How Dare You Hong Kong People Resist!

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Hong Kong Apostasy

 

Kitty Hung Hiu Han (洪曉嫻, 1989-) is an educator and writer. During her undergraduate years with the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies at Hong Kong Chinese University she was active both in the university’s Tolo Poetry Society 吐露詩社 and the student newspaper. She has participated in the editorial collective of Fleurs des Lettres 字花 magazine and has hosted various radio and television programs focussed on young people. A middle-school teacher as well as being a much-published poet, novelist and essayist, Kitty Hung has published work in Ming Pao 明報Literature Hong Kong 香港文學, Initium Media 端媒體, Stand News 立場新聞 and Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine 聲韻詩刊.

The following essay was published in Stand News 立場新聞 on 17 August 2019.

The author’s reflections bring to mind the on-going debate about the Chinese national character and modern politics. It is a debate that has raged since the late-Qing dynasty — from Tan Sitong 譚嗣同 and Sun Yat-sen 孫逸仙, on to Li Zongwu 李宗吾 and Lu Xun 魯迅, as well as, in more recent decades, from Bo Yang 柏楊, Li Ao 李敖, Lung-kee Sun 孫隆基 and Lung Ying-tai 龍應台 to Liu Xiaobo 劉曉波, Li Jie 李劼 and Yu Jie 余杰.

My thanks to Victor Fong 方金平 for checking my translation of the flyer for the 18 August Victoria Park protest.

— Geremie R.Barmé
Editor, China Heritage
18 August 2019

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Note:

  • Explications and notes are marked by square brackets [], although amplifications have also been made to the text for readers who are unfamiliar with the issues touched on by the author, or who might benefit from the highlighting of cultural and historical references.
  • For more chapters in the series ‘Hong Kong Apostasy’, see The Best China section of China Heritage.

— The Translator

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Related Material:


‘Hongkongers! Be Sure to Go to Victoria Park Tomorrow [Sunday the 18th of August]! Don’t only wear black and bring an extra piece of clothing, as well as a laser pointer! Beware of Infiltrators! If [you come across someone who seems] suspicious, write the following on a piece of paper [in Cantonese romanisation to see if they understand it]: “Do you know what the fuck I’m saying?” Five Demands: All Must Be Met! Ah Fuck: help distribute this for me!!!’ Source: Kitty Hung’s Facebook page, 17 August 2019

[Note: On the use of bedeviling Cantonese romanisation, which is commonly used for text messages, to 捉鬼, ‘catch ghosts’ or smoke out pro-Communist agents provocateurs and online trolls, known as ‘ghosts’ or ‘gwei’ 鬼, see Char Ying-lam 查映嵐, ‘Is anyone who can’t read Cantonese romanisation a ghost?’ 唔識粵語拼音就係鬼?Stand News 立場新聞, 18 August 2019; and, Victor Mair, ‘Women’s Romanization for Hong Kong’, Language Log, 17 August 2019]

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Some Chinese Ask:

‘What Gives You Hong Kong People the Right to Resist?’

有中國人問我「憑什麼香港人可以反抗」

Kitty Hung 洪曉嫻

Translated by Geremie R. Barmé

 

I had to go to China in late July, but I was worried that they might refuse me entry if they checked what was on my phone [for evidence of material related to the Protest Movement]. Anyway, because of what was happening in Hong Kong, I had no particular desire to go. Regardless, I decided to ‘streak through’; so what if they blocked me?. In the event, I passed through customs without incident.

Before setting off I’d kept telling myself: no matter what you hear, whatever you do just try and stay calm. I’d also read some of the nasty stuff circulating on WeChat — including such things as the claims that the Hong Kong protesters were just a pack of illiterate Vietnamese refugees.’ (Sigh: I know our Cantonese characters confuse people.) But, I guess I just lack the necessary fortitude. On the high-speed train going there I overheard two young Chinese guys sitting near me spout all this bombastic garbage about how ‘chaotic’ Hong Kong was:

‘You know, that damn foreign interference is really something. They’re dead set on throwing Our China into turmoil!’

