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A Father-Son Split on Hong Kong Protests Shows City’s Generational Divide

But about a decade ago, he noticed the dynamic changing. His siblings were starting to become wealthier. They bought bigger apartments. They had good government pensions. They were no longer so interested in visiting Hong Kong. Recently, when he asked them before the Mid-Autumn Festival if they wanted mooncakes from Hong Kong, he was stung when they said no.

“Now their lives are better than mine,” Mr. Wong said wistfully. “If I had known back then how developed China would become, I never would have left.”

Mr. Wong’s community of mainland escapees in Hong Kong remains closely connected. Many knew each other as children growing up back in Guangdong; others met later in Hong Kong, through friends or through work. Now in their 60s and 70s, most of them retired, they gather regularly for dim sum, Ping-Pong sessions and mah-jongg tournaments.

But the recent turmoil in Hong Kong has exposed a new fault line within this typically tight-knit community. Though most escapees initially fled to Hong Kong in search of economic freedom, many, like Wu Hay-wing, a retired truck driver, say they’ve come to wholeheartedly cherish the political freedoms they found once they arrived. Unlike Mr. Wong, the cellphone accessories seller, some in his group regularly join the protests.

“The essence of the Communist Party has never changed — it is a totalitarian regime,” said Mr. Wu, 68, who made it to Hong Kong in an improvised boat.

Mr. Wu said he feared that Hong Kong would soon become just another mainland city.

“If that happens, what did I escape here for then?” said Mr. Wu. “All my efforts would have been for nothing.”

Still, there is a certain degree of nostalgia for the motherland. Many, even those who identify now as Hong Kongers, still maintain close ties with relatives on the mainland and make regular trips across the border. Some made large fortunes by leveraging their ties with the mainland.

Source: NYT > World News

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