City of Bad OmensIssue: Fall 1998
As every schoolboy would once have known, traditionally the Chinese
have believed that a dynasty reigns because it has been vouchsafed
divine approval--the Mandate of Heaven. According to this belief,
extensive natural or man-made catastrophes demonstrate that the
Mandate has been revoked, and that the reigning dynasty will soon
fall. Natural catastrophes began in Hong Kong the instant the regime
appointed by Beijing to succeed British rule took office in July 1997.
It rained continually for months. Landslides swept away buildings and
imperiled lives. The people slipped into dejection under the
seemingly endless rain pelting down day after day. The business slump
had already begun and was soon to dip--and then plunge--further. But
initially it was the weather, not the economy, that depressed the
people of the new Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's
Republic of China.