• Misguided youngsters who say city is separate from mainland have been failed by their elders, not Beijing, and as members of a lost generation are rightfully angry
Millennials shouldn’t for one moment think mindlessly blaming and fighting China will bring about a bright future for themselves and the city. The reality is the opposite. Photo: AP

Our millennials like to say: "Hong Kong is not China." We all know what they mean, even though its grammatical meanings allow for ambiguity so as to deny charges of separatism. But what they really mean is pure fantasy.

Here's the reality, though it is understandably hard for such people to swallow: "Hong Kong is not Taiwan."

There is no Taiwan Strait to separate the two sides, with the island armed to the teeth, and protected by a United States security guarantee to defend it in the event of it being attacked.

Hong Kong is completely connected to the rest of China through land, air and sea. Even the US recognises Hong Kong as a part of China. There is no scenario under which the city could lead a separate existence, however you define it, from the mainland. Or rather, there is a single scenario: national collapse and/or foreign invasion.

Young, educated, middle class: Study reveals protester demographics

In that case, Hong Kong would not fare well, either.

How did our millennials become so misguided? They are a lost cause and a lost generation; we old-timers have failed them. We have raised them with expectations of good careers and high living standards, and fill their heads with poorly understood Western values and ideas; yet we have denied them both social mobility and Western-style democracy in the past 20 years.

We have dug a big hole for them. But they are digging it deeper for themselves; and many of us are urging them on, telling them to fight a war they cannot hope to win, for ideals they cannot possibly realise.

Fear grips international students as tensions run high over Hong Kong protests

We have created a perfect trap for the young. Whether they resist or comply, play the rebel or the good child, many of them will fall short. So of course, they are angry, and they are right to be.

But please, don't for one moment think mindlessly blaming and fighting China will improve their situation, or bring about a just society and a bright future for themselves and the city. The reality is the opposite.

The mainland is not responsible for Hong Kong's own lost generation. Beijing didn't fail them; we did. To survive and prosper, young Hongkongers need to give up their mistaken notions and start exploring opportunities up north. It's a country on the go, not a place mired in stasis.

Alternatively, move to Taiwan if it's Western-style democracy you want.

Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Comment 0