Sunday, 5 March 2017

Cheng Lap: Why Do We Need Our Country?

Why Do We Need Our Country?
Translated by Peggy, edited by Chen-t'ang, written by Cheng Lap

There is something we always cherish. Unfortunately, we cannot protect them alone. Yet, we want to protect them as best as we can. That is the reason we need our own country. If the country cannot protect what you value, that is not your country. 

There is something one always value. They can be our life, our family, our home, our property, our privacy, our freedom of action and speech, our interest in land and our language, our culture, our religion, as well as our collective memory and our lifestyle. 

We always want to live in a stable environment. We want to speak in our own mother tongue. We also want our friends and relatives speaking in mother language. We want our life are adequately protected. We can live in a safe and comfortable home. We can eat what we like to eat. We can earn a living and enjoy leisure. We want our belief and religion are respected and passed on. 

We want to preserve the films, the books, the places and shops that we encountered at our young age. And we hope they are still there when we are old. We want to provide support for our elderly. Although our memories are fading, we still hope they can become legacies. Although life is short, we still hope all the good memories can last much longer than our life. They can last forever. They can tell the times we live and the culture we share. And they will not be all gone and forgotten.  

From wealth to feeling, emotion and memory, these build our “own self”. They are integral to our life. If they are lost, we will be really upset. That is why we do not want to lose them because they are so important to us. 

If we are alone, we are weak. We do not have enough power to protect things we value. Our life will be endangered by violence. Our property will be usurped. Our freedom will be lost under fear and threat. Our native tongue will be losing slowly if we lose control of education and media. 

These are the things we want to protect. Unfortunately, we cannot protect them alone. Yet, we want to protect them as best as we can. That is the reason we need our own country.

 “Our country” is the institution that is established to protect these things we value. Law exists to protect our life and property. Education passes on our mother language and custom to the next generation. Constitution protects our freedom and rights. Country gathers the power little by little from every one of us. It can be in term of tax or duty. In return, the country protects things we cherish, and enable our lifestyle to continue, develop and last forever. 

You may think that “your nationality reflects your country”. But that is just wrong. If the country does not protect things you cherish, it is not your country. You are just ruled by a country that you don’t belong to and you are only subject to its authority. 

Another country might have very good governance, but after all it is not your country. You may emigrate to a developed Western country. However, if your mother tongue is not the official language there, it is hard to ask them to protect and promote your mother tongue. 

If there is a country that despises your mother tongue, and it even deprives you of your property, threatens your life, destroys your family, eliminates your culture and belief, smears your collective memory, makes you feel unsafe and deprives you of the freedom, that country is not your country even you hold the citizenship of that country by birth. Unfortunately, you are just a slave without dignity. You are like consumable resources that can be sacrificed anytime. 

You are weak and you need to be protected. That is the reason you need your own country. If you do not have your country, you have no dignity. The things you value will not be protected. Even you are obedient, you are doomed to have miserable life and live sadly at old age. 

You need a country. Country exists because it is responsible to you.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

[Film Critic] When Hong Kong Laughed at China

[Film Critic] When Hong Kong Laughed at China
Written by Sean Tierney

I recently re-watched Her Fatal Ways, the 1990 comedy starring Carol ‘Dodo’ Cheng as Sister Cheng, a mainland security officer sent to Hong Kong with her cousin, played by writer/director Alfred Cheung, on official police business. Watching the movie now, more than 25 years later, it’s interesting to see the way China and Chinese people from the mainland were, and were portrayed. In 1990, Hong Kong was certainly far ahead of China in many ways. It was easy to look down on mainlanders as uncouth bumpkins, or at least to be benevolently patronizing. Today, the difference gap has closed in many ways.

Her Fatal Ways opens with Sister Cheng and Cousin Shing arriving in Hong Kong by bus. Our first glimpse of Sister Cheng is of her hand, which holds a cigarette. She smokes while singing a patriotic song. A fellow passenger spits on the floor, hitting Cousin Shing’s foot. He responds with profanity. Sister Cheng then chimes in with a brief lesson on the etiquette of spitting, which ends no better than the first incident. In the span of less than a minute, the film has illustrated its protagonists using the stereotypes of the day.  

While simple, bludgeoning parody would have been the easy way out, Albert Cheung (who appears in the film as Cheng’s cousin) lampoons virtually all sides of the political and cultural sphere. Sister Cheng’s Hong Kong professional counterpart is Inspector Wu, played by ‘Big’ Tony Leung (Leung Kar Fai). He’s a young, urbane police detective who dresses stylishly (for the time). It turns out that Wu’s father is an unrepentant Nationalist. Sparks inevitably fly, but so do laughs and the discovery of common ground.
Hong Kong has always been a dynamic city that changes with breathtaking speed. But no one could have foreseen the scope and speed of social and cultural change in China. Sister Cheng seems like the ghost of another age, and indeed she is. I remember meeting people from the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and they were in many ways just like her; marveling at many of the things around them while steadfastly holding to the ideology that told them how wrong it all was. A young person from today’s China would understandably find Her Fatal Ways offensive. They might find the characterization insulting, overblown, or inaccurate. But for people who remember that time, the portrayal is remarkably astute and, in many ways, sympathetic without being patronizing. 

Hong Kong and China shared a common past, a common ethnicity, and in some ways a common culture. But the recent history of the PRC, as well as it’s closed nature for much of its first decades, helped create a large culture gap that language (and food) alone couldn’t reconcile. Today, Hong Kong and China seem in many ways interchangeable, in financial, technological and cultural terms. In other ways, the roles have reversed; Hong Kong cinema now relies on the beneficence of mainland co-productions. And in still other ways, the differences that remain have become markedly acute. Whereas Sister Cheng’s occasional breaches of professional behavior during interrogations were seen as funny or utilitarian, the reality of mainland security officers operating in Hong Kong is now seen as a much more menacing problem. 

In 1990 people could fall back on a belief in One Country Two Systems and thus keep some of the thornier implications of Her Fatal Ways at arms’ length. But that risk is much more prevalent now than it was in 1990. In 2017, a movie about public security running roughshod through the streets of Hong Kong would not be greeted so airily. 

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Also Read:

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A Gentleman’s Guide on Cantonese - Interview with Benjamin Au Yeung by Apertus

“A Gentleman’s Guide on Cantonese” (Full version with foul language in Cantonese)
Written by Spencer Ng, To Wai-hong, Anson Hung (Apertus, CUHK Student Press 47th Proposed Cabinet 1)

Dr. Benjamin Au Yeung (nicknamed Ben Sir) is a senior lecturer in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, who is also a celebrity in the media. His GE course in Shaw College, “Canvassing Cantonese”, is so popular that it is always quickly full. Beyond the campus, he has taught Cantonese in a hilarious way in different TV shows, including “Sidewalk Scientist”, “EatLaMen” and “Sermon by Ben Sir”. Meanwhile, being an expert in the language himself, Ben Sir is generous in sharing his knowledge on various Cantonese sub-fields including pronunciation, orthography (how words are represented in written forms), foul language and internet slangs. What would he say about learning Cantonese and the words used in “dem beat (the activity that a group of people reciting some phrases loudly and moving their hands and feet. It is often used for promotions of societies and the games in orientation camps)?”

Why is Cantonese so hard?
Ben Sir thinks that there are three major obstacles for international students in learning Cantonese although they may have some background knowledge in the language. Firstly, he finds that p, t and k stop consonants in the last syllable are quite challenging to them. For instance, the word 十 (sap6, ten) is easily confused with 實 (sat6, solid). Likewise, the word 熱 (jit6, hot) is often mispronounced as 葉 (jip6, leave). From his observation, even though non-local students consciously try to, they still struggle to distinguish these ending consonants. Besides, they often misuse or avoid using the Cantonese particles, which indicate the tones and emotions of the sentences. Words like 呢 (ne1), 喎 (wo3) and 喎 (wo5) might sound strange to foreign ears, but to locals, sentences without them sound like coming from a news report. Ben Sir has also noticed that counter words are also challenging to non-local students. Instead of using the specific words for different nouns like locals do, they might replace any others with the most common one 個 (go3) and this would sound odd. Ben Sir thinks that as non-local students may be too afraid to make mistakes and so they avoid unfamiliar words. Lastly, as mentioned above, the Chinese particle 喎 has two tones, wo3 and wo5, which indicates slightly different meanings. Another word (啩, gwaa3), which suggests uncertainty, might also be mixed up with 喎 (wo3 or wo5), posing difficulties to some beginning learners of Cantonese. But these are all integral parts of everyday spoken Cantonese; avoiding them would make one sound unnatural or too formal.

