While the ongoing protests are primarily about political freedoms, Matt O’Brien observes that the island has “already seen what being subsumed by the mainland means economically. And it’s had enough of that”:
It’s true that China’s growth has been good for Hong Kong’s—especially their retailers—but it hasn’t been as good for their relative standard of living. Not only have the richest mainlanders caught, or even surpassed, them, but now those Chinese are pushing up their cost-of-living and snatching up everything from their stores. That’s why Hong Kongers say the mainlanders are “locusts” who come in, take everything, and then leave—and with bad manners, too. Indeed, it set off a social media firestorm this year when a mainland parent was caught letting their two year-old urinate in one of Hong Kong’s streets. In other words, it’s the same old story of old money versus the nouveau riche.
But Yglesias attributes Hong Kong’s recent economic slump, which may also play a part in driving the protest movement, to the absence of these rich mainlanders: