Hong Kong is never a place I wanted to go to. It's my nightmare city -- run over with financial service expatriates and the accompanying service sector worker class providing leisure 'needs' and domestic care and all those pesky little tasks of everyday living that a good capitalist should avoid actually doing. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, governed as a special administrative region, independent in many ways in its governance and thus structured, economically, socially, to be COMPLETELY DEPENDENT on global capital speculation.
But mind you, i know a lot of Asian-American college graduates who have worked in financial services, who have passed through this place. People in their 20s, posted for weeks, months, summers-- a weekend? for job duties in Hong Kong. Merrill, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, UBS, Anderson (way back when)-- And they never come back with stories. They don't stay long. Maybe it's because Asian-Americans can't get excited about a city that is so much like Seoul or Tokyo, so much like the other Asian hubs of global capital. What's the uniqueness of the place? 24-hour shopping districts, skyscraper department stores, migrant workers, red-light districts... It doesn't have the military history, the US GI presence, that Seoul has, but I wonder what being a British protectorate for so long does to you.
What are the values that citizens there have? How will they respond to the Korean farmers, who want to reach them on the streets with public education and a sense of what agrarian culture and livelihood means to them? Will they be moved? Will they remember anything or will it only register as a passing form of street entertainment? Will they remember the many ways in which the flows of their day, for five, seven days, were disrupted? Will they remember why?
So we're going to Hong Kong, knit together by this sense of solidarity, and it will be amazing. But when we come back, we have to remember all our peers who long to be hired by the companies that reside and bounce between these global cities, who want to work for the incredibly powerful transnationals that have everything to benefit from unequal trade. Hopefully we will learn how to talk to them (brother, sister, neighbor, friend).