How might the locals help
But how to overcome these hurdles? On one hand, Ben Sir recommends non-local students to compare similar sentences with minor differences in tones, particles in context so they will notice which one sounds right. On the other hand, he encourages them to experience local culture in places like Lan Kwai Fong, Yau Ma Tei and Jordan Road with their local friends. An effective way of learning is to experience the local’s everyday life such as going to yum cha (Cantonese Restaurants) or travelling by public transport. We might invite international students to guess how the new South Island MTR line station names are pronounced and go together with them to check if they are correct. By then, non-local students could have more common interests and interactions with locals. Likewise, he suggests local students teaching them Cantonese swear words as they are “the most interesting part of a foreign language”.
When asked which swear word he would he teach, the word 屌 (diu2, fuck) instantly came to Ben Sir’s mind. In his view, this is a simple yet useful word for expressing anger, but surprisingly this is not what he would teach the non-local students first. As a humble and polite person, he says he would teach do1 ze6 (多謝, thank you), m4 goi1 (唔該, also means thank you) and deoi3 m4 zyu6 (對唔住, sorry). There is a subtle difference in do1 ze6 and m4 goi1, as Cantonese people say the first phrase to thank for gifts, and the second for an act. Certainly, polite words are a part of “survival Cantonese”.

The best “beat”
Decades ago in CUHK, when Ben Sir was still an undergraduate student majoring in English, limericks with 4 lines and 7 characters were more commonly used in orientation camps than “dem beat”. These limericks are often derogatory remarks about another college. The best-known line 聯合組媽最盡責 (lyun4 hap6 zou2 maa1 zeoi3 zeon6 zaak3), was even mentioned in a stand-up comedy. The word 組媽 (zou2 maa1) refers to the female students who take care of the freshmen in orientation camps. While the phrase literally means that they are dutiful, the next line states that they performed blowjobs to male freshmen. This offensive phrase first appeared in an orientation camp back in 2002, and shocked the conservative Hongkongers. Anyway, Ben Sir generalises that the four lines in the limericks should ideally form a story, otherwise it would sound awkward.

As for “dem beat”, now a necessity in orientation camps, Ben Sir sees that the one by Morningside College gives out a more powerful tone. He adds that “the whole piece is in a traditional style of writing called 駢文 (pianwen, or parallel prose) in which every line begins with 4 characters and ends with 6.” A great example would be the line so2 hoeng3 pei1 mei4, daai3 dung6 fung1 wan4 sei3 hei2 (所向披靡,帶動風雲四起) which roughly means we are unstoppable and bring chaos everywhere. In Ben Sir’s view, the beats of other colleges sound less like Cantonese. The words used in that beat are colloquial Cantonese, such as ging1 tin1 dung6 dei6 (驚天動地, meaning earth-shattering). while the words used in, for example, Woo Sing College’s beats, are rather sophisticated and poetic because of the phrase po4 so1 syu6 jing2 (婆娑樹影), which describes the trees as “paradisiacal” and “beauteous”. “That’s clearly not the words we would use to describe the trees in our daily life. It is important to strike a balance between readability and complexity.” Ben Sir concludes.

The “Woo Sing Beat” is widely heard and ridiculed. After watching the video of the beat, Ben Sir gave a plausible explanation for this: “Although the words themselves are sophisticated, the students’ attitude did not match the beat. A model looks pretty with a fur coat, but not a person with a humble look. How can the students not be mocked when they looked so unenergetic?”

Is Cantonese dying?
When it comes to the future of Cantonese, its marginalization comes to our mind. But Ben Sir says he is not that pessimistic. There was a study showing that 90% of interviewees were native Cantonese speakers, but when it was repeated recently, the result dropped to 89%. He says we can assure ourselves that 89% is still high, but cannot deny that the figure has dropped, “and it’ll be worse as Hong Kongers will immigrate, die and be gradually replaced by mainlanders.” He continues that, “probably one day only 10% of Hong Kong residents are native speakers of Cantonese. Well, at that time we can still say that Cantonese has not been extinct.”
Ben Sir has noticed that Mandarin words have replaced their Cantonese counterparts in everyday conversations. For example, opening ceremony in Cantonese is 開幕禮 (hoi1 mok6 lai5), but some follow the mainlanders and say 開幕式 (hoi1 mok6 sik1). To slow down the decay of Cantonese, Ben Sir suggests us to write in Cantonese* “so that we can add value to the language, before it dies.”

* Currently, Cantonese is seldom written.

- - - The following is provided by Hong Kong Columns (Translated) - - -
和聲BEAT Woo Sing Beat
wo4 zeon6 tin1 dei6 fung1 wan4 zi1 sing1, waan4 pou5 saan1 seoi2 jat6 jyut6 zi1 ging2
po4 so1 syu6 jing2, jan4 git6 dei6 ling4
juk6 wo4 sing1 jat1 doi6 zing1 jing1, laap6 wo4 sing1 cin1 cau1 mei5 ming4
wo4 sing1! wo4 sing1! wo4 sing1!
Rough translation:
Echoing the sounds of the universe, embraced by mountains, waters, sun and moon;
Trees are paradisiacal and beauteous, these men are great and this land is glorious;
Nurturing Woo Sing’s generation of elites, building names for Woo Sing for centuries;
Woo Sing! Woo Sing! Woo Sing!

晨興BEAT Morningside College Beat
ging1 tin1 dung6 dei6, sing1 sai3 mou4 jyu5 leon4 bei2;
zin2 ci3 gou1 fei1, cong3 zou6 san4 hing1 zyun6 kei4;
so2 hoeng3 pei1 mei4, daai3 dung6 fung1 wan4 sei3 hei2;
hoeng2 jyu6 cin1 lei5, wai1 mong6 zan3 sip3 tin1 dei6;
san4 hing1, duk6 hin2 wong4 ze2 baa3 hei3;
san1 si4 doi6, jau4 ngo5 san4 hing1 daai3 hei3!
Rough translation:
Earth shattering, our trend’s beyond compare;
Fly high, we create the legend of Morningside;
Invincible, we are strong to even draw storms and clouds [referring to big events];
Renowned even afar, our reputation shocks the world;
Morningside, only we show manners of an emperor;
New era, we Morningside will create!

Ching Cheong: Why does Chinese Liaison Office boost Carrie Lam’s chance in full force?

Why does the Chinese Liaison Office boost Carrie Lam’s chance in full force?
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, written by Ching Cheong

 林鄭月娥 - 灣仔會展舉行參選特首分享大會(We Connect)

The Chinese Liaison Office has left no stone unturned to boost Carrie Lam’s chances in the chief executive race, and that has caused dissatisfaction all over Hong Kong. The LO even dared to bluff Election Committee (EC) members by pretending it is really representing Beijing. The LO also threatened other candidates who might possibly challenge Carrie Lam. Some even said: “Not voting for Carrie Lam means opposition against Beijing.” The LO also made a 700-strong list of nominations for Carrie Lam, which effectively means the Liaison Office wants to “cherry-pick” Hong Kong's chief executive. It is worthwhile to note this.

FIRST, we must clearly realise: the Chinese Liaison Office by no means represents Beijing.
The most obvious evidence is that the LO was completely on the outside when it came to CY Leung not running for a second term. I wrote an article for HKEJ on 8 December 2016, presenting three pieces of evidence that “Beijing is really developing towards the direction of 'giving up CY Leung'”. On the same day, a friend from the leftist camp asked the LO whether my article was true. A vice-ministerial official of the LO said, “Do not believe in rumours,” stressing that “Beijing's attitude is clear: Beijing will support CY Leung for a second term.” Right after that day, CY Leung announced his decision to not run for a second term. This clearly illustrates that not only does the Liaison Office not represent Beijing, but also shows its “outsiderness” when it comes to key issues.

This is not the only faux pas. Another example was the political reform package in 2012. The Democratic Party put forward the “Super District Council“ proposal.   The Office confidently guaranteed that “Beijing won't accept it.” On 14 June 2012, Hao Tiechuan, the Director-General of the Publicity, Culture and Sports Department of the Chinese Liaison Office, described the Democratic Party's proposal of “universal suffrage of District Council representatives” in very harsh words. “No precedent, no legal grounds, no need to come out from the woodwork.” Hao said the Basic Law has no residual power nor is there an ordinance to allow the functional constituency of the District Council to be applied with universal suffrage. On 21 June, chief executive Donald Tsang announced that Beijing had accepted this proposal. The Liaison Office had to do a U-turn. The embarrassing U-turn even made Lau Nai-keung, from the pro-establishment camp, sigh and remark: “The turn is really ugly.”

These two examples fully illustrate that the Chinese Liaison Office does not represent Beijing, nor does it really understand Beijing's mindset. Therefore, I advise EC members to ignore the pressure of the LO.

SECOND, we should be alert to the reason why the Liaison Office spares no effort to boost Carrie Lam.
I believe that among the four candidates (prior to Leung Kwok-hung’s announcement), Carrie Lam is the best representative of CY Leung's policy direction, as she made clear in her first speech when she announced her candidacy. Therefore, supporting Carrie Lam means supporting CY Leung’s policy direction. Why does the Liaison Office feel it has to continue CY Leung's direction? Because, in the past five years, CY Leung has successfully normalised “the governance of Hong Kong by the Liaison Office” and  “filled his cabinet with people from the leftist camp.” Back in March 2012, when CY Leung was successfully elected but before he assumed office, I foresaw the new chief executive would bring four main crises to Hong Kong. The first being “two systems” merging into “one country”; the “mainlandisation” of the government’s ideology; normalisation of the governance of Hong Kong by the Liaison Office; and filling his Cabinet with people from the leftist camp. (19 April 2012, HKEJ).

The developments of the past five years have been the best evidence of my observations. As CY Leung has successfully allowed the Liaison Office to “participate” (or should I say, “interfere”) in the internal affairs of Hong Kong and appointed a lot of people from the leftist camp, therefore, the Liaison Office has the incentive to support CY Leung for another term.  If that proves unsuccessful, then Carrie Lam, who will support the execution of  CY Leung’s policies as the next chief executive, shall have her electoral prospects boosted.

THIRD, the so-called “power struggle” is ridiculous. 
In order to push Carrie Lam to the top job, the Liaison Office even publicised through pro-Beijing media a so-called “power struggle”.  (17 January 2017, Headline Daily). The author of the article argued that choosing Carrie Lam would be protecting or defending Hong Kong’s regime and voting for others would mean losing Hong Kong's regime. There are several amusing points. First, a CE election supposedly conducted in accordance with the Basic Law is now suddenly a “power struggle”. Then why does the Basic Law stipulate such an election in the first place? Second, HKMAO director Wang Guangya already announced that the pan-democratic camp is part of the establishment, and Home Return Permits have been reissued to pan-democratic lawmakers. So even if other candidates win thanks to pan-democratic votes, that only means a different person in the same political spectrum within the establishment camp becomes chief executive. What, then, is the “power struggle?” People affected by the Liaison Office have lost the ability to distinguish rights from wrongs. 

However, the Liaison Office and its underlings are trying to escalate a normal CE election into a “power struggle”. These kind of conspiracy theories make me feel that there is something unusual going on. Continuing CY Leung’s policies can help normalise the governance of Hong Kong by the Liaison Office and fill the cabinet with people from the leftist camp, but on top of that, there might be a more deep seated reason: the Liaison Office intends to put an obedient person in the top job in order to protect the interests of certain people and their respective factions in Hong Kong. This is the key. My suspicion is not groundless because in the past number of years, there have been many signs that suggest this possibility. Some cases now available to the public can illustrate the problem.

A. The Case of Rafael Hui
Former Chief Secretary (CS) Rafael Hui was involved in a corruption case. People saw that former HKMAO director Liao Hui arranged a sum of $10 million to solve Hui’s debt crisis in order to put him in the CS position, so that Hui could be assured of the job instead of working in the private sector. This might only be Hui’s own rhetoric, but I believe this is true because these statements were made by Hui in court. If they were fabricated, he would be charged with perjury and Liao, who would be framed in this scenario, would surely deny. I believe that no one would dare to frame a ministerial leader from the central authority. Now, there are two questions: Why does Liao have to help Hui (in other words, why must Hui become CS to the point Hui has to be helped with such an extraordinary measure? Where did Liao’s $10 million come from (in other words, how did Liao pay this sum of money to Hui)? This unreasonable phenomenon only renders one reasonable explanation, that is: putting Rafael Hui in the position of CS will help Liao Hui protect the interests of his family or his factions in Hong Kong.

Lessons to be learned from Rafael Hui’s case: In order to achieve their goals or objectives, some people might violate the normal employment terms of civil servants and put obedient people in key seats of the HKSAR government (since Hui took the “aid,” he will surely be obedient). In fact, the $10 million sum already constitutes a bribe to Hui, so how can Hui not repay his benefactor when he is CS?

B. The Case of Song Lin
The former chairman of China Resources Group, Song Lin, was charged in Guangzhou on 8 December 2016. Song Lin's corruption case was already reported by Li Jianjun, a journalist from Shanxi Evening Post, to ICAC and the Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB) of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF). However it was later discovered that someone from the mainland authorities contacted ICAC through the Liaison Office, saying that the case involves mainland China and it was hoped that ICAC would not interfere. Li Jianjun said, as a matter of fact, some misconduct had taken place in Hong Kong and Macau, and China Resources Power is listed in Hong Kong, therefore the law enforcement agencies of Hong Kong are responsible for investigating this matter. ICAC and CCB did not do anything and did not handle this report.

It is universally known that Song Lin is a “super fan” of CY Leung. He was president of the Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association. The association had sixteen votes in the 2012 CE election and all sixteen votes went to CY Leung. The year after CY Leung was elected, Song Lin was immediately appointed as a Justice of Peace and holds various public posts, including becoming a member of the Economic Development Commission and chairman of the Hong Kong Business Ethics Development Advisory Committee (HKBEADC) under ICAC. These acts were criticised as political rewards. How can ICAC receive a report and do nothing at all? I speculate that this may be because ICAC was scared of Song Lin, who holds the title of chairman of HKBEADC. Prosecuting him is pretty much a joke to ICAC itself.

From this, we can conclude that whether or not the CE is obedient is very important. If the CE is obedient enough (such as CY Leung), ICAC would not interfere. Economic Information Daily’s chief journalist Wang Wenzhi reported to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) about Song Lin on 15 April 2014, along with the photos taken with Song and his mistress together. If that was not reported, Song is probably off scot-free.

Lessons to be learnt from Song Lin’s case: Whether or not a CE is obedient is very important to the interests of various factions of the Communist Party in Hong Kong.

C. The Case of Xiao Jianhua
The case of Xiao Jianhua is definitely the most shocking news in the political field recently. Rich merchant Xiao, who was handling HK$1 trillion for senior officials on the mainland, was “brought back to China”. The truth behind the incident is yet to be ascertained, but the case led to the surfacing of an organisation founded in 2014, known as the Hong Kong Association of Cultural Industries (HKACI). The vice president of HKACI is Xiao Jianhua and the honorary sponsor is CY Leung. The chairman of the HKACI Executive Council is Peter Lam Kin-ngok. Other directors include Henry Cheng Kar-shun (chairman of New World Development), Robert Ng (chairman of Sino Land), Albert Yeung (chairman of Emperor Group), Charles Ho Tsu-kwok (chairman of Sing Tao Group) and Vicki Zhao (a famous Chinese actress). These facts are worth noting for two reasons: It was unconventional before 1997 for the Governor to hold a post in an organisation with complicated political and commercial ties. Under normal circumstances, this would amount to the CE serving as protection and a promotional tool for this organisation. However, this case may involve the top tier, so the CE can do nothing. Second, many of the directors of the organisation joined Carrie Lam's election office.

Lessons to be learnt from Xiao Jianhua’s case: Putting Carrie Lam in the top job would help strengthen the status and protect the interests of this bloc in Hong Kong. However, this bloc has offended the top tier due to unknown reasons, and thus has exceeded the protection that CY Leung can offer.

D. The Case of Anthony Cheng
The nature of this case is different from the earlier three cases. However, this case can clearly illustrate the direct connection between whether a CE is obedient or not, and whose interests the mainland would like to protect. This case, which was concluded in October 2016, showed that Chief Li and Chief Zhang from the United Front Work Department (UFWD, also known as Tongzhanbu) of the CCP had an appointment with online radio host Anthony Cheng through Peggy Gao, a member of the then CE election office of CY Leung. Cheng was asked to reach out to localists and lure them into contesting about 40 District Council constituencies designated by the UFWD.

The objectives of this were to dilute the votes of pan-democratic candidates and to ensure the “iron votes” of the pro-Beijing candidates. Those localists who accept the offer and contest would get $150,000 per person, and it would not matter whether or not they won. If those bribed localists were to challenge incumbent District Council and Legislative Council members, they could even get $250,000. But the condition would be to get 200 votes. We know that the maximum amount of election expenses prescribed by law in DC elections is $48,000. The UFWD's offer is more than three times the prescribed amount. The intention of the attempted bribery is very clear. Hong Kong Indigenous and Youngspiration, two groups advocating independence, were among the localist organisations that were solicited by the UFWD.

Lessons to be learnt from Anthony Cheng’s case: Some people oppose independence on the surface but support separatist groups privately. This self-contradictory stance can only be explained by the fact that the louder the voice of separatists, the more threats there seem to be to national security. Therefore, more fees for maintaining stability (weiwen) will be needed. Superiors have to acknowledge their subordinates' harsh directions are being executed in Hong Kong, that is, creating non-existent “danger” to strengthen their own political status.