‘Yeah, those protesters have completely screwed the Hong Kong economy.’

‘It’s just that those Hong Kong kids are given too much freedom. They need to be taken in hand.’

I couldn’t hold back and I heard myself challenging them in a very loud voice:

‘They aren’t rioters! How could they be rioters — don’t you know that the protests include public servants, lawyers and all kinds of professionals?’

七月底因事要去中國,出發前頗為擔心會被查手提電話而過不了關,但因為香港的事本來就令我極度不希望去中國,本著「最多俾你查到以後都唔去」的心情裸奔。結果沒有被查手機,順利過關。

出發前在內心說了一萬遍無論聽到希望都要保持平靜,也在微信上讀過一些抹黑的文字(包括說示威者都是目不識丁的越南難民什麼的,唉都話字體好緊要㗎啦)。結果是道行不夠高,在高鐵上鄰座的年輕中國人大發偉論,說香港好亂,「外國勢力真的很厲害,在亂我中華」、「香港的經濟就是被示威者搞亂」,「香港是太自由的小孩應該要多管」⋯⋯實在沉不住就在座位上大大聲跟那兩個男子說「運動裡有公務員有律師有專業人士,怎麼算是暴徒了?」

I immediately regretted having challenged them and suddenly wondered if I might not be ‘disappeared’. I thought to myself: what these fellows had said — one of them was particularly annoying — gave me pause, in particular after the event, though not in the way they might have hoped. Then came the retort:

‘Yeah, you’re right — you’ve got two million people supporting you in the streets of Hong Kong, but don’t forget we’ve got 1.4 billion backing us.

‘Hong Kong isn’t yours, it belongs to China! And just what makes you Hongkongers think you’re so much better than us?’

當然我有點後悔大聲駁斥,不知道會不會在忽然被失蹤,但那兩個男子(主要是其中一個)說的話,事後我覺得實在可堪玩味,他說:「沒錯你有兩百萬人,但我們有十四億人,香港不是你的地方,是中國的,你們香港人憑什麼覺得高高在上?」

‘But [, I replied], aren’t Chinese people scouring the planet in search of decent milk powder for baby formula? Don’t they come to Hong Kong to get their children safely inoculated? So where’s your right to resist when your children are poisoned by tainted milk powder or when you’ve fallen victim to fake medicines?’

可是中國人不是去全球買奶粉、連打疫苗都要到香港打,當你們被毒奶粉假疫苗所毒害的時候,你們有反抗的權力嗎?

‘We don’t need all that “outside freedom” [both outside of China and beyond the Great Firewall of China],’ came the response.

‘We don’t need to know the so-called ‘real news’ [about what’s going on in Hong Kong]. What matters to me is that I’ve never had any of that tainted milk, nor have I been injected with phony medicine. You don’t know how hard we really have it here. What makes you think you have the right to protest?’

「我們不需要牆外的自由,我們不需要知道真相,關鍵是我沒有吃過毒奶粉和假疫苗。我們在國內也生活得不容易,憑什麼你們可以反抗?」

With that I decided to hold my tongue, although I was seething for the rest of the trip. I simply stopped fighting with them. Anyway, those two probably thought I belonged to what they call in China ‘Garbage Hong Kong Youth’, a rioter brainwashed by all those ‘Inimical Foreign Forces’.

後來我就閉嘴了,一直到下車我也很憤怒,但是我沒有再爭吵下去,大概那兩個中國人心裡,我便是被外國勢力所洗腦的香港廢青暴徒。

Not long after that, [some Hong Kong] entertainers declared themselves to be ‘proud flag bearers’ [in a performative-patriotic response to protesters having thrown the flag of the People’s Republic of China into Victoria Harbour] and online Chinese dirt-mongers started ‘whistle blowing’, that is, pointing the finger at any famous person who they thought supported Hong Kong independence. Then there were incidents involving Chinese students studying overseas who disrupted demonstrations supporting the Hong Kong protests.

