Businessman Sponsors Million-Dollar Contest to ‘Solve’ Hong Kong Crisis

HONG KONG, CHINA - NOVEMBER 2: Protestors march on the street in Causeway bay on November 2, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Hong Kong slipped into a technical recession on Thursday after anti-government demonstrations stretched into its fifth month while protesters continue to call for Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie …
Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images

Finance company executive Christopher Chuang on Monday announced a contest with a million-dollar prize to find a “solution” to the Hong Kong crisis.

Chuang’s announcement assumed the political turmoil was actually caused by deep-rooted economic problems, and his rules explicitly forbade entries that call for dramatic political reforms.

Chuang is the CEO of the TGM Group — a company with extensive holdings in China — and a member of a Communist Chinese advisory body called the People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). 

RTHK quoted him saying he grew up in Hong Kong and was motivated by a desire to heal the city’s painful divisions.

“I went down to see many, many people including the teenagers, the people behind the masks. And also talk to the police. I can see the love in the police eyes for these young people. But at the same time I can see the dream, the lost dream of the teenagers,” he said.

Chuang’s contest looks more like an effort to promote positive thinking than a serious attempt to resolve the crisis since he admitted to RTHK that “political conflicts are to blame for the current impasse” but he does not want to be seen as supporting either side of that conflict.

Chuang’s effort, however, is compatible with the Chinese Communist Party’s attempt to reframe the Hong Kong protests as frustration with the city’s terrible housing market and other mundane matters boiling over into incoherent and misguided resistance to Chinese rule, egged on by hostile foreign interests such as the United States. Pro-Beijing politicians have made several attempts to resolve the political crisis by offering plans to reform the real estate market.

The South China Morning Post on Monday reported the reward for Chuang’s contest is actually $10 million in Hong Kong dollars, not $1 million as RTHK said. 

This was noted in passing at the end of an article about another prominent Hong Kong businessperson, Annie Wu Suk-ching, making considerably more pessimistic statements about two generations of Hong Kong youth being “lost” to radicalism.

“I have given up hope [on these youngsters] and will not waste my time talking to them, as they have no idea what they are doing and what they should do … Their brains have been occupied by other ideas and that is irrevocable,” Wu said on Monday.

Wu previously dismissed the Hong Kong uprising as “a small group of radical protesters,” prompting a wave of vandalism against franchises in Hong Kong operated by her family’s Maxim corporation, including Starbucks Coffee shops. She once threatened to use her position as a major sponsor of a Hong Kong secondary school to force the expulsion of students who went on “strike” to support the protest movement.

“I don’t think she has done much for youngsters. I wonder if she is eligible to say she has given up hope on us. She has been enjoying the protection of her elder generation, and the support of Hongkongers who have spent much on her brand, in climbing up to that social status,” retorted a student protester after hearing Wu’s latest remarks.

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