These examples illustrate the fact that some forces in mainland China need to support an obedient CE in Hong Kong so as to serve their factions' interests in the city. These interests are the reason that the Liaison Office is hysterically driven to boosting Carrie Lam with ludicrous rhetoric of “power struggle.”

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Yau Wai-ching: Taiwan should consider if it has sovereignty over the New Territories

Retracted letter by Yau Wai-ching to Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen 
Translated by K Li, written by Yau Wai-ching 游蕙禎 (Youngspiration) [Published on Liberty Times' website on 22 Nov 2016, retracted the same day after Yau declared it was only a "draft" not intended for issue]

22 November 2016

Ms Tsai Ing-wen
Republic of China

Madam President,

The so-called “interpretation of the Basic Law” issued by the government of the People’s Republic of China (mainland area of the Republic of China) on 7 November 2016 has in effect “changed the law” and seriously intervened the autonomy of Hong Kong. Without the scrutiny of Hong Kong’s legislature, the Chinese Communist Party has changed local laws without consent, and has clearly contravened the agreements made in the Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong (“Joint Declaration”).

My political party and I have sent a letter to the UK government to inform it of the PRC government’s crude means of intervening in the judicial independence and autonomy of HK. By “changing the law”, the CCP’s action has breached the BL’s Articles 22 and 158. A158 states that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the PRC has the power to “interpret the law” only when HK’s Court of Final Appeal seeks an interpretation from the NPCSC itself on provisions of the BL concerning affairs which are the responsibility of the PRC government or those which concern the relationship between the PRC government and HK.

However, the CCP’s “interpretation of the law” this time has clearly breached the regulation of the BL and therefore relevant provisions of the Joint Declaration, raising questions as to whether the Joint Declaration has been rendered ineffective. The Declaration was a bilateral treaty signed between the UK and the PRC, and both countries are signatories of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. So if the PRC government rejects what the UK has required it to do in HK according to the Declaration, it has breached the Declaration. The UK should raise the dispute and the validity of the Joint Declaration to the International Court of Justice in accordance with A66 of the Vienna Convention, and consider to re-establish the status of HK before the handover on June 30, 1997.

According to the Treaty of Nanking and the Convention of Peking, the Qing Empire ceased its sovereignty over HK Island and Kowloon Peninsula (south of Boundary Street) permanently to the UK; while the New Territories was only leased to the UK for 99 years by the Qing Empire. The Joint Declaration should only have the power to handle the sovereignty of HKI and Kowloon, but not the New Territories. The Joint Declaration’s decision to treat the New Territories with HKI and Kowloon is itself controversial. The PRC has destroyed the agreements made in the Joint Declaration, the only attestation it has on the sovereignty it claims to “possess” over HK. In addition, the lease of the New Territories should have ended in 1997, which means the PRC has squatted in the New Territories for 19 years. I hope Your Excellency would seriously consider the issue of sovereignty of the New Territories.

On 9 June 1898, 56 years after HKI was ceded by the Qing Empire to the UK, the UK government signed with the Qing government in Peking the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory, and was leased the territories north of Boundary Street and south of the Sham Chun River, and the surrounding 233 islands for a period of 99 years until 30 June 1997. The Republic of China government still possesses the three treaties regarding the sovereignty of HK. If the Joint Declaration is no longer effective, the ROC government should state clearly its official stance regarding the status of the New Territories under the constitutional framework of the ROC. For instance, is the sovereignty of HKI and Kowloon different from that of the New Territories under the ROC’s constitutional framework? Will Your Excellency negotiate with the UK government on the matter?

May I suggest that Your Excellency give serious consideration to the aforementioned issue, solemnly state your position and follow up on it assiduously.

Yours sincerely,

Yau Wai-ching
Legally and democratically elected representative of the voice of HKers


中華人民共和國政府(中華民國大陸地區政權)於2016年11月7日頒佈所謂的「釋法」,其客觀效果等同「改法」,嚴重干預香港自治。中共在未經香港立法機關審議的情況下,為香港本地法例擅自「修法」,這顯然已違反 《中華人民共和國政府和大不列顛及北愛爾蘭聯合王國政府關於香港問題的聯合聲明》(“中英聯合聲明”)的協議。





游蕙禎 謹啟


Monday, 14 November 2016

Ernie Chow: Illusion No More - Speech on 9 Nov Rally

Speech by Chairman of CUHK Student Union Ernie Chow at the rally against NPCSC’s interpretation of the Basic Law on 9 Nov
Translated by K Li, spoken by Ernie Chow 周竪峰 on 9 November 2016

Standing on this stage, I would very much like to follow the example of veterans in the democratic camp and shout with all my might “China has no right to interfere Hong Kong’s domestic affairs”, “uphold the rule of law” and “safeguard judicial independence”, and chant thrice with everybody here “shame on the Chinese Communist Party for destroying One Country, Two Systems and our high degree of autonomy”.

For many of you who took it to the streets today, I know it's the slogans of upholding the rule of law and safeguarding judicial independence that got you here. But we students want to tell you clearly that the concepts of “rule of law” and “judicial independence” you want to guard against, and the so-called One Country, Two Systems principle or high degree of autonomy have never existed here right from the beginning.

Former deputy secretary-general of the HK Federation of Students Lester Shum said yesterday, “HK’s rule of law did not die. It has never even existed ever since the Basic Law came into force”. With the NPCSC overriding HK laws with a free rein, even the basic requirement of the principle that “no one is above the law” could not be achieved here. In other words, so long as Article 158 stays in the HK Basic Law, HK could never enjoy the rule of law.

In the past 20 years, we have been deluding ourselves. We have been deluding ourselves into thinking that the CCP would not use up all its powers. We have been deluding ourselves that HK enjoys an independent judiciary that is independent from the CCP’s rules. We have been deluding ourselves that the BL can protect all the freedoms and rights we should be entitled. We have been living in denial about the cruel facts behind this illusion. The rule of law we prided ourselves with or even One Country, Two Systems itself are at the mercy of someone else.

I want to tell you a story here. Back in the 80s, when the Basic Law was being drafted, Albert Ho from the Hong Kong Affairs Society suggested to write into the Basic Law that “residual powers” shall belong to Hong Kong, in order to achieve “a high degree of autonomy” in real terms. What are the “residual powers”? These are those powers not codified in the text of the Basic Law. If the history were to change and these residual powers were given to Hongkongers then, the CCP would no longer have the right to interfere in anything other than such specified areas as diplomacy, military and national security. This has been the dream of all Hongkongers, including everybody here, in the past twenty years when we think about our high degree of autonomy.

However, the reality is that the CCP stated explicitly at a meeting of the Basic Law Drafting Committee that the issue has no room for discussion as China is not a federation but a unitary state, and all residual powers belong to the central authorities. And so, the reality of One Country, Two Systems became a complete opposite of what we have dreamed of: even the expectation that the CCP has no rights to interfere in anything except those stated to be in their domain by the Basic Law is not true. The truth is that except those rights explicitly stated in the Basic Law, Hongkongers enjoy no other rights and the CCP has the full power to manipulate us in whatever way it wishes. We don’t even have the right to say no.

You might still have the hope that the CCP could not strip you of those rights explicitly safeguarded by provisions in the Basic Law. Sorry, I tell you with regret here that CCP could still take these rights away easily with an “interpretation”s of the Basic Law. So long as the power of interpretation is within the hands of the CCP, the Basic Law is nothing but a pile of scrap paper.

It is 2016 now, and Hongkongers have deceived themselves for nearly 20 years. We cannot continue to delude ourselves and must open our eyes wide to recognise the ugliness surrounding us, to look at this era when all conventions are challenged, to identify the CCP’s deceit over its promise of One Country, Two Systems and high degree of autonomy. No, we do not have the rule of law, we do not have a high degree of autonomy, and we do not have the protection of the Basic Law. But from today onwards, if we could realise what is behind the facet of our enemy, and stop expecting that CCP would give us democracy, and not dwell on the illusion of One Country, Two Systems, and stride along our own path, then we will have the power to rebel, to revolutionise and to overthrow the unfairness and unjust here so we can free ourselves from the grasps of the CCP. If we can figure out what our enemy is really like from today onwards, we will know how to better utilise our power in achieving self-determination, independence or even in starting our own country. We will one day be able to overthrow the Hong Kong communist regime that has long suppressed us.

If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change. If you want Hong Kong to maintain its prosperity and economic stability, our officials to remain clean and follow the law in discharging their duties, our people to live well, you will have to fight! Put your illusions aside and look at the truth: what is before us is unprecedented darkness in Hong Kong. But if we resist being hypnotised by the darkness and oppose to being engulfed by despair, we will see unprecedented brightness after such darkness. May God bless Hong Kong, may we unite in saving ourselves!