不久就接連發生了藝人護旗手、網軍君臨天下到處檢舉名牌支持港獨台獨、各國中國留學生去撐港集會踩場的事件。

It all brought to mind a trivial incident from a few years ago.

我想起一件早一兩年的小事。

From when my daughter was six months old we started ‘baby-led weaning’: she picked finger-foods for herself and we adults stopped spoon feeding her. She grabbed whatever she wanted so, of course, food ended up being mushed all over her face and hands. Whenever my Chinese aunt saw this she remarked sarcastically:

‘Our Chinese children could never be allowed to do this; they’d never cope.’

I’d ask if that was because Chinese babies were particularly stupid? Or was it due to the fact that their parents had zero confidence in their own children?

[Note: For a discussion of this, see ‘The Dos and Don’t of Baby-led Weaning’]

我的女兒從六個月開始BLW(Baby Led Wean),從小自己動手吃飯大人不餵食,小嬰兒抓到滿臉滿手都是食物,我在中國的舅母每次見到都語帶諷刺地說:「我們中國的小孩絕對不可能這樣,他們做不到。」當時我的回應是難道中國的孩子特別笨嗎?還是中國的父母特別不信任孩子?

All of a sudden, this old exchange came to mind; I realised there was a connection between baby-led weaning and the argument I’d just had on the train.

In China, it seems to be the case that children always have to be ‘controlled’; they can only be  permitted to do what their parents will allow them to do. They are ‘taken in hand’ whenever they overstep the mark. It means that that are confined to unfreedom from the moment they are born.

這件小事突然在我腦海裡浮現,並且發現了兩者的連繫。在中國,大概孩子全都是要「管」的,只能在大人所容許的範圍內做容許的事,稍一脫序就會遭到打壓,一出生便是在自由的囚牢裡。

As for the ‘People’, aren’t they no better than children in the all-controlling care of a ‘Father-Mother Officialdom’ [a common traditional term now used for government bureaucrats and Party cadres]? This is the ‘unique national characteristic’ of that Nation of Big Babies [or, Children-Adults].

You can tell the chill of autumn is on the way when the first leaves turn. From the way children are treated all the way up to all that nonsense we are presently hearing about ‘Hongkongers are badly behaved children and the Fatherland is your daddy’. And then there’s Carrie Lam putting on the pose of ‘Kindly Mother’ that comes from the same place.

而人民,不就是「父母官」要管的孩子嗎?巨嬰國國情。一葉知秋,從對孩子的態度,到什麼香港兒子祖國爸爸的歪論,甚至林鄭的慈母論也是如出一轍的。

The Adult in the Child

Chinese Parents seldom encourage the development of their children’s personality. By contrast, Westerners foster their children’s independence. They encourage them to sleep on their own and to leave home when they are grown up. Western children have equal status with their parents. There is no obligation on their part to show filial piety.

In China, the older generation is only concerned for the physical well-being of the young. When a child’s concept of self is not yet well developed, that child needs his elders to look after him, to give him food, to put him to bed early, and to take general care of his health. But to treat adults in this manner is to fix them at a particular stage of deveIopment. Chinese adults, so it seems, still need others to remind them what to wear. They refrain from smoking or drinking, not as the result of a conscious moral choice of their own, but because they want to prove to their parents that they are still good children.

