22nd February 2014
A City of China, A City of Chinese and A City of Hong Konger
Photo courtesy: Passion Times
In February 1996, Hong Kong Economic Journal quoted Ms Lo Bik-kei (English name not confirmed), a famous astrologist, that “based on astrology, ‘One-Country-Two-Systems’ is impossible. China will continue tightening its control over Hong Kong… all the freedoms will be taken away eventually, and Hong Kong will become a city of Chinese people, but an ordinary city of China… Chinese immigrants will flood into Hong Kong. The grass roots in Hong Kong will be affected substantially… China will limit press freedom.”
I am not promoting astrology here, but Ms Lo’s “forecast” of the post-handover Hong Kong has been proven correct. “Hong Kong will become a city of Chinese people, but an ordinary city of China” is the reason I quoted this old story.
When Basic Law was completed in 1996, the world know that a system that is different from that in China will be enacted in Hong Kong after the handover: Hong Kong has its independent legal system, the people of Hong Kong enjoy civil rights that the people of China do not have, and there is a certain degree of restriction on people in China coming to Hong Kong, etc. Hong Kong is not a city of China, but the people of Hong Kong have always agreed that Hong Kong is a city of (ethnic) Chinese. As Han Han, a young author from China, said two years ago “Hong Kong and Taiwan have preserved Chinese culture and the beautiful traditions and traits of this race, and preserving the core (values of the Chinese race) from a catastrophic lost”. Even though Hong Kong had been until British rule for over a hundred year, but it is a (ethnic) Chinese society which preserves Chinese traditions and virtues. Hong Kong’s economy began to boom in the 70s, the corruption-free colonial government did not only bring Hong Kong to the top of the Four Asian Tigers, but also boosted the level of civilisation in Hong Kong to international standard. People from around the world who visited Hong Kong adore it and many even decided to live in Hong Kong. Hong Kong people had been extremely friendly and polite to visitors from around the world.
After 1997, Hong Kong remained largely unchanged for quite some time. Public poll shows that even though the people of Hong Kong were discontent with the SAR government for various reasons, but remained confident in China government and “One-Country-Two-System”. In a book written by Ms Chow Chung-wah (English name not confirmed), it began with Hong Kong people’s identity. She said that when she was asked where she is from in other countries, she would say Hong Kong. Then people would ask, “Hong Kong has been handed over to China, so you should be Chinese. So what is your nationality?” She had no choice but to say she is Chinese because there is no such nationality as “Hong Kong”, and the word “Hong Kongese” does not exist in dictionary. However, she said, “I have a sense of attachment on the “Hong Kong people” identity. After all, from the air we breathe to the land we walk, are very different (from those in China).” This probably sums up how the majority of Hong Kong people feel.
Recently, the word “Hong Konger” has emerged. This word is often used verbally instead of in written form. China government is speeding up its pace in turning Hong Kong into a city of Chinese and a city of China from all levels: political, economical, social, and we must not forget the increase of Chinese immigrants. China’s mouthpieces stopped talking about “Two-Systems”, but stress on “One-Country”, demanding Hong Kong people not to focus on the Basic Law but to respect and obey China’s constitution. Some people in Hong Kong are happily cooperating with the Chinese Communist Party, and claim that Hong Kong should allow Chinese from China to enter Hong Kong without imposing any control simply because Hong Kong is a city of China, no different from any other cities in China. They stress that it is a “human right” for Chinese to go to Hong Kong to travel and live, and such “human right” must be defended. On the contrary, the living space amongst the ordinary citizens of Hong Kong is being suppressed by the massive amount of Chinese tourists and colonists. As a surviving instinct, Hong Kong people do not only refuse the idea of turning “a city of (ethnic) Chinese” to “a city of China”, but also began to stress that Hong Kong is “a city of Hong Konger” and Hong Kong people should have priorities (in terms of public resources). This is when the word “Hong Konger” started to become popular. Netizens shared a photo taken at a newsagent located on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, a very busy street, in which a sign was posted saying “Please do not ask for direction (written in simplified Chinese)”. The reason for such sign is obvious: the owner of the newsagent had had thousands of Chinese tourists asking him for direction every day, and is tired of it. Is this the way Hong Kong people treated tourists in the old days? Where did this drastic change come from? Could we really point our finger at the newsagent owner? Perhaps we should try to put ourselves in the owner’s shoe.
Who are the people that shop at the luxurious product shops in Canton Road and Tsim Sha Tsui – are they the ones that suffer from the massive disparity between rich and poor in China? Hong Kongers are generally friendly and nice to tourists from the West, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, except Chinese. Was the latest protest (labelled as “anti-locusts” protest) targeting anyone else?
Not long ago, Yan Lianke, a renowned author in China, said in an interview with Southern Weekend that, “the word ‘desire’ is not even close to accurately summarise the moral and mental status of the modern Chinese people (in China). Today, we are all surrounded by desires and ‘evil desires’. What are ‘evil desires’? For example, it could be desire that drives us to steal an apple; but going to steal the entire apple tree and plant it in our own backyard is not a desire, but evil desire. Evil desire means that the entire society is in a limbo of sin and crime. The faster the society develops, the more evil thoughts and evil actions people would have… Even if you can live to your 90s, you will not likely to find someone (in China) who would be willing to donate his entire wealth to the society just like Bill Gate did. This problem is not insolated in any single individual, but afflicts the whole society… In this extremely complicated society that is developing at the same time, there is close to no safe places for anybody (in China).”
Should Hong Kong fight against its “destiny” of becoming “a city of China” and remain as “a city of Hong Konger”, when China is where “the entire society is in a limbo of sin and crime”? This is a question of reality to everyone that has a sense of social responsibility.
By Lee Yee