Social and Political Situatuion of Hong Kong

Hong Kong became part of China in 1997 after 150 years of British rule, and in 1999, Macao followed suite after 400 years of Portuguese rule. The Chinese People, promoted by the government propaganda, are extremely proud of both reunions.

China promised “fifty years no change” to the socio-political and economic system in Hong Kong, and in general is keeping its word, though some controversial laws concerning subversion and sedition (Article 23 of the Basic Law) led to massive street demonstrations protesting this threat to freedom. Half a million people, almost 10% of the population, took to the streets to signal their displeasure.

Like the rest of Asia, Hong Kong suffered in the economic crisis of 1997-2002. Then it took another blow in 2003 when it was hit by the SARS epidemic. Finally in 2004, the economy began growing again and this rich city of seven million very busy people is still a kind of engine to the economy of the area that has not decreased with the growth of Shanghai, but on the contrary, has grown by mutual cooperation. China is very interested in the success of Hong Kong, for with this “one country, two systems” model, it hopes to woo Taiwan back into the embrace of the motherland.

In Hong Kong the Church is strong, well organized and vibrant. There are 240,000 Catholics, about 3.4% of the population, a high figure in the Chinese context. Caritas is the most important charitable institution in Hong Kong. There are Catholic schools everywhere, mostly connected with the local parishes, mainly because the land is so expensive in such a crowded place, that having Churches only for religious purposes would be an unaffordable luxury. There are many adults' baptisms every year; the laity has an active role with many opportunities to get a good formation. The major problem is the scarcity of local vocations, mostly due to the small number of children in each family. The Church is relying on foreign priests, among them the SVD missionaries, but that is not a healthy situation in the long run.