The mean wage in Hong Kong not much more than $2,000 per month (a Croatian acquaintance who works there cited the same numbers half a year ago). Its surprising come to think of it, but that means that Muscovites – where salaries are $1,500 per month but multiplied by almost twice – are substantially more prosperous (for instance, renting a one bedroom apartment in the center of Hong Kong would take up the entire average salary). To extend our comparative purview, it would suggest that the average Pole is about as prosperous as the average Hong Konger, while not even the average Russian is all that far behind.
Closer to home in East Asia, this would suggest that the denizens of “Tier 1” Chinese cities now live comparably well to Hong Kongers. And Chinese elites in those cities live much better than their Hong Kong equivalents. A commenter at this blog has told me that higher end professionals, such as well-qualified engineers or Fortune 500 company managers, can make almost American-level wages there but at Chinese costs of living. And in Singapore – the other cosmopolitan city-sized trading hub of East Asia – wages are almost twice those of Hong Kong.
I did not get the impression that my Croatian acquaintance was impressed with Hong Kong. Apart from the material inadequacies, it is also a cultural disappointment. He claimed that his home city in Croatia (not even Zagreb, but their second or third city) had a more diverse musical scene than Hong Kong, even though it has almost twice as many people as all of Croatia. Since he also has a side interest in futurism/transhumanism like myself, I was amused to learn that the equivalent community in Hong Kong is… all made up of expats.
This is the material and cultural context to spandrell’s take that the protests are Hong Kongers’ despairing reaction to lost status. “But at least we have muh democracy!”