Monday, May 21, 2012

In the Press: Prof. Gordon Mathews Talks about the Changes of Hong Kong in National Geographic

Source: National Geographic. To see the full version of the article, please click here.

Chungking Mansions is a measure of how much has changed. “There’s not much illegal except the illegals working here, many of them seeking asylum,” says Mathews, who believes that the Mansions is where Hong Kong partly fulfills its promise, echoing back to an older version of itself from the 19th and 20th centuries: the melting pot, the open port, the unfettered global bazaar. “It is the truest encapsulation of what Hong Kong was, is, and could be.”

In a Chungking Mansions curry shop, I meet a man who says he is Pakistani and asks to be called “Jack Dawson,” after Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Titanic. He says he was threatened in his former country and came to Hong Kong without proper papers. He raised a bit of capital and began selling phones, and now he moves disposable “14-day phones,” pulling down $60,000 a year. Gesturing to the stuffy hallway thronged with people coming and going, Jack Dawson says, “This is my land of dreams.”

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