In a society where the purpose of life is to produce offspring and perpetuate the species, health is not a matter for individual choice but rather a social or moral problem. A Chinese person is responsible both for the procreation of the next generation and for the nourishment of the older generation. He is therefore never an independent unit. Upbringing is not only an investment, it is a way of controlling the personal development of the younger generation, so that they will resemble the old. Among Overseas Chinese, the older generation find it more difficult to control the young. But in the mainland, through the confessional ‘exchange of Hearts-and-Minds’ 交心, the government has total control, just as a father controls his son.

from Lung-kee Sun, The “Deep Structure” of Chinese Culture
孫隆基,《中國文化的 “深層結構”》, 香港集賢社, 1982
trans. in Barmé and John Minford, Seeds of Fire
Chinese Voices of Conscience, 1988, p.164

On the social media site MOPTT one Netizen [Zheng Li 鄭立 — Stand News Editorial Note] offered the following explanation of why Chinese people will support the armed repression of the Hong Kong protests:

‘It’s because they are confronted by the fact that there are people who will not just surrender. You might wonder: Why don’t they join together so everyone can oppose the oppressors who are persecuting everyone? Because it is an affront to their sense of personal dignity.

‘Here in China, they think to themselves, we have a perfect situation in which everyone just puts up with the status quo without offering any resistance. Acquiescence is a staple of everyday life. But, if all of a sudden, you start offering resistance, what are in effect saying is that “I too can resist”.

‘But I don’t offer any resistance because the truth of the matter is that I’m a spineless coward. And here you go confronting me like this — how bad do you think that makes me feel?’

[— see chenglap (無想流流星拳),
‘很多人建議武力鎮壓香港 你們知道嗎?’,
MOPTT, 16 August 2019]

[Note: In his essay ‘We Are Hong Kong, quoted earlier, Lee Yee, also quoted a famous line from Lu Xun:

‘The generations of Chinese people who lived [as the writer Lu Xun put it in 1925] in “periods when we longed in vain to be slaves” or in “periods when we succeeded in becoming slaves for a time” [— he goes on to say: ‘These periods form a cycle of what earlier scholars call “times of good rule” and “times of confusion” ’ — trans. Xianyi and Gladys Yang]

trans.]

The best footnote I can offer to that interpretation of the situation is that those who make a big noise about their patriotic fervour, are not particularly patriotic, nor are they necessarily particularly satisfied with the Communist Party. After all, in China there certainly are people who are unhappy with the state of things. But what can they do with their disgruntlement? If they protest they will be crushed. So, they prefer to make things easy for themselves by mocking us here in Hong Kong as ‘Running Dogs of American Imperialism’ and forcing us all to kneel in submission to the Celestial Empire.

ppt上有網民(編按:鄭立)寫,為什麼中國人會支持鎮壓香港,「這樣的人如果看到有人不願屈服,只會感到礙眼,為何不是一起反抗那些欺負人的人?因為這傷害到他們的尊嚴。明明好端端的大家都不反抗,接受了是日常就可以了,你在反抗,不就代表其實我也是可以反抗的,只是自己是個窩囊廢所以才不敢反抗,那多傷害自尊心。」實在是最好的註腳,聲稱愛國的人並不因為有多愛國有多滿意中國共產黨,在中國肯定也有不滿政權的人,但不滿又可以怎樣,反抗只會換來鎮壓,所以他們情願嘲笑我們是美帝走狗,逼著我們對天朝下跪。

Everything — all of it — must be blamed on ‘Inimical Foreign Forces’. It’s the same with how children are regarded — things are always their fault, they are never, ever, the fault of how they were brought up by their parents.

千錯萬錯都是外國勢力的錯。正如孩子千錯萬錯都不是父母教養的錯。

When my mother was trying to explain to her parents — my grandparents — why Hongkongers felt compelled to protest and resist, she burst out with the following:

‘It’s actually a cultural divide: they way you raised us was repressive; whatever parents said simply had to be taken at face value. But we’re living in another era now: children enjoy their own freedoms and they have their aspirations. I didn’t raise my children the way you brought me up.’

我母在跟我的外公外婆解釋為什麼香港人要反抗的時候,忽然爆出一句:「這就是文化差異,像你們對我們是高壓的教育,父母說一就是一,但時代變了,孩子有其自由和追求,我不再用你們那一套教育我的孩子。」

I was silently applauding on the sidelines and it was a further insight into how caged birds lost the ability to fly.

[Note: As Lