19th October 2013
New & Old Chinese and New & Old Hong Konger
Since the advertisement calling for CY Leung’s resignation published in newspaper in September, media that are sided with or backed by the China Communist Party have been criticising the ideology behind and began to promote the concept of “New Hong Konger”. The overseas edition of People’s Daily published an article “Hong Kong’s Development Requires ‘New Hong Konger'”, and said that in history Hong Kong has always been an immigrant society, to retort those who request the reduction of new immigrants from China. The article stated that the overall education level of new immigrants have improved and can become the new elites of Hong Kong, hence Hong Kong needs this type of “New Hong Konger”.
However, “New Hong Konger” and “Old Hong Konger” are different. Based on history, there is no doubt that Hong Kong had been an immigrant society. The “Old Hong Kongers” are mainly “Old Chinese” emigrated from China, but they are quite different from the “New Chinese” who have recently emigrated to Hong Kong as “New Hong Kongers”.
Not long ago, there are reports about anchor babies went to the New Territories demanding kindergartens to interview them in Mandarin, more recently China students from City University who enrolled into a “Cantonese lectures” demanded lecturer to teach in Mandarin. The City University’s lecturer had no choice but to teach in Cantonese first and repeat each sentence in Mandarin immediately. The local Hong Kong students reached their maximum level of tolerance, and the dispute between Hong Kong and China students began. Such reporting was circulated amongst the media in China, and became a hot topic online. Global Times, a mouthpiece of the China Communist Party, joint the debate soon after, backing the students from China, and blamed the issue on Hong Kong media. The publication said that “demanding (China) students to be able to understand Cantonese at the beginning of a term is unrealistic”. These China students are “New Chinese”. This incident reminded me of an elder who said that when he was studying in Peking during early years of China Republic (as opposed to People’s Republic of China), famous scholars including Wang Kuo-wei (or Wang Guowei) and Huang Jie were teaching a Qinghua University. Both of them have very thick accent that many students could not understand a word they say. However, all students would remain silent during the lectures with patience and try to understand, and asked their fellow classmates after class. They would not demand their lecturers to speak fluent Mandarin. Those are the “Old Chinese”.
Two years before the China Communist Party was in power, I lived in Peking. In general, people in Peking were humble, sincere, police and humourious, which gave me a strong impression. “Old Chinese” have the weakness of being overly obedient, but they all have the unconscious mentality of “do as you would be done by”. However, the “Old Chinese” society had been replaced by the “New Chinese” society where “everything is fake”.
“Old Chinese” who emigrated to Hong Kong years ago are nowadays “Old Hong Konger”. These “Old Chinese” respect the tradition of “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. No matter which province they came from, once the arrived in Hong Kong, they would start to learn Cantonese and English. They respect and cherish Hong Kong’s rule of law and freedoms, and strive to correct their bad habits they inherited in China, in order to integrate into the Hong Kong modern society.
When commenting Lao Sze-Kwang, a renowned philosopher, after he passed away, Cheung Man Yee, former Director of Broadcasting, said that she could barely understood his Hunan accent back in the days during lecture, but respected him during classes and enjoyed his lectures as best as she could. In those days, Hong Kongers do not demand their lecturers to speak Cantonese either.
Nowadays, however, there are only a handful of students in China who share the respected their ancestors had for teachers, but they respect power. They view studying in Hong Kong as a “mercy” they offered to Hong Kong. Targeting the Hong Kong media that support Hong Kong students, netizens in China said, “shout as you pleased! You will have no more energy to shout when all the Chinese stop going to Hong Kong for school, shopping and travel.”
We truly wish we could go back to the days when we have “no energy to shout”. The major difference between a life under a tyrannical regime and a life under the rule of law is that the former cannot control one’s faith, whilst the latter rely on oneself with the shield of law. The former claim to be equal but in fact it was under special power “some are more equal than others”, the latter enjoy equal opportunities safeguarded by law of law. “Old Chinese” cherish the equal opportunities in Hong Kong, but “New Chinese” are different. They are used to rely on power to survive and win, especially in the past 30 years or so when those in power who have been living a capitalism world invested all their lives in money and power. Those with power and money are always right, and have no respect for others’ freedoms and rights, and have no respects for universal values which are intangible. Once they leave a tyrannical regime, they would say that Communist China is a tyranny, yet they hope to rely on the absolute power of China’s tyranny to benefit themselves in Hong Kong. All the recent issues and disputes in Hong Kong are in a certain degree relevant to the problems arose by these “New Chinese” who come to Hong Kong via individual travel visas or emigrated to Hong Kong. Hence, the “Old Hong Konger” and their offspring, especially the new generation who cherish Hong Kong’s core value, want to stop the influx of “New Hong Konger”, in order to reduce the number of immigrants from source and retake the right to approve immigration applications submitted by “New Chinese” . Horace Chin Wan wrote an article pointing out that new immigrants coming from China are not really “new immigrants” but “new colonists” because these “New Hong Kongers” think that they come from a strong country and “from a stronger culture and refuse to accept Hong Kong culture, or even want to change Hong Kong culture and demand Hong Konger to speak Northern language (Mandarin) to accommodate them.”
Obviously, not “New Chinese” are the same – it takes all kind. However, “New Chinese” are entering Hong Kong with approval from China only, is indeed a source of all the problems in Hong Kong these days. This is an objective fact and not discrimination. If Hong Konger do not stand tall to fight against “re-colonisation”, one day Hong Kong will not be able to resist the invasion and fall.
Lee Yee- Public Affairs Commentator