Thank you very much.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Marcus Lau: What Are the Hong Kong Separatists Thinking?

What Are the Hong Kong Separatists Thinking?
Written by Marcus Lau

Hong Kong - A brand new school year to many means another purchase of absurdly expensive textbooks, but school year in Hong Kong is not like ever before.

Followed by banning separatists figures like Edward Leung and Andy Chan Ho-tin from running the legislative council election, high school students advocating Hong Kong independence were prohibited from distributing flyers on campus. Chief Executive Chun-Ying Leung depicted the belief of Hong Kong independence as if it is drugs or swear words. Meanwhile, teachers face potential disqualification if they encourage discussion of the topic in the classroom. The question here is, where do these ideals of Hong Kong independence come from?

The last time Hong Kong appeared on headlines all over the world was two years ago when the Umbrella Revolution broke out. The 79-day occupation demanding democracy marked its failure when the police cleared up the occupation zones in Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay. The revolution did not leave Hong Kong people with nothing though. It enlightens youth of Hong Kong that Hong Kong would never gain genuine democracy under the sovereignty of China.

The end of the movement opens a new page for the political dynamics in Hong Kong. Young people started to organise for social resistance and elections. Varied from the path of the traditional democrats who adhere to a Chinese identity as well as China’s sovereignty on Hong Kong, the rising localists suggest that Hong Kong is an imagined community itself with its own culture and set of values and shall enjoy a self-determination right, especially when the constitution Hong Kong is adopting (i.e. Basic Law) is facing an expiry in 2047. In March this year, the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) was founded as the first political party that advocates Hong Kong independence. Later in August, when the Hong Kong government slammed the door for certain candidates, HKNP held a rally titled “Hong Kong independence”, over 10,000 people attended.

From a recent poll we can tell 17 percent of the Hong Kong population supports Hong Kong independence, and among the age group of 15-24, the support doubled at 40 percent. To the older generation, Hong Kong and China is like mother and son. To separatists, Hong Kong and China is in a broken marriage and Hong Kong is suffering from brutal domestic violence. Like much Taiwanese and Catalonian, youth wants to separate from China. They don’t see “One country, two systems” promised by the Sino-British Joint Declaration could guarantee Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy as written in the declaration when the political power rests mostly in the hands of the Chinese government.

Despite unprecedented repression on freedom of expression, a separatist movement is developing its way led by the generation that undergone the umbrella revolution. Foreseeably, the Chinese government would use any means to suppress the movement from spreading as any separatist movements would undermine the legitimacy of the Chinese government. However, the honesty of history never fails to reveal the truth that the harder the repression, the stronger the reaction.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Marcus Lau: Reflections & Analysis after Election

Reflections & Analysis after Election
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, written by Marcus Lau Yee-ching (Former editor-in-chief, Undergrad, HKUSU) [1027, 05 Sept 2016]

The outcome of the LegCo election is basically decided. [By the time of writing,] the accurate figures were not released, but looking at the seat distributions, there are some points worth looking at.

1 – The Election in HK Will Soon Become “Malaysian-style” Election
Please bear in mind that there are five candidates being screened out (Edward Leung, Chan Ho-tin, Nakade Hitsujiko, Chan Kwok-keung, Alice Lai) due to their political stances. So no matter what, this election is by no means a democratic one, but an unconstitutional election waiting to be overturned. Ridiculous things happened during the election campaign period showed that the election in Hong Kong will gradually be interfered and manipulated by the government in different ways. First, presiding officers of poll stations can take ballot boxes home, but the luggage boxes with ballot papers were not even sealed. On the election day, some voters saw others using a photocopy of HKID card to vote, some voters “were voted by others”, some votes were considered invalid as they were torn a bit; power outage was seen in a poll station in North District. During vote count period, a presiding officer delayed the vote count result (Kowloon Park station), and a station had some “extra fake votes” in the ballot boxes (Sheung Tak station, Tseung Kwan O), etc. The government has lots of ways to interfere elections. If there are LegCo elections in the future, they would be rather dim.

2 – New Social Activism Bloc is Formed
Three members from the new social activism bloc (or “Demosisto” bloc), Lau Siu-lai (Kowloon West), Eddie Chu Hoi-dick (NT West), Nathan Law (HK Island), won with higher percentages of votes. Three of them gained the most votes in the non-establishment camp in their constituencies, and this is quite surprising to everyone. “Demosisto” bloc supported self-determination and non-violent confrontation. It took a “left-leaning” stance  economically, supporting universal retirement protection and advocating social connections. However, this bloc failed to mention the crux of HK-China relationship, such as the approval right of One-way Permit and the welfare of new mainland immigrants. What do their higher percentages of votes symbolise? Since the Umbrella Movement in 2014, the rise of the new social activism bloc has shown a different image from other traditional activist parties, which emphasised on their connections with workers or the grass root. The young, fresh and reforming image of the new social activism bloc has gained lots of support from the “Umbrella Generation”. Both being first-timers in LegCo Election, “Demosisto” bloc outperformed Youngspiration, and perhaps this is what localists should reflect on. Nathan Law was more known after the Umbrella Revolution, while Eddie Chu has participated in the protest against the removal of Queen Pier back in 2006. Chu kept on revealing the collusion between “government, commercial sector, rural sector and triad gangs”, and Chu's connections and network can never be underestimated. However, Lau Siu-lai has few “groundwork” in her constituency. After “coordinating” with Oscar Lai in less than half a year ago, Lau won with over 30,000 votes, and this is worth noting [Translator's note: final votes obtained – 38,183]. 

With the entry of “Demosisto” bloc, the huge “leftist social activism industry chain” will return. With lots of resources from LegCo, the key would hinge on students' unions across different universities. Opinion leaders around this chain, such as Chow Po-chung and YC Chen, will also return, after a period of silence. For localists or independence supporters, it would be a challenge to strengthen the localist forces formed in the tertiary education sector in the past two years.

3 – More Fragmented Landscape in LegCo
With people recommended by Chinese Liaison Office entering the Council (Junius Ho, Eunice Yung, etc.), the forces of New Pro-Beijing Bloc (NT rural sector, Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong and New People's Party) will be more solid. During an interview with the press, Nathan Law said he will not participate in the pan-dem joint alliance and will be on his own. For localism camp, originally there was only one seat (Raymond Wong), but now there are 2 from Youngspiration (Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung) and 1 from Civic Passion (Cheng Chung-tai), totalling 3 seats. Although both camps had some arguments with each other, two organisations share the most similar minds among all first-timers, so it is believed that there are rooms for cooperation in the future. The pan-dem camp has not changed much, so I would not comment for now.

Fragmentation of the Council becomes the trend, and for now, I cannot foresee any figure who can unite people from establishment camp or non-establishment camp, so it is expected that there will be no major breakthrough in the Council for the coming four years. The core of Hong Kong politics will still be “from streets to Council”. With lots of blocs in the council, there will be more variables. I cannot tell whether it is a blessing or a curse as of now, but I believed that a change, no matter a better one or a worse one, must be done to change the current plight in Hong Kong.

4 – Pan-dem's “Backroom Deal” - VotSonar – Plays Vital Role

VotSonar was initially a joke due to its small amount of sample size. However, Apple Daily listed a “support/sacrifice” (S/S) list [棄保名單] from VotSonar and used its media influence to promote such list. Yet, such S/S list was only supported by around 40,000 users and these users do not even know how the list was calculated. No one really knows how the list was generated. When the list was all over Apple Daily, the list became an indicating S/S list for the entire Hong Kong. Many voters who have not vote around the evening voted according to the list. According to the S/S list for NT East, my friend's family gave three votes to separate candidates, Gary Fan, Ray Chan (Fast Beat) and Fernando Cheung. The influence of the S/S list was much stronger then the participants of VotSonar, and there are even suggestions to cast all votes for Slow Beat (Tam Tak-chi) in Kowloon East.

VotSonar has a great excuse – to send as many non-establishment candidates into the council as it can. It used precious votes to support pan-dem candidates, some of which may be at risk, eventually sacrificing localist candidates. Take Kowloon East as an example, as “78% voters do not want to vote for Wong Yeung-tat”, so the plan “does not have to consider Wong”. When this result was spread out by Apple Daily, voters only have to know they have to cast all votes to Slow Beat, but voters would not know Wong Yeung-tat was not considered by VotSonar. Same case for Raymond Wong, Baggio Leung and Horace Chin Wan-kan. This is absolutely misleading voters. Apple Daily has once and again supported pan-dem candidates by using its media influence. These pan-dem councillors are mostly on the position of sinecures. Three decades have passed, do we have more time to waste anymore?

