Voice in Legco
Voice in Legco - Say No to Parochial “Nativism”!

In recent years, “nativism” has been teething in Hong Kong, with some people arguing that government policies must “put Hong Kong people first”. However, parochial “nativism” is indeed detrimental. Hong Kong’s economic foundation can be shaken if it closes the door and isolates itself.


Hong kong has always been a diverse and inclusive society, but in recent years, some people have exaggerated frictions arising from interaction and integration between Hong Kong and the Mainland into exclusionism. Besides, some Members of the Legislative Council have proposed motions requesting the HKSAR Government to “put Hong Kong people first” when formulating policies to address the “conflicts between the Mainland and Hong Kong”. I think the underlying mindset of this advocacy stems from the feeling of suffering losses in many areas. So they make a lot of emotional aspirations, hoping to create a false perception to mislead the public into thinking that pressing for these requests are the only way to protect Hong Kong people’s interests. On the contrary, the ultra-conservative parochial “nativism” of this kind is no good for anyone.

Nativism Can Lead to Currency War

In the midst of globalization, different forms of “nativism” or “protectionism” have emerged in various places, manifesting themselves in macroscopic policies and microscopic demands.

At the macro policy level, for example, some countries are printing a lot of money to save their economies irrespective of their real economic strength, attempting to export their economic plights to other countries. This is an indirect but typical example. But have they succeeded? I believe not. The governments concerned can neither effectively direct the money supply to the real economy that needs capital nor can they manipulate the monetary policies of other countries. When this situation persists and goes beyond tolerance, the other countries would retaliate through monetary policies to offset the currency advantage of those countries. If neither party gives way, the results can be vicious cycles of currency wars.

Looking at Dongjiang Water through Nativist Lens

Looking at Dongjiang Water through Nativist Lens At the micro level, some local activists advocate “putting Hong Kong people first” with regard to water supply. They seek to revamp the charges agreement on Dongjiang water supply to Hong Kong, in an attempt to achieve that “we only pay for the water resources that we consume.

Do they know where the headwaters of Dongjiang are? They are not in the Guangdong Province, but in the forests of the Xunwu County in the Jiangxi Province. With care for Hong Kong, the Central Government has issued orders to prohibit all exploration and development projects in the catchment area of the River and its tributaries in the Xunwu County and the vast areas surrounding the reservoir in the Heyuan City in Guangdong, in order to safeguard the quality of water supplied to Hong Kong. But according to the wishful thinking of these nativists, residents in the Xunwu County and Heyuan City may all have felt “suffered” because they have not received any ecological compensation, despite having pressed for it, when the country designated these places as protected areas. If residents in Jiangxi and Guangdong had also supported parochial “nativism” and requested their respective provincial governments to “put Jiangxi people first” and “put Guangdong people first” in policy formulation, arguing that these precious water resources should have been reserved for themselves, or the areas surrounding the water sources should have been used for economic development to stimulate employment in Jiangxi and Guangdong, how should Hong Kong respond to the water supply issue?

Advocators of parochial “nativism” may reply unthinkingly that Hong Kong can develop “desalination”. If so, when can Hong Kong rely on “desalination” to achieve self-sufficiency so that the public can enjoy lower-priced yet better quality-assured water supply? They cannot give an answer. If they are asked further: how do you think if the Mainland authorities retaliate by pursuing “protectionism” against Hong Kong? Again, they will just hem and haw.

Self-isolation Detrimental

More importantly, Hong Kong has always been a “free economy” that follows an “open” economic model. If the citizens mistakenly support these specious, grandstanding assertions for parochial “nativism”, which can push the Hong Kong society towards isolation, and if they even abandon “free economy” - the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s success, it will lead to far-reaching changes to the foundation of our economic models and economic philosophy in future. This is like shooting ourselves on the foot. We and our future generations will suffer then. Earlier, some honourable colleagues and I in the Legislative Council have played a gatekeeping role in vetoing motions advocating parochial “nativism”. Going forward, the public still needs to keep their eyes wide open and joins hands to say no to parochial “nativism”.

Should you have any comments on the article, please feel free to contact Mr Martin Liao.
Address : Rm 703, Legislative Council Complex, 1 Legislative Council Road, Central, Hong Kong Tel : 2576-7121
Fax : 2798-8802
Email: legco.office.liao@gmail.com