Bauhinia Astrology – The Symbolism of Hong Kong’s Flag

For nation states, but also regions, cities, unions or sports clubs flags are an important source of identity. They are full of symbolism that aims not just to portrait and reflect, but also to create the values of the people they are supposed to represent. There usually are no coincidences when it comes to flags, and every little detail is carefully thought of.

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The Opening of the Umbrella

The events around Sunday, 28 September 2014, when the police repeatedly used tear gas against peaceful student protesters in Admiralty and Central are well documented, as are the days after, when Hong Kong appeared on the radar of a larger international audience, with even James Nachtwey, a veteran photojournalist who made his name on the streets of Thailand, Iraq and Northern Ireland being spotted on the streets of Hong Kong.

But this movement wasn’t expected, it wasn’t even planned. It took the organizers almost as much by surprise as the police, and most of all it caught the international media completely off guard who were almost completely unrepresented until students were being met with tear gas. Sadly they can now only speculate to what galvanized a student strike into an internationally recognized popular movement.

I would like to add my own account of the events between September 25 and 28, which I find crucial to understanding the movement’s origins.

A student leader giving a motivational speech ahead of an expected standoff with police

A student leader giving a motivational speech ahead of an expected standoff with police

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Foreign Spies and China’s Internal Affairs

Chances are that if you don’t look Chinese and engage in any activities critical of the Chinese government or its many affiliates you will at some point be accused of being a foreign spy. If you are an actual spy, which includes anybody working for an organization at least partially funded or endorsed by a foreign government, you will be accused of ‘meddling with China’s internal affairs’, which we can only guess is some kind of treason. Continue reading

Hallstatt, Guangdong, PR China

When developers in the People’s Republic of China revealed their replica of the Austrian town of Hallstatt [Wikipedia] they got a lot of attention [Spiegel International] [Reuters] [China Daily], from abroad at least. The act reaffirmed common stereotypes, ranging from Chinese being notorious copycats, their love for kitsch and gigantomania. What made it worse is that Europeans generally have an inexplicable pride for their national treasures, while at the same time being a little bit insecure about whether they should be. After all, many of these places have been created hundreds of years ago.

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Wholesale Food Markets

The two largest wholesale food markets are in 長沙灣 Cheung Sha Wan in Kowloon and 西環 Sai Wan on Hong Kong Island. The one in Cheung Sha Wan opens everyday around midnight and closes around dawn, while most of the business is conducted between 2 and 4 am. It has a section for frozen fish, live fish and vegetables, though on the day I visited the entire story above the vegetable market was occupied with boxes of salted duck eggs and preserved eggs.
The frozen-fish mongers are not too friendly, they will not understand why you find dead fish so exciting and probably perceive you mainly as an obstacle in their busy nightly routine, though who knows what other goods are routed through this market that you are not supposed to see.
When you go, make sure to go to the car park on top of the market, as from there you’ll have a great overview over the busy markets and the cargo pier.

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Building New Apartments

The growth in apartments in Hong Kong is very slow, much slower than the growth of the overall population, which grows by about 0.4% per year. Between April 2012 and March 2013, the government sold land worth 50 bio HK$ with a size of 256,167.5 m², an area of about 500 by 500 meters, which is about 1.3 times the size of Victoria Park. Given the size of Hong Kong’s developed area, that estimates to a growth of 0.1%. A city where the population grows four times as fast as the inhabited area is bound to have a serious issue about the affordability of apartments.

Looking south-west from Shek Kip Mei over newly developed West Kowloon.

Looking south-west from Shek Kip Mei over newly developed West Kowloon.

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