Now, “quitting” strategy. Few days before the election day, Civic Party's Sumly Chan and Labour's Suzanne Wu quitted the election by ending their campaigns. Even if this cannot “transfer” votes, this can show that the situation of the pan-dem is on the brink. With VotSonar S/S list, swing votes will go to non-establishment camp naturally. Candidates from the pan-dem camp quitted nearly at the same time, but is that just a coincidence? The last candidate who quitted was Kwan Wing-yip from Neo Democrats, and he said the “withdrawal” was the “darkest day in his political career”. Sumly Chan said he has spent every cent of his own for the election, and has no idea to pull out. Suddenly he had a press conference with other candidates on the same day. If you link the financial sources behind these parties, you can understand why there is such “collective pull-out”.

VotSonar-Apple Daily-S/S strategy integrated together and boosted pan-dem candidates. The outcome showed that those ranked lower in election polls, such as Ray Chan (Fast Beat), Nathan Law, Ted Hui and Fernando Cheung, got more votes than polls would have expected. It showed that the plan worked out, but the devil in the detail is as dirty as pro-Beijing camp's “number in the palm”.

5 –
I guess you can figure out how localist camp can reflect. But if I put it straight, I believe you will not listen, so I will leave it blank. The only thing I'd say is, we have chosen the easiest yet the most stupid way, and those who share similar ideas were harmed.

There are lots of other things that worth analysing, but I will leave that to others. I would like to encourage those who felt disappointed to this election, especially localists, “Pass on the torch. Never give up the faith. Keep the light burning.” (from The Grandmaster). I cannot say this election is a victory [to localist camp – translator's note], but I can still see the slightest hope in danger. We must not be frustrated, because, we are nothing but the only Hongkongers in the world. We are still the masters of this land.

The world will eventually belong to us.

Friday, 26 August 2016

[Undergrad/HKUSU] The Gap Between Two Hong Kongs: Seriously Looking at Hong Kong Independence

The Gap Between Two Hong Kongs: Seriously Looking at Hong Kong Independence
Translated by Casey Chang, written and edited by Mervyn Ho (Undergrad, HKUSU August 2016)

After the outbreak of instabilities in the beginning of the year, Hong Kong  now  faces another troubled summer.

The shocking press conference of the bookseller Lam Wing-kei busted the Chinese myth of "one country, two systems" (1C2S). The incident has stirred some uneasiness in the general public, yet it has not made the mainstream “elite politicians” recognise the fragility of the so-called "one country, two systems". Also, Lam's testimony did not receive enough attention from "pro-human right" western countries as they did not exert substantial pressure and sanctions on China regarding the Causeway Bay bookstore incident. The severity of the incident is supposed to be devastating enough to shake the confidence of "1C2S", but it only brings about nothing but merely nominal support from a few local and international pressure groups as a result of weeks of vehement protests. Following the fruitless clash with the police by some localist activists on 1st July, the political energy brought by Lam Wing-kei has gradually died down. All these events serve as a cruel reminder of the indifferent attitude of Hong Kong's public and the realist nature  of international politics.

Meanwhile, as  the LegCo election approaches, the rivalry between newly-rising localist and traditional democratic camp has reached its climax. On political arenas such as 4th June Candlelight Vigil and 1st July Protest, the two sides parted with or even rivalled against each other. With the escalation  of Chinese-Hong Kong tensions and increasing calls for Hong Kong's self-determination or even independence, it is imperative that the political landscape of Hong Kong politics will undergo drastic transformation. We have reached a historical turning point shadowed with uncertainty.Where would the post-1C2S Hong Kong go?

The abrupt end of Lam's incident indicates one thing: no matter how localists strive hard to draw support and to get media coverage, the "self-determination" and "independence" claims have never been treated seriously by the ruling business and social elites. The independence claims are considered by Chinese officials, elites and democrats as "impossible, extreme, populist, xenophobic and self-isolated protectionism, lack of economic and political possibilities" and the ideas are only political opportunism advanced by a small number of radicals, and therefore they should not deserve any attention. They simply consider  the option of independence as "unconstitutional and illegal" and bar the independence supporters from running LegCo election even the decision runs into the risk of violating their civil rights guaranteed by the Basic Law.

The localists’ fury is understandable, but one should keep in mind that elites  only calculate the merits of policies by cost-benefit analysis; the benefits generated by the favourable business environment in China, the access to greater China market, legal protection and the free economy system provided by 1C2S remained supremely important to them. Therefore, according to their cost-benefit analysis – it is imperative that the “minor sacrifices” of the dissidents' civic and political rights   are necessary after all in pursuit of the enormous profits brought by 1C2S. The screams and shouts of protests do not have even the slightest disturbance on the prosperous business activities and the clanking of champagnes that are taking  place in the skyscrapers in Central or Admiralty.

As a result, the city is split into two parts. On one hand there are financial complexes, office towers, and luxuriant shopping malls where high-educated, English and Mandarin-speaking white-collars exchange news of global stock market. On the other hand, it shows an unpleasant image of the city where features jumble of narrow alleys, overcrowded public estate and old mansions inhabited by intermixed neighbourhood of the locals and immigrants speaking various languages and dialects; hawkers running away from the police, smugglers from China chased after by disgruntled local youths. The rapid change of living environment, the sprout of jewellery shops and pharmacies changing the face of old neighbourhood, the invasive presenceof Mandarin, and the skyrocketing housing price level have deepened the anxiety of the locals.

There is an irrevocable gap dividing the city into two parts: the upper class refuses to accept any proposal of reforms and denounces any  form of protest as “radical” since they do not understand the anger and anxiety from the other side. And now who can represent and speak for them? For the past, the democrats played the role of the opposition, but now these law school graduates, “global citizens” are unable to handle such anxiety and to answer their demand for an “imagined community”. In a rather bizarre fashion, “Hong Kong nation” comes into being and becomes an important historical force.

The formation of Hong Kong nation is not only about a nostalgic feeling towards the past, but a serious political discourse and struggle which concerns issues such as immigration policy, allocation of social resources, education and legitimacy of using violence. As the popularity of the Hong Kong nationalism grows, the idea of "us and them" starts to weigh more importance than economic efficiency and universal value in political decision.  Although the essence of Hong Kong nationalism calls into question, the idea itself is widely interpreted as the resistance against the oppression of Chinese nationalism. Hong Kong society changes too rapidly after 1997:  Regardless of the reasons are the oppression of crony capitalism or influx of Chinese immigrants, the truth is that most  Hongkongers feel that the living space that they once enjoyed is increasingly being threatened. The grandiose plan of “Chinese dream” proposed by the Chinese government has failed to turn things around and win the hearts of Hongkongers back. All these factors make the image of “a weak nation against an oppressive power” attractive to many Hongkongers.

Hong Kong nationalists can better capture how the common Hongkongers feel nowadays: its carefully cultivated theories on culture and politics  have successfully separated the”Hong Kong nation” from the nation of China, and associate all social and political issues through  the perspective of “survival of Hong Kong nation”: Issues such as medical reform, the national anthem controversy on the soccer field, the medium of instruction in schools, the clash between street hawkers and policemen, every aspect of people's daily life has been turned into battlefields of fighting for the very existence of Hong Kong nation. The awareness of Hong Kong nationalism grows following each round of political mobilisations and controversies stimulated by social media, and it has profoundly challenged the discourse previously dominated by left-leaning liberals and conservative political economists on socio-political issues.

The mainstream is unable to respond to localist's demand for independence or self-determination with proper ideas  and simply downplays them as "fascists" or "populists”. Both sides lack common vocabularies to discuss their ideas, and the cracks are further widened by  stratosphere effects caused by the use of social media.The divide will only be worse in future.

If Britain had never colonised Hong Kong, or Communist China had never claimed Hong Kong back, or the promise given by 1C2S had been duly fulfilled, then the idea of Hong Kong independence would never become popular. It is ironic that the idea of Hong Kong nation shares the same loophole of Chinese nationalism, both being politically constructed ideas that are manufactured conveniently to serve real-life political needs. However,  precisely because Hong Kong nationalists understand that “nations” are products of real-life political conflicts rather than vice versa, it legitimatizes the birth of the Hong Kong nation against the arbitrary official discourse of Chinese nationalism, which claims that national identity is inherent and unchangeable. It is a truly remarkable historic event that in nowadays world, which national borders are thought to be  stable and colonialism is thought to be part of history, there can be a genuinely new nation given birth in a global metropolis in the peripheral area of China.

The rise of Hong Kong nationalism is an extraordinary by-product under the unique circumstances of Hong Kong history. However, keen observers may find the local separatist movement as part of the historical momentum of populism and the counter-nationalism in the post-modern world. The shocking result of Brexit, or the rise of Donald Trump (and Bernie Sanders) are often seen as the resistance by the upset mass against thglobalisationon, neoliberalism and politic elitism. The step down of Cameron also reveals the disconnection between the British government and European Parliament and the labour class, especially those from the old industrial area.

