Hong Kong the Elder

I self-censored myself recently because I feared that there might be some sort of repercussion to my career if I posted the following article online.

I soon came to my senses and realised that censorship is a slippery slope downwards; one that emboldens those who wield Fear as a weapon of control.

So here I am sticking it to the man.

The British bird

With July 1 just passed, there have been rumblings in the local media about the snobbery of Hong Kongers and the inability to let go of their British colonial masters. There is even a new term for people who love this little peninsular and islands collectively known as Hong Kong – “Loyalists”.

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) mouthpiece, China Daily, has been releasing their patronizing allocutions about Hong Konger’s disrespectful attitudes towards the “Motherland”. All of these criticisms have merit, but what the CCP fail to understand is that it goes much deeper than that.

Yes, it bothers Hong Kong when busloads of visitors are bearing down on them, leaving dirty shoe prints on the seats of sit-on-top toilets. Of course, the deafening pitch of putonghua is screeched across to uncouth relatives hocking up phlegm and spitting it onto the pavements. Indeed, it is annoying when trying to get off the train at the station, because in Hong Kong society, it is convention to allow passengers off before boarding the train. It is Hong Kong convention to not barge through the crowd so that you can get a seat for yourself. It is Hong Kong convention to line up in a queue and wait your turn. It is Hong Kong convention to be courteous.

Which makes it even more fascinating that the CCP would like to convey an image of Hong Kong as the naughty child, talking back to her father. They would like to perpetuate these Confucian ideals (that the CCP once tried to eliminate, mind you) of filial piety. Yet, fail to realise that they do not represent the entire history of China; that they do not have a mandate from heaven.

The ruling party need only look across the strait to see what could have been. They forget that modern Hong Kong society was well into its own development well before their own time in power, and indeed, the establishment of Communist China spurred the diaspora of migrants that fuelled Hong Kong’s population and cultural growth (as well as Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia to name a few). Perhaps, the fact that Cantonese is a much older language, and that Hong Kong and Taiwan are the only two countries that use the traditional Chinese script suggests the true traditions have been upheld in these enclaves.

The point I’m trying to make is this: Hong Kong is older than China.

What kind of filial younger sister would lecture her older sibling?

The argument could be made that the ruling party of the land mass known as China does indeed represent China. They have the military might and the population numbers, but let us not forget that it was Britain that was gracious enough to honour their initial treaty to return Hong Kong to China. The original treaty made with the emperor of China, not the socialist state that exists today. A treaty that was null and void.

Let’s also not forget the agreement that was made on this return – 50 years of transition – at a time when the British military was still to be feared, and the Chinese one to be laughed at. It has been but 18 years, and the Hong Kong population can already feel the tightening of the power hungry grip of the one-party state.

Luckily for Hong Kong, the whole world is watching and this can only be a war of words. But as the rhetoric and propaganda about the kindness of the Party continue, Hong Kong continues to stand guard as they suppress the pages in history books. Hong Kong has witnessed what they have done and continue to do to their own people, and Hong Kong remembers.

In Hong Kong, people have been allowed to retain their Confucian traditions and beliefs without the fear of being persecuted by the red army. The British-style government looked after the people so they did not have to face famine and starvation. Hong Kongers have always been allowed to raise natural families, without constraints on the number of children a family has. Hong Kong was reasonably governed.

Many people fail to understand that Hong Kongers make a point in distinguishing themselves from Mainlanders not because of separatism, but because they see the very worst of themselves in their northern neighbours.

No, Hong Kongers are not separatist. They are actually the furthest away from being separatist. Hong Kong perches in the upper echelons of Chinese cultural development, it represents a higher culture than that of the massive country with a lagging moral development.

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