I spent many years there when I was a kid. After I graduated, I worked out there for a long time. Hong Kong is very dear to my heart. Since last year, Hong Kong has been embroiled in a protest, in a movement to stop the erosion of democracy and freedom.  It’s been nearly a year since the protest started.  The movement hasn’t stopped and the five demands still stand.

During the protest, there has been a faction that has called for an independent Hong Kong from China.  This view is not supported by the majority.  Many just want China to grant Hong Kong democratic rights due under the Basic Law that was signed by China and UK.  Furthermore, they want less interference from China. They want China not to meddle with the Hong Kong’s affairs. At the time of  Hong Kong’s handover back to China in 1997, it had (and still has) a well-established judiciary,  financial and regulatory structure.    Its reputation on the international arena is (still) well regarded and trusted.  And most important of all, Hong Kong is more than capable of managing itself.

Thus, I for one was not in favour of an independent Hong Kong.  The above are all valid factors, and any normal country would see continued laissez faire as a sensible way to maintain a harmonise and stable economy.  The problem was that Hong Kong aren’t dealing with a ‘normal country’.  Hong Kong is dealing with a country called China.


When Malaysia gained independence from British rule in 1963, Singapore became one of the 14 states of Malaysia.   However, there was a lot of distrust between the leaders of Singapore and the Malaysian federal government over political, economic and social issues.  This led to racial riots and the TL:DR version is that the federal government passed a bill in August 1965 allowing Singapore to leave Malaysia to become an independent state.  Back then in 1965, Singapore was in a much weaker position than that of Hong Kong today.  There was high unemployment, low standard of living, poor living conditions, and they lacked natural resources and infrastructure.

However, having suddenly been thrown into becoming an independent state,  Singapore quickly dealt with these issues. By the turn of the century, they had established themselves as one of the most advanced countries in the world.


Given that Hong Kong and Singapore are of similar in size. Given that Hong Kong today is in a much stronger position than Singapore back in 1965.  Given that the will of the Hong Kong people now is so strong to achieve democracy and freedom.  If Singapore can grow to a full-fledge sovereign state after being thrown into the deep end of the water,  what is stopping Hong Kong to achieve the same?  These are the questions I’ve been asking myself during my visit to Singapore.

On the face of it, all the factors Hong  Kong need to become independent are present, or not unachievable.  There are only two obstacles.

First, Singapore had Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father who served as Prime Minister till 1990.  He was credited with transforming Singapore from a developed nation to a first class country in a few decades.  Currently, no comparative figure exist in Hong Kong yet.  And second, which is the most important factor.  Singapore was dealing with Malaysia.  Hong Kong is dealing with China.

If Hong Kong can overcome these two obstacles, freedom and independence is not beyond our reach.