Taipan reflects: Hong Kong is burning
Over my many years in Hong Kong, I have seen a lot. I've watched the city go from being a British colony to become part of China. I've seen a real estate boom and luxury shopping replace old local stores. I've seen protests and political turmoil. But all that has little prepared me for what has happened here this week.
My home has become a war zone. It sounds flippant to say that, but never before have I seen smoke and the fumes of tear gas cloud the city as they have in recent days. Walking through Central is almost out of the question, as black-clad protesters fill the streets, clashing with police officers who seem as willing to wield their batons as Tai Tai is a paper fan on a hot day.
The conflict has left Hong Kong's streets torn up, with bricks strewn around and bamboo poles blocking traffic. Businesses have shuttered, and those with Chinese ties or unsympathetic owners risk having their windows broken and wares set ablaze.
The turmoil has quite literally touched us all in some way or another.
I was shocked to hear from a friend who I met for coffee at BOC Tower on Monday that some bankers are joining the protests on their lunch breaks. As I walked out of the building, the security team was putting metal bars on the windows and doors, locking the bankers in and the violence out. One of the security detail nodded to me as I left, and said: "Be safe out there."
I hope all of Hong Kong heeds his advice.