New waves of movements have emerged in different parts of the world for various purposes. Among them, there seems to have one thing in common, searching for equality, economically, politically, etc. The two cities that I call home are going through some major social changes. The Umbrella Movement in 2014 in Hong Kong asked the Communist Party of China to keep its promise to deliver democracy to the people of Hong Kong. The Black Lives Matter movement and initiatives inspired by the Occupy Movement in New York City have caught the public's attention.
Not long ago, we were unsure about what the Millennials are up to. This generation, however, is now leading many of the social movements challenging what they see as the status quo. Something that was part of the blame for numerous underlying issues that made us rethink development.
Some of these issues make up the theme of this series. It is set to study the problems in-common between Hong Kong and New York, two of the global financial centers with dramatically different social systems. I wondered how does Hong Kong, a former colony compare to the democratic New York City on issues like housing affordability, aging city infrastructure, social justice, tourism, immigration, elderly poverty, government accountability, upholding the rule of law, etc.? In Hong Kong, students occupied the streets calling for genuine universal suffrage and believed that democracy is the answer. Issues like the decaying infrastructure, aggressive policing, etc. in New York City make people question what has happened to the democracy in New York.
The New Yorker side of me would like to tell the Hong Konger side, “Be careful what you wish for." But when I flip it, I am seeing instances of injustice and incompetent governing in Hong Kong are trending up reaching an alarming level. For me, it has become clearer than ever that democracy is a journey. Throughout this project, I kept thinking of what Ernest Hemingway said in A Farewell to Arms, "The world breaks every one afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
- John Chee on September 28, 2015