Scan your favorite news site and you will see a world in chaos. The US is a divided nation. Its crisis of leadership is painfully clear with ideological factions, more so than opposing sides, drawing the lines of a balkanizing civil war on its horizon. In Europe, the Iron Curtain looks to be rising back up, but this time, not to keep people in; but just to keep some of those neo-Western, nation-dividing ideas out. Dutch farmers, protesting a government policy to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by forcing them to slaughter 30 percent of their cattle herds, have been ignored by the Western media complex, and Britain is changing leadership for the second time since 2019.
The Western media complex is itself facing a crisis of credibility as Eastern sources who decided to retain objectivity, and social media news outlets not only outperform the legacy media, but also show them to be outright lying time and again. From the vantage point of the peaceful Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the world looks to be a giant mess to those like me who pay attention. And within the quagmire the rest of world has fallen into, one notion stands out, and at a glance, appears to unite the focus of all the various issues: that all their problems stem from China, Russia or Iran. Which, to anyone who practices actual critical thinking, is quite simply not even remotely true.
What is true is that despite what the Western media complex or reputed social media news sites report on Russia, China or, as many of both former and latter, like to falsely characterize as “China-occupied Hong Kong”, this little ex-fishing village turned global powerhouse remains a city where societal harmony is, and always has been, a treasured social virtue. Hong Kong remains diverse, yet without the ideological and stark racial divisions that plague the West. It enjoys a high quality of life without denying dignity to its poorer residents. And the future looks bright, despite what naysayers (local and foreign) report.
The last point on Hong Kong’s bright future is cause for much debate, but a glance at 2022’s global International Baccalaureate (IB) results supports the idea that this city’s future leaders and residents will continue to nurture a safe, diverse and harmonious city. Hong Kong’s average IBDP scores for local and international schools not only remained at least 5 points higher than the global average, but also saw two local schools, St Paul’s Co-educational College and Diocesan Boys’ School, achieving global recognition for achieving the highest and third-highest scores respectively in mathematics. In all, Hong Kong students averaged 38.36/45, while the global average was 31.98/45. This, despite what the Western media has implied as “Nazi-like” conditions imposed on the residents of Hong Kong by Beijing’s “heavy-handed” governance, or merely the conjecture of its potential to do so.
To those familiar with the IB Diploma curriculum, the Asia-Pacific region forms only 22.8 percent of IB programs offered worldwide, and Hong Kong’s English Schools Foundation only completed its transition to the IB curriculum in 2009. And within that short time, the IB has spread locally, and it has already surpassed the global average. These figures don’t suggest Hong Kong remaining anything other than what it has been — a recognized global Chinese city that actively attracts, nurtures and develops competence and talent from the rest of the world. And yet, the idea that Hong Kong is in a state of decline persists, with Beijing as the “culprit” for why. To those who paid attention to geopolitics long before the Trump era briefly halted the Western media complex’s actual decline, the question remains: Why the sudden China-hate and the gloom for its cities?
History offers a lot of potential answers. One was put forth by Harvard political scientist Graham Allison in 2015, when he identified 16 examples from history in which a major rising power was threatened to be displaced by another rising power. Twelve of which resulted in preemptive war that saw both civilizations losing power, or destroyed, to various degrees. He termed this pattern the “Thucydides Trap”, after the fifth-century BC Athenian military general who, in describing the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens, famously said, “It was the rise of Athens and fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.”
It is telling that Graham characterizes nations falling into this pattern as a “trap”. He puts forth that the 16 examples his team at Harvard found in 2015, with the most recent being World War I, as all being “great misjudgments of history”. Which means it is possible that what we are watching is the West trying to manifest the 17th example, and it can’t do so without an enemy. Which also means, it could be possible, that Graham’s examples, while valid, are also projections of Western thought onto the very Eastern philosophies of peace and harmony over war. Time will tell when 2022’s local IB graduates find themselves at the reigns of social power in Hong Kong, and perhaps, on the Chinese mainland too.
The author is a writer, columnist and historian based in Hong Kong.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS