Endgame Hong Kong

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The Best China

 

In this latest instalment in our series ‘The Best China’, we offer a commentary cum exhortation by the veteran journalist Lee Yee 李怡 (李秉堯) on the June-July 2019 Hong Kong Rebellion. Founding editor of The Seventies Monthly 七十年代月刊 (later renamed The Nineties Monthly) Lee Yee has been a prominent commentator on Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwan politics, as well as the global scene, for over forty-five years. His position has gone from that of being a sympathetic interlocutor with the People’s Republic in the late 1970s to that of outspoken rebel and man of conscience from the early 1980s.

For decades Lee has analysed Hong Kong politics and society with a clarity of vision, and in a clarion voice, rare among the territory’s writers. The following essay is translated from ‘Ways of the World’ 世道人生, the column Lee Yee writes for Apple Daily 蘋果日報.

— Geremie R. Barmé
Editor, China Heritage
5 July 2019

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Further Reading:


Lee Yee with his daughter and grand-daughter participating in the 16 June 2019 demonstration in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong Endgame

終極之戰

Lee Yee
李怡

Translated by  Geremie R. Barmé

 

Martin Luther King said:

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.

馬丁路德金說:當一件事發生時,怯懦的人問,安全嗎?考慮得失權宜者問,這是否明智?虛榮者問,它受歡迎嗎?但良心會問,這是對的嗎?總有一天,一個人必須採取既不安全,也不明智,也不受歡迎的立場,只因為良心告訴他這是對的。

When the events of 1 July unfolded many people, including me, asked: Is it safe? Politic? Popular? But the only thing that concerned those who stormed LegCo [the Legislative Council building that is the official seat of the Hong Kong government] that day was the issue of Right vs. Wrong. Was it a trap laid by the authorities? Was it led by blackguards who had insinuated themselves into the crowd of protesters? In the final analysis, these questions are meaningless. The determination of the majority of young protesters who regard the Anti Extradition Bill Movement as the Ultimate Battle, an Endgame, being fought between Right and Wrong is not something predicated on success, but rather it comes from moral awareness; they pose their questions about justice without a carefully calibrated consideration of the consequences. I’m afraid it is the kind of logic that simply eludes those ensconced in their comfortable sense of aloofness.

當7.1衝擊發生時,許多人包括我在內,都問安全嗎?明智嗎?受歡迎嗎?而衝擊者想到的只是對與錯。是不是當局有意設的陷阱?是不是有混進示威群中的「鬼」帶頭衝來誘導群眾?從最終看到的情境判斷,這些疑問都沒有意義了。把這場反送中運動視為正義與邪惡的終極之戰的年輕抗爭者,大都抱着不成功便成仁的決心,只問對錯,沒有計算。這恐怕是仍然生活在舒適圈的人士不易理解的。

In the past few days we have seen the newspapers of the world publishing what amount to political advertisements for the young people of Hong Kong. Do you think that with their understanding and abilities they are incapable of telling if they were ‘infiltrated by enemy agents’ and merely doing their bidding? Do you imagine that with their courage and sense of rightness that they would simply fall into a trap set for them by the authorities?

幾天內就可以在世界各大報刊出政治廣告的年輕人,以他們的智與能,豈會識別不出「混進來的鬼」而聽從擺布?以他們的勇與仁,又何須理會是否當局的陷阱?

These are individuals who share an unspoken understanding, they have come together in collaboration despite the fact that they are leaderless and are strangers to each other. But they share something that perhaps even the most powerful organisation lacks: a deep concern for each other, somewhat like the bond between brothers and sisters; it is an intimacy of the kind rare even among the closest of friends. A few days ago, people online were deeply affected by the declarations by some demonstrators who said that they would give expression to their independent political will in the most ultimate fashion: by taking their own lives. And their fellows have  desperately searched for them — brothers in struggle whose names and identities were unknown.

他們是一群沒有領袖的互不相識的人,但聯結配合的默契,哪怕組織力再強大的團體也無法做到;互相關切如同兄弟姐妹之情,再親密的朋友也難達致。前天,幾個在群中宣稱要以死明志的人,牽動了無數網友的心,大動員去到處找尋這幾個不知姓名也不知樣貌的兄弟。

In storming of LegCo, the seat of the Hong Kong government, protesters used the tactic long known in the West as a ‘Black Bloc’. Confronted with the collapse of political legitimacy and in an environment in which the police are deployed to act as a paramilitary force, protesters protect themselves by means of anonymity: they wear black clothes, don face masks, eye masks and helmets. The actions they chose are to block roadways, to surround or invade government buildings and even to use rocks, bottles, fireworks and Molotov cocktails as weapons. Black Blocs are not about plunder and they avoid hurting the innocent. Such militant actions are aimed squarely at the establishment and, naturally, the police are the main target.

A Black Bloc is a way of expressing opposition to the government and the establishment; their tactic of borderline violence invariably garners scant sympathy from the mainstream media, although they do benefit massively from social media since there is no way that the authorities can simply turn it off. Francis Dupuis-Déri, a professor at l’Université du Québec à Montréal [who is a noted activist and anarchist thinker, see his Anarchy Explained to My Father] is of the view that Black Bloc demonstrations are not directly related to the harming of innocent bystanders. He argues that it is important for people to consider the message of the Black Bloc rather than fixate on their actions per se.

