By William Ong.

It is practically impossible to predict the future of China. Everything is kept behind closed doors by the Communist Party. There have been countless predictions, good and bad, from so-called China experts and it seems like anyone who has spent a bit of time in China, either for work or on a visit, is a China expert.

I do not pretend to know everything about China and I am not privy to the inner circles of the people running the country. Nor am I close buddies with the wealthy establishment, or even the newly-rich middle class, though in terms of the latter, I do know and have had many conversations with quite a few of them, socially and through business.

After a decade spent in China, trying to do business and getting nowhere, I have arrived at some conclusions about the future of this region. I am not saying that my predictions are accurate and will definitely come true but I do believe some of this will happen. Of course, you do not have to agree – these are my personal thoughts, gathered from my adventures in the Middle Kingdom.

National People’s Congress
National People’s Congress. Photo: VOA

Will China be broken up and go the way of Russia?

Yes and no. As the Chinese saying has it – the mountains are high and the Emperor is far away. I believe that in time China will be broken up into three regions – North, Central and South. The North will be controlled by Beijing, the Central by Shanghai and the South, by either Shenzhen or Guangzhou.

Even so, China will remain under the rule of the Communist Party and will not adopt Western democracy or styles of governance. There is too much at stake for the ruling elite and the wealthy to make any drastic changes. The breakup will be more of a necessity, to ensure China’s growth and to feed and clothe the growing population and meet the demands of the people.

What about Hong Kong?

I love Hong Kong. I love the food and I admire the resilient spirit of Hong Kong people. But the writing is on the wall. Slowly but surely, Hong Kong’s role as an international city and financial centre will be usurped by Shanghai. There are already distinct moves promoting Shanghai as the next Hong Kong – the creation of the FTZ being one of them.

Beijing sees Hong Kong as a thorn in its side. It may be ‘One Party Two Systems’ but the recent unrest, the Occupy Central movement, the declining flow of mainland Chinese tourists and many more incidents have tested the patience of the CCP.

china hong kong one country two systems
National Day 2016. Photo: GovHK.

So the question is: what will happen to Hong Kong? Unfortunately I cannot predict that, but if things do carry on the way they are, I feel very sad for this vibrant city. I believe that sooner or later it will have to completely kowtow to Beijing and toe the line. I believe that those who can will depart these shores and head for the UK, Canada, Australia and other destinations.

What about the mainland Chinese?

It is at the same time funny and revealing that I know many, many mainland Chinese professionals, business people and members of the middle class who are buying residential properties in Australia, the UK, Canada and the USA, while at the same time lauding the brilliance of China and its ruling party, and saying that it is timely and rightful that China should take centre stage in world affairs.

Do they know something that others don’t? This segment of the Chinese populace has the means and the wherewithal to leave China should things turn sour and I believe that they are preparing for this and hedging their bets.

Do not be surprised to see an influx of Putonghua-speaking Chinese families settling in the West, bringing with them their wealth, customs and lifestyles. Will these new arrivals be good for Western nations? One thing is for sure, they will not be a burden on their host countries as these will be arrivals with financial means.

It will definitely change the demographic landscape. With many Westerners’ negative views of China, how will these new arrivals be greeted by the indigenous natives?

university students china

In the past, the Chinese were well-known for politeness and keeping themselves to themselves, not wanting to cause any issues or problems wherever they lived and worked. But we are now talking about a different generation – one that has been quite spoilt and is more demanding.

Will they or can they integrate with the host nation’s peoples? I am sure they will experience culture shock and will find it difficult to adjust to living as a minority in their newly adopted homelands.

The Third World War has already begun

Nostradamus predicted that the 3rd World War would take the form of wars between various nations and religions. This has already happened and is still happening – Islamic State, Iraq, Iran, USA, Russia, East Europe, Africa – we see and read news about this every day.

But do you realise that there is another World War? Backed by the world’s second biggest economy, her Supreme Commander and second in command have been traversing the globe, bringing with them golden Trojan Horses filled with goodies.

In the background, messages and shows of strength of their military might have been put on for the world, as if saying that if you do not receive our advance party, look what’s coming next.

tianmen square, zhong nan hai
Tiananmen Square. Photo:

This World War is fought not with military might and weapons but with economic clout. If and when trouble back in their homeland brews because of the worldwide slowdown and perhaps another recession, there will be social unrest. What will the leaders do then?

It will not be pleasant and it will affect the whole world. It will be Tiananmen again but this time across the major cities in China. And that goes back to my theory – will China be broken up?


So when will all these events happen? It won’t be tomorrow or next week, that I can safely predict. It may not happen during my lifetime either – age-wise I am past the half decade so may not live to see all these changes.

If they do happen during this next generation or so, then I would be very pleased to see if my predictions, albeit not all of them, are accurate. But I also know that if all these events do come to pass, there will be more challenging problems for many of us and especially so for the younger generations.

We live in interesting times.

William Ong, who was born in Singapore and migrated to the UK in the 90s, was a product of the 1960’s Coca Cola Generation.  Having worked and travelled extensively in many parts of the world, William first visited China in 2004 and has lived and worked there for the last decade.  William feels that he may have a British passport but his heart still beats Chinese.

Guest contributors for Hong Kong Free Press.