The coming of the 2020s should have been accompanied by an atmosphere of vigour, as it marks the beginning of a new year as well as a new decade. However, given the anxiety, anger and turmoil Hong Kong has witnessed over the past six months or so, so much so that even the countdown on New Year's Eve was cancelled, it does not seem that many people really look forward to the new year and decade.
The coming of the year 2020 marks the beginning of the 2020s. In big cities all around the world, there were spectacular scenes of festivity to ring in the beginning of a new decade. In Hong Kong, however, the low profile of the celebrations for a new year was something unseen in past decades. With the shadow of violence hanging overhead, there were no fireworks displays over Victoria Harbour. Out of security concerns, operators of big shopping malls chose not to organise new year countdowns. Many people are at a loss as to where Hong Kong is headed and whether the future is bright or bleak. Of course, Hong Kong people are in good company, as people in the UK facing Brexit and those in the US where a presidential election is due late this year do not have a clue about the future either.
At the beginning of the 2010s, Hong Kong was prosperous on the surface. However, deep-seated conflicts kept growing in intensity, while property prices soared to one new high after another. As the disparity between rich and poor worsened and unfairness and injustice accumulated, people became restless. As for democratic development, the see-saw between idealism and reality, as well as the conflict between political ideas in China and those in Hong Kong, has put the democratisation of Hong Kong at a stalemate. "Justice through principled lawbreaking" in pursuit of democracy is an idea that is spreading across and fermenting in society ceaselessly. The emergence of the "Hong Kong independence" ideology is even an attempt to negate "One country, two systems" at its root. Not only was the emergence of the anti-amendment storm a paroxysm of people's anger, but it also marked the radicalisation of society.
The 2020s will mark a crucial turning point for the history of the world. A great change as such can bring about opportunities and hope. But it can also lead to collapse and destruction. In the short term, uncertainty will not go away as to how Hong Kong will fare and whether the global situation will become better or worse.
2020 is the year for China to realise the building of "a moderately prosperous society in all respects". Some experts predict that around 2030 China will replace the US as the biggest economy in the world. To maintain its global hegemony, the White House will step up its containment of China over the next ten years. The rivalry between China and the US will grow in intensity. Hong Kong, a small boat in the stormy seas, could plunge into danger anytime if it acts carelessly in defiance of the tide. Hong Kong is at a historical crossroads, which makes it even more necessary to identify its uniqueness and reorient itself. Hong Kong's success was attributable to its sound foundations of the rule of law and core values such as freedom, openness and tolerance. Over the past half a year, Hong Kong has been engulfed by violence. The rule of law has been dealt an unprecedented blow. As society has become orderless, Hong Kong has departed from its past formula for success. Social development requires a stable, secure environment. As an international financial centre, Hong Kong must not lose the rule of law and stability if it is to attract investors. Looking ahead at the new year, we hope that Hong Kong will restore order and the rule of law. All sectors of society, the SAR government and the central government should think of ways to put Hong Kong back on track.