National Geographic : 2012 Jun
Hong Kong brethren as kong chan, or Hong Kong bumpkins. e University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Program reports that in recent surveys, most residents view themselves rst as Hong Kongers, not Chinese, underscoring a growing resentment toward mainlanders, who were referred to in a Hong Kong newspaper ad as "locusts" swarming the territory. Nearly half the babies born in Hong Kong's reputable hospi- tals last year belonged to mainlanders, spurring protests by Hong Kong mothers worried that, in this auspicious Year of the Dragon, when birth- rates are sure to spike, the already overtaxed Hong Kong hospital system will be unable to handle its own. At a Dolce & Gabbana store recently, Hong Kong residents were banned from taking pic- tures in front of the store's window display. In re- sponse, over a thousand Hong Kongers gathered in the street in front of the store to demand an apology, while venting pent-up frustration that they were being treated as second-class citizens in their own home. Tensions are building, layer upon layer in the oating city. "Visitors see Hong Kong as the emerald city on the mountain," Alex Tsui says, "but it's an ailing city. e head is not working right. e limbs don't work. e footwork is o ." Back at Times Square, Sam Wong approach- es the end of his hunger strike so groggy and fatigued he takes refuge in a tent, holding his head and closing his eyes as the endless stream of oblivious shoppers comes and goes. He feels someone must stand up to China, though he will be glad when it's over. Night falls; the buildings are lit, lined like candles. The ferries churn in the bay. The planes glide overhead like silver pterodactyls, the streets a river of consumers. Hong Kong, city of a hundred cities, seems as restless as it ever was, morphing once more. "People are shocked when I show them pic- tures of the rice paddies that were here in the 1970s," says Patrick Mok, the memorykeeper. " en, we lived in the streets, in the open-air markets and stalls. Afterwards, everything moved indoors, into the malls, behind closed doors, in air-conditioned spaces. We're not sure who we're becoming now, but we can feel our- selves disappearing." j Behind closed doors legal prostitution thrives in Hong Kong. Many sex workers come from the mainland---like "J," a 32-year-old who operates a one-woman brothel, the only type of operation allowed. In two years she has made enough to invest in real estate.