The start of a new year is a time to reflect on what’s passed and look toward the future. And over Christmas, I’ve been asked a lot by friends and family whether it’s time for me to leave Hong Kong. So far my stint here has lasted almost six years. The current turmoil is likely to continue for some time: a report on the policing of the protests is expected to be published soon and elections are due in September. But does that make me want to leave? And, if so, where would I go next?
Certainly not back home to the UK. Not yet anyway. The politics is too hot and the weather too cold. Also, the sun is still rising in the East. This is meant to be the Asian century and we are only entering its third decade. Vietnam would certainly be at the top of my list. I like the food; I like the people; I like the prospects. I’ll be visiting Hanoi in April for the country’s inaugural Formula One grand prix; the street race around the Vietnamese capital is likely to become the latest milestone in the country’s rapid rise up the soft-power starting grid. But, sadly, a one-party state with no freedom of speech is no place to be a journalist.
So it seems that – for now – there’s still only one place for me in Asia. Journalists want to be on the ground where the story is. Rather than being a reason to leave, the unrest in my current home city is exactly what I signed up for. History is being made in Hong Kong; I’d be mad to leave now.