像衝擊立法會的這類行動,西方社會早有名稱,叫Black Blocs,「黑塊」,或譯作「黑群」。那是在社會受壓者面對政治正當性蕩然無存而警察又趨軍事化的情勢下,用身穿全黑衣服,戴上口罩、眼罩、頭盔蒙面保護自己,採取佔領路面、包圍或進佔政府建築物,甚至掟石、掟樽、放煙火、汽油彈。黑群不搶掠,不傷害無辜者。勇武行動針對的是建制,警察自然首當其衝。黑群行動旨在表達對政府和建制的對抗,暴力邊緣的行為多不獲主流媒體支持,但受惠於社交媒體,使政府不能不關注。魁北克大學教授Francis Dupuis-Déri認為黑群示威與傷害無辜者的暴力沒有直接關係。他認為大眾要反思的是黑群帶出的訊息,而不是他們的行動。

Some online comments regarding the Hong Kong Black Bloc point out that to overthrow autocracy requires a multidimensional battle. The millions of demonstrators overwhelming the city are merely the foot soldiers; the student activists are akin to navy ‘SEALs’. They are the most courageous and they take the greatest risks. In relation to them, people shouldn’t hide their cowardice behind calls for ‘peaceful, rational and non-violent’ behavior. If you don’t have the courage to join in the charge, then take up a position behind the lines working on logistical support. Just don’t criticise the SEALS!

有網民就香港的黑群行動指出:推翻暴政是一場立體戰。百萬人上街圍城只是步兵,學生們是「海豹突擊隊」。他們承擔最大的風險,身懷無比的勇氣。不要用和理非當成自己膽怯的遮羞布。沒有上前線的勇氣,請到後勤部報到。不要指摘海豹突擊隊!

An authorised short film on the Internet features one of the last remaining demonstrators in the LegCo chamber who addresses the camera without a face mask off. He says:

‘Our movement excludes no one. The victory we seek is a victory for all; our loss will be a loss for years to come. We want a truly civil society one that cannot be overturned for years to come …

‘I have removed my face mask so everyone can know that there is nothing more that the Hong Kong people have to lose. …

‘If we lose this round too, that’s ten years, thinking about it — ten years in the short run, but our civil society will be completely lost.’

網上有一段被授權發佈的影片,7.1在立法會最後留守者之一脫掉口罩講話,他說:

「家我哋呢個運動,係冇得割席,要贏,我哋就一齊贏落去,要輸,我哋就要輸十年,我哋成個公民社會,會有十年永不翻身……我除低口罩,係想畀大家知道,其實我哋香港人真係冇得再輸㗎啦……再輸,係十年,你諗吓係十年,我哋嘅公民社會就會一沉百踩。」

All-inclusive —冇得割席 —  it means embracing those who are militant as well as those who are peaceful demonstrators in favor of ‘peaceful, rational and non-violent’ protest. The latest news is that young Hong Kong people who are ‘localists’ are no longer rejecting Mainlander participation. They have called for another demonstration on Sunday the 7th of July. It will start at Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui [frequented by Mainland shopper-tourists] and proceed to Hong Kong West Kowloon Station [symbolic as it is the terminal for the cross-border high-speed railway]. Along the way demonstrators will call out to passers-by [and Mainlanders arriving in Hong Kong who have been unaware of the protests] to join them in opposing the Extradition Bill.

冇得割席,所以既包容勇武也號召參與和理非的和平遊行。最新消息是原屬本土派的年輕人也不再排斥大陸人,他們發起周日(7月7日)在九龍遊行,從尖沙咀梳士巴利花園行至西九龍高鐵站,途中向自由行旅客宣傳反送中的信息。

The Communists have imposed a strict ban on news about the Hong Kong protests on the Mainland Internet; they are pursuing it with even greater stringency than that usually reserved for the constant flood of online criticisms of their authoritarian behaviour. I did, nonetheless, come across one snippet that had somehow managed to escape the censors:

‘Protesting against tyranny may well prove to be useless, but not to protest will definitely be meaningless. Freedom of speech might not be the same as democracy, but without even that freedom there will definitely be autocracy. There has to be a clear aim, one that must be achieved. This is the ‘Endgame’; it’s a ‘Crucial Campaign’. Good night, my dear Hong Kong!’

中共在大陸網站封鎖有關香港的訊息,比所有對專權政治的批判訊息更嚴密。但我偶然看到一段漏網之魚:「對於邪惡暴政,反抗不一定有用,不反抗一定沒用;有言論自由不一定就有民主,無自由即暴政;必須有明確的目標,並且必須達到;這是『終局之戰』,也是『關鍵一役』。晚安吾港!」

Not all Mainlanders are willfully unaware. In the Endgame between Justice and Evil, as many of them as possible should be embraced.

It’s important to March on the 7th of July!

大陸人並非都愚昧。在正義與邪惡的終極之戰中,他們是要爭取的對象。7.7值得上街!

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Source:

  • 李怡,《終極之戰》,蘋果日報,2019年7月5日
‘Striving On Despite Despair, We Will Continue in Solidarity’