In the aftermath of Brexit, the mainstream media blamed the Brexit supporters as poorly-educated populists who selfishly destroyed the future of British youths. The arguments ignore the other side of the shinning appearance of the EU: the decline of low value-added industries due to the opening of market, wealth gap brought by neo-liberal policy of tighter fiscal control, slump of workers’ salary, shortage of jobs because of competitions of immigrants, cultural shocks, the influx of refugee, the fears of security. The success of Brexit is not a ridiculous joke but a dire warning to the ruling class in this world.

Many have warned about the EU governance model, but the ruling class remains indifferent and does not treat this rise of right-wing populist seriously. The EU demands British to act according to the result of the referendum, and it plans to punish Britons severely in order to deter anyone who wanted to follow suit. London wanted to postpone the triggering of Article 50. Meanwhile, an international law firm attempts to void the result of referendum through judicial appeal. Also, mainstream media view the majority Brexit supporters with contempt. British leaders are trying hard to block the result decided by the means of direct democracy, which showed the hypocrisy of western parliamentary democracy.

Comparing Hong Kong to these western countries with long democratic tradition, the Hong Kong independence movement has more headwinds include the influence of China's authoritarian regime, the rise of Chinese nationalism and despotic HKSARG, but Hong Kong localists and western right wing nationalists share many similarities: they are both facing dominance from a super-nation organisation or a superpower, economic competition from immigrants, heavier burden of social resources allocation, clash of culturesand degeneration of local lifestyle and habits due to intrusion of cosmopolitanism, and the widening gap between the poor and the elites. Traditional left-right party politics remained solid throughout the world, but cracks and crisis are everywhere. The problem has been aggravated after HKSARG has disqualified a Hong Kong nationalist candidate from running LegCo election. According to the recent survey by CUHK, support for localism remains a minority part of the city’s population. The fact that most of them are young people shows obvious generation differences. However, the voice of discontent would not simply vanish after  they are “muted” in the establishment; they would go back to the streets, to every household, and the uncompromising conflict between these “two Hong Kongs” will persist every day.

The significance of Brexit is that western democracy cannot solve the deep-seated social conflict caused by theglobalised world,  but will aggravate social divisions prolonged conflicts due to the exercise of direct democracy. To Hong Kong nationalists, the ultimate solution of the plight of Hong Kong is not “true democracy” but full independence, border control, reinvigoration of local culture, and strengthening of social bonds and identitys within the same political community However, the leaderless situation of Brexit camp shows that drawing support within the country is not hard, but negotiation with a far more formidable opponent will be a much more challenging  struggle. Weak nations are  ignored in the arena of international politics The nationalists have little bargaining power to gain  substantial international support at the moment: Hong Kong as a financial and logistic hub provides some favourable termsin theory , but they are more possibly the major obstacles for advocates of Hong Kong independence.

No matter it is establishment camp’s agendas such as "Belt and Road initiative" or 'China's dream", pan-dems' "the battle against 689" or localists' "general “self-determination” or "Hong Kong independence", all of them have mistaken Hong Kong as an unified entity without internal conflicts. They thought of bankers, lawyers, labourers, and rag-pickers within a single community as people sharing  common interest and goals e. They often assume that once the common goal is achieved, every Hong Konger will live happily ever after. Such common mistakes are made by both supporters of Hong Kong nationalists and liberals who failed to consider the social class divisions. Diversification and complication exist not only within the “imagined communities” but also among the “ethnic compatriots”. Asking the labour class to accept immigrants competing for jobs is as absurd as requesting business leaders to support the cause of Hong Kong independence. The ideological differences and social division between two sides has generated more strife and conflicts.

The solution, other than the traditional economist’s cost-benefit analysis of “achieve the general good”, must include the leftist's idea of wealth redistribution and nationalist's concern of constructing a shared identity. But if one takes a closer look, he or she may find the contradiction between the basic assumptions behind each of these theories and at the end of the day. It is hard to blame localist youth in taking the “valorous” path of violence after all.

As the society is deeply bipolarised (or tripolarised?), problems are increasingly difficult to  be solved with dialogues or debates. Instead, each side mobilizes its own supporters on the “stratosphere” of social networks and engages in verbal or even physical conflicts. What more likely happens in future is not the glory of independence but the disintegration of the society. Only the unpredictable force of history can tell who can be the final winner. Is the trend a boon or a bane for Hong Kong? Who knows?

Saturday, 20 August 2016

[Undergrad/HKUSU] Stephen Ku: The Empire on its Way to Death

The Empire on Its Way to Death
Translated by Cesar Guarde-Paz, written by Stephen Ku (Undergrad, HKUSU August 2016)
(Photo: Pixabay)
In 1841, shortly after British troops landed Hong Kong, Charles Elliot, Chief Superintendent of British Trade immediately announced that Hong Kong was a free port. Hong Kong’s economy achieved thereafter a rapid growth through entrepôt trade, leading to the subsequent development of other areas, such as the cultural industry. In the 1970s, when the Cultural Revolution broke out in China and right in the middle of a serious setback both to its economy and to its people’s livelihood, Hong Kong’s trade industries were in the apex of its development, gradually rising upon the world’s stage as an international financial centre. Even if there were usual economic exchanges between Hong Kong and China, such as the outflow of capital from Hong Kong’s industries to China in the 1980s and 1990s, the economic systems of Hong Kong and China have always kept an adequate distance between themselves. However, since the transfer of sovereignty on 1 July 1997 the SAR Government has acted as the colonial agents of the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong and has begun to eradicate any difference between Hong Kong and China, for instance, by promoting the “Hong Kong-China economic integration”, slowly making Hong Kong’s economic structure more and more dependent on China’s situation, sowing the seeds for the common notion of “Without Chinese economy there would be no Hong Kong”. In 2003, after the SARS outbreak, Hong Kong and China signed the “Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement” (CEPA), reducing barriers for trading between Hong Kong and China and lifting restrictions for individual visits from China to Hong Kong (Individual Visit Scheme) [translator's note: before China had travel restrictions for its people regarding visiting Hong Kong and Macau]. Since then, the focus of Hong Kong’s economy in trade, tourism, etc. has gradually moved towards China, with Hong Kong suffering a growing influence of the so-called red capitalism.

In an article published in February 2016 under the title “A materialist interpretation of the Chinese Communist Party violation of the promises of ‘One country, two systems; high degree of autonomy’”, political commentator Joseph Lian described how Hong Kong has received the obnoxious influence of red capitalism: “Red capitalism is really fond of Hong Kong. Over the last decade, it has had a significant presence, accounting for 40% to 60% of the total market capitalization of the recent Hong Kong’s stock market. Among the companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, there are usually more than fifteen of the top twenty shares, ranked by market capitalization, which can be labelled as “red capitalism”. Lian points out that red capitalism has already become the “economic foundation” of Hong Kong and is gradually undermining Hong Kong’s culture, politics, institutions, etc.: “The reason everybody is contemplating the distortion and eroding of the ‘One country, two systems; high degree of autonomy’ policy lies not only behind the fact that the ideology of the authorities is different from ours but, more importantly, behind the revelation and implementation of the will behind this red capitalism”. The leak of the Panama Papers shocked the world. An investigation report led by “Ming Pao” revealed that many scions of the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership who possess a Hong Kong Permanent Resident Status control offshore companies. Hong Kong has been reduced to a very convenient place for this crony elite to launder money. Whether it is the influence of red capitalism on Hong Kong, or Hong Kong’s value for this type of capitalism, the question should not be ignored.

The colonial proxies in Hong Kong who continuously endorse the crony elite of the Chinese Communist Party have transformed Hong Kong into the stepping-stone of China’s economic development. In a policy address delivered by CY Leung in 2016, the Chief Executive points out many times how Hong Kong’s economy should continue to move closer to China: “This year marks the start of the National 13th Five-Year Plan and the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as the launch of various innovation and technology initiatives.  It will be a year of significant opportunities for Hong Kong’s future.  Taking forward plans in hand, all HKSAR Government departments will be heavily engaged in their work”. Because of this, Leung proposed in his policy address to “enhance co-operation and exchanges between the Mainland and Hong Kong/Macao in the areas of social policies, livelihood issues, technology, culture, education, environmental protection, etc., as well as deepen regional cooperation in the Pan-Pearl River Delta Region.”. Xi Jinping’s proposed strategy, the so-called “Belt and Road initiative”, was mentioned by Leung in his policy address no fewer than 44 times, becoming the “top priority” of his policy address. It is so obvious that how CY Leung brown-nosed China, and help China to make plans for Hong Kong.

