“Hong Kong is hell.”

That was about the last thing I heard as I was leaving the city. Said by the taxi driver who was taking me to Kowloon Station on the way to the airport. He was grumbling over the incessant building activity, the diversions and obstacle on the way to the station, and the ever congested traffic. But his real complaint was about rising housing costs. “It isn’t only that,” he added. “Store rents are also going up steeply and store prices are following along. Only the super-rich can survive here.” And he wasn’t the only one from whom I heard this during my visit.

Meanwhile the glitzy shopping malls were still full of customers strolling along with bags full of newly acquired possessions. Outside glamorous stores like Gucci, Hermés, and Dior lines of shoppers were waiting patiently to get admitted. Hundreds of mainland Chinese were rolling their suitcases down the marble floors stuffed full of goods to take home for resale. But the glitz, the glamour, and the frenetic shopping activity cannot hide the fact that the gap between super-rich and everyone else is becoming greater and greater in this capitalist paradise.

The result is that more and more young people in Hong Kong fear that they will never be able to afford a home of their own. And the rate of their emigration is going up. They are leaving for places like Taiwan and even far away Iceland. There is also increasing poverty here and the number of homeless is inevitably rising, much of this hidden from the view of visitors and the affluent shoppers. More on this

 

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