The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, November 01, 1972, Page PAGE 14, Image 14

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    Placid Hong Kong
has head in the sand
I". . - I i .JL
by Sydney Liu and Maynard
nearly one million tourists
who flock here every year,
Hong Kong has always been a
jewel among cities with its
colorful junks, its shop
windows jammed with
duty-free Japanese pearls and
cameras, its eager citizenry
adept at turning out everything
from first-class suits ,in,.,24
hours to some of the best food
East of Suez. " ' " '
Of course, there has always
been something Dickensian
about Hong Kong, too an
awareness that amid great
wealth lies stifling poverty. But
one of the characteristics of
Hong Kong has been that no
one seemed to object to the
poverty. The Chinese refugees,
who comprise 99 per cent of
the British colony's 4 million
persons, have always been too
busy surviving to complain.
These days, though, the
once placid face of Hong Kong
is fast becoming angry. The
legions of poor Chinese no
longer take for granted
exploitation at the hands of
Are you the kind of person '
who rejects quick, su
perficial explanations V...
.who likes to dig a little
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ff rr, a salesman before buyiny . . . really think some- 1 . .
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Of course, this kind of intensive reporting takes more than a
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And because these people arc usually the kind who have the
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British colonists and wealthy
Chinese merchants.
During the past year, the
crime rate has soared. There
have been demonstrations
about everything from
inflation to rising apartment
rents, demands that the
Chinese language be made
co-official with English and
that the Chinese majority be
given a greater say in its own
Hong Kong is hardly about
to explode in some form of
proletarian revolution. But in
recent months, discontent has
become so rampant and so
militant that the British
establishment is growing
increasingly uneasy about what
one observer calls "the rather
trenchant question as to
whether Hong Kong isn't just a
rich man's racket."
Curiously enough, the
discontent coincides with-and,
in fact, stems from-the
greatest period of prosperity in
Hong Kong's history.
Back in 1967, Maoist riots
nearly brought the colony to
its knees. Marauding bands of
Red Guards inspired and
o (Juliet
it might be just what you are looking
.-'fir V, ; :
a few
Hong Kong's low cost
deteriorated into vicious
equipped from mainland
China tried to bring the
Cultural Revolution to Hong
Kong and in the process
severely shook the staunchly
capitalist economy.
But Hong Kong survived
and from survival came a
renewed confidence that
resulted in an economic boom.
"Before the riots," one
businessman recalls, "there was
always a question as to
. . ... J of people accept news as some
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hveen their favorite TV shows. The
" . Observer is not for them.
' fiut does it sound like the kind of news
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If so, we invite you to try The National Ob
server under a special trial subscription offer:
20 weeks for $2 67.
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I Th- National Observer, 200 Burnett Road. Cliltoix. Ma. 01021
Yes. I want to take advantage of your trial subscription of
fer Please send me The National Observer for 20 weeks
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I D Check here if you enclose money order or check.
(Please print)
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the balance.
housing projects, built within the last 25 years, have
whether Hong Kong could
stand firm against an internal
Communist threat. When we
proved that we could handle
anything the local Communist
apparatus could throw against
us, we came out with increased
business confidence."
No one knows exactly how
rich a city Hong Kong is, but a
few unoffical estimates from
international bankers paint a
picture of extraordinary
'n this hurrv up world, a lot
'AM(? I
wealth. The Hong Kong
government, for instance,
currently has investments and
reserves in Great Britain
totalling more than $1.1
billion, as well as another $600
million in reserve to back the
Colony's own dollar.
It is precisely these reserves
that infuriate Hong Kong's
poorer Chinese citizens. They
feel that instead of hoarding
capital, the Hong Kong
government should spend some
of its wealth to improve the
quality of life in the colony.
Indeed, there is substantial
evidence that, despite all its
wealth, the Hong Kong
government has done precious
little to improve the quality of
life in the crowded city. For
In education, the
government claims there is a
free seat in primary school for
every child. On paper that may
be true. But in fact, while there
are empty places in schools far
from densely populated areas,
in the inner city the schools are
overcrowded, ill-equipped,
inadequately staffed and
m a I ad m i n i s t ered . The
secondary-school situation is
far worse.
In housing, the
government crows about the
fact that in the last 25 years it '
has built enough low cost
housing to accommodate a
quarter of the city's people.
True. But through the years,
the low-cost projects have been
allowed to deteriorate into
vicious slums. In some projects,
the per-person space allotment
is 35 square feet with the result
that many Hong Kong families
of five live in one-room flats no
bigger than a medium-size
American bedroom.
In social welfare, the city
spent only $3 million for
public assistance in 1970
despite a budget surplus of
$100 million. In all, says an
official government report, the
Social Welfare Department's
expenditure for staff salaries in
1970 was nearly twin? the
amount spent on all forms of
actual aid to the needy.
As one foreign diplomat
says, "Hong Kong is a
delightful place if you are rich
but a real hell if you are poor."
Newtwot-k Feature Service
ASUN Standing Committee
Meeting Times
Environmental Task
Force-Wednesday 8 p.m.
Legislative Liason-Tuesday
8 p.m.
Human Rights-Wednesday
6:30 p.m.
Legal Rights-Wednesday 7
Student Services-Tuesday
8:30 p.m.
Center for Educational
Change-Thursday 7 p.m.
All meetings held in the
Nebraska Union.
page i4
daily nobraskna
Wednesday, november 1, 1972