Due to the regime’s much trumpeted lemma “Chinese economy improves”, and set against the background of the “Hong Kong-China economic partnership sharing weal and woe”, the discourse of “Hong Kong Independence” is over and over under attack: those against Hong Kong independence, besides the paradoxical argument of “Hong Kong has been a part of China since ancient times”, they will also hardly forget to say “Hong Kong’s economy has always been dependent on China”, “if ‘grandpa’ is not happy, China will impose economic sanctions on Hong Kong”. An editorial published by Wen Wei Po on April 27 criticized Hong Kong independence for bringing terrible economic consequences for Hongkongers: “Founded on the Rule of Law and good government and thanks to the regional advantages due to the motherland’s support and the preferential policies from the central government, Hong Kong has become an international financial, trading, and logistics center. The consequences of ‘Hong Kong independence’ flood will be the disintegration of that position and those advantages. Do Hongkongers want to become the victims of ‘Hong Kong independence’?”. What is noteworthy about this is that those who uphold the aforementioned arguments include, besides the Party mouthpieces endorsing the regime, many pan-democrat activists. The Democratic Legislative Councillor Emily Lau pointed out on a forum in January 2015 that Hong Kong’s food and water resources are dependent on Chinese imports, and a lot of people work either in China or in a company managed by Chinese. Therefore, Hong Kong lacks the prerequisite for independence. 

In a survey conducted this year by HKUSU Undergrad, entitled “Politics and protest”, one of the questions asked was, if Hong Kong should uphold a referendum to decide whether “Hong Kong should become an independent country”. 61% of the students voted in favour of the referendum in case Beijing did not approve it, but with Beijing’s approval, the result was then 65%. This slight difference more or less reflects the attitude of some Hongkongers: they support Hong Kong independence in their hearts, but because they are afraid that an “unhappy” China will take vengeance with economic and border sanctions, they do not dare to stand out. Therefore, on the emergence of Hong Kong independence wave emergence and strengthening, the society is prevalent with bearish sentiments in this wave: some people believe that China is an undefeatable economic and political giant –“If you offend the Chinese Communist Party it won’t end well”, “this tiny piece of land called Hong Kong has to be under their command for good, we cannot oppose it”. But as the story of David and Goliath tells us, even giants can be defeated, and that “empire” called China is by no means invincible.

Why Nations Fail 
American scholars Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson point out in their book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty that political institutions are a prerequisite for economic development, and that it is only under inclusive institutions (those with fair market rules and protection of private property rights) that nations can achieve sustainable development. In contrast, extractive institutions (those with a small political elite dominating the country) will lead to the collapse of the country, caught within the vicious circle of extractive political and economic policies whose development cannot be sustained. And after its establishment by the Chinese Communist Party, China’s “political and economic institutions […] were highly extractive” (p. 420). 

In 1978, the Chinese Communist Party decided to focus on economic modernization rather than class struggle, with Deng Xiaoping, Hu Yaobang and others trying to implement inclusive economic institutions. The consequences of opening-up policies reform were that: the rural economy took off and state-owned companies bloomed. However, despite the rapid economic development, the economy was merely developing under an extractive institutional system: in 2003 entrepreneur Dai Guofang’s company competing against a state-owned enterprise led to his detention. Dai is just a victim of the exclusive institutional system, a proof that fair competition is almost impossible to exercise in China. The current governance of the People’s Republic of China is no different from the Soviet Union during the decades of 1960s and 1970s. China “is similarly unlikely to generate sustained growth unless it undergoes a fundamental political transformation toward inclusive political institutions” (p. 151). This is the case for any country in the world, without exception. But the fact remains that the Chinese Communist Party will only maintain a one-party dictatorship and will never allow the existence of any other political party. The authors quote the words of Premier Wen Jiabao: “If there is no guarantee of reform of the political system, then results obtained from the reform of the economic system may be lost”. In an authoritarian regime, even if there is a short period of economic growth, the lack of inclusive institutions and the destruction of creativity will, after all, hinder a long-term development and bring it all to an inescapable end.

In an article published in 2015 by The Wall Street Journal under the title “The Coming Chinese Crackup”, leading China expert David Shambaugh holds similar views with Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. The article points out five indications of the upcoming downfall of the Chinese Communist regime:

First, the economic elites have one foot out the door and they are ready to flee China en masse;
second, Xi Jinping’s regime has intensified its pervasive repression of freedom of press;
third, many regime loyalists are feigning compliance with the empty talk reforms;
fourth, the extend of the corruption problem;
and fifth, the big, hidden troubles that plague China’s economy.

Shambaugh states that the Chinese Communist Party clearly aware of the fact that China’s political system is like the emperor wearing no clothes, and Xi’s tyrannical governance has further pushed China’s system pressure to the brink of a breakdown: “The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun, I believe, and it has progressed further than many thinks”. And all the aforementioned problems can only be solved through political reform.

Although in 2016 Shambaugh said that he was not a “collapsist”, but wished China will have a different path, however, this does not affect to his main point, that “without reform, China has no future”. It is clear that today the Chinese Communist Party will not implement fundamental political reforms to resolve its actual crisis. In 2013, Xi Jinping issued the following “Great speech”: “if our party can’t even handle food-safety issues properly, and keeps on mishandling them, then people will ask whether we are fit to keep ruling China”. In 2014 the fourth plenary conference of the eighth session of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party emphasised the “Rule of Law”, “to insist on the dominant role of the people”, “to insist on equality before the law”, etc. And then the Chinese Communist Party promptly overthrew itself: in March 2016 when China suffered the vaccine scandal, each social networking platform in China called for the removal of any “unfavourable” information, including the previous passage from Xi Jinping’s “Great Speech”, which was widely quoted by netizens. A man who asked Xi Jinping to resign was arrested. When on June, the land rights movement in Wukan village erupted again, the activist leader Lin Zulian was taken away by force by the police, who were waiting in the village, fully equipped. Ironically, when the villagers marched they waved the national flag, as they loudly cried out: “Long life to the Chinese Communist Party! Down with corrupt officials! Give us back our land!”. But no one should feel pity for them: a group of fools whose land had been taken away yet are so lucky to have the Party as their consolation, advocating unrealistic feudal ideas such as “I am only against corrupt officials, not against the emperor”. The Chinese Communist Party is a hopeless, hypocrite regime which expects to improve itself by saying things like “according to the Rule of Law” and “Down with corruption” – there is no doubt that these are just the late-night ravings of a lunatic. The Economist has evaluated Xi in the following terms: it seems that Xi Jinping doesn’t have time to make the Chinese Communist Party abide “according to the Rule of Law”, to implement bold social reforms, or to end state-owned enterprise that bankrupted many years ago. Yet, he can use any means necessary to consolidate his own power. Thus, The Economist has called him the “Chairman of Everything” (COE). To expect decentralisation and implementation of inclusive institutions from the Chinese Communist Party is like climbing a tree to catch a fish.

It is the nature of the Chinese communist regime to get rid of the person who points out the problem, rather than getting rid of the problem itself. In fact, the nature of the Chinese communist governance is exactly the same as described in Why Nations Fail. When governance, economic and any other type of crisis accumulate over and over, those in power will turn a blind eye and bury their heads in the sand. Finally, we should point to Why Nations Fail’s prophecy: its economic growth being unsustainable, China will fail. Or as The Washington Post editor Jackson Diehl puts it in his article “The Coming Collapse: Authoritarians in China and Russia Face an Endgame”: 
“Revolutions are, of course, unpredictable. Some regimes fall sooner than seemed possible until the event occurs; some linger long after their demise has become inevitable. But the recent history of unfree countries has shown that while breaking points are hard to anticipate, there is a common set of conditions that sets the stage for change”.
When in 2015 China faced a rare case of national stock market crisis, the signs of China’s economic storm roared like a thunder. On February 2016, Joseph Lian pointed out that the Chinese economic miracle already started to decline in 2008 and, would it not stop, in three years their economy would experience negative growth. “If Beijing’s attempts to counter-attack by force result in conflict, its crisis-ridden economy is likely to collapse: and if it doesn't use force to counter attack, the myth of nationalism will also be shattered into pieces”.

As China buries itself, those enjoying the comfort zone should be alert 
As for today, there are still a lot of Hongkongers who believe that Hong Kong’s economy can only rely on China, that “If Hong Kong is fine, China will be fine; if China is fine, Hong Kong will be even better”. This is especially true for the financial sector. Little do they know that behind China’s apparent national prosperity, a nation is dying inside. It is a matter of time before the wind blows out the candle.

At present China still relies on its sovereignty over Hong Kong and continuously makes use of the world’s freest economy. Nevertheless, the consequences of the invasion of red capitalism will not only be a Chinese model of business or the erosion of the values treasured by Hongkongers, but also the ripple effect of the explosion caused by China’s political and economic crisis. Before doomsday arrives for China and continually spreads over the present situation of Hongkongers, even if Hong Kong’s nationalism does not have a common front, it will eventually awake: to save ourselves, we should first cut any ties with China.

Leave China for self-determination. Save Hong Kong.