16th August 2013
Why “You are Chinese too” is the Worst Insult?
By Lewis Loud
In recent years, people of Hong Kong began to say “you are Chinese too” is the worst insult. It is not just because Chinese people’s uncivilised behaviours overseas and crimes they committed within China destroy the image of ethnic Chinese and everyone that share similar skin tone of Mainland Chinese. This also involves the national identity issue in Hong Kong. This issue has not been “resolved” since 1911.
We hate the phase “We are all Chinese” because “Chinese” is an empty word and not appropriate to use for referencing people. The word “Chinese” covers a extremely wide range of things. The so-called “China” is over 9,000,000km² and the regional difference is huge within China. Guangdong people are very different from North-East Chinese: their cultures, environment, customs, languages and religions are all completely different. These differences cannot be changed. A mono political system (after speaking with the author of this article, this refers to imperialism) may not be able to manage the multicultural regional differences. Hence, in history, China always crumbles from the central government and regional forces raise. By calling all of these people in China “Chinese” is simply forcing an identity onto others and erase their original identities.
“Chinese” is a mono-concept. There was no such thing called “Chinese”. The so-called “Chinese” were Han, Manchu, Tibetan, Uyghur and Mongolian in terms of race. In terms of province, people used to address themselves as Guangdong, Hokan, Jiangsu, Peking, Manchurian but rarely “Chinese”. The old “China” is the “world” to the people within the “China” boundary. After the western world came into the picture, the “world” expanded, and “the people in China” will need an identity. Until the war (against the west) is won, all races have to temporarily drop their individual identities and the differences and unit as “Chinese” to face the world.
“Chinese race” or “Chinese” is a political concept derived from an opened “China” as its reach expands to the world. However, internally, if people from all races in “China” are deliberately branded as “Chinese” (a conceptual term), conflicts will arise. This is essentially saying “you and I are the same”. By imprinting such concept onto all races within the same country, subjectiveness of individuals will be triggered which may backfire.
“Chinese” is an identity for external use and an overall broad description. When dealing with people within China and regional conflicts, Guangdong people and Hong Kongers are simply different. It is crucial to acknowledge this reality. Perhaps “Chinese” are too used to the Soviet’s style political propaganda, and see “one China” as the only commandment, and forgot about the fact that “China” had never been one united country. During the imperial time, unity was never the focus, and each province/county had its own system. No political system, except one that’s constantly in the mode of revolution and preparing itself for enemies’ invasion, would be obsessed with eliminating differences and unification.
(The editors did not translate some of the paragraphs of this article which referenced to some Chinese language stories/books as examples to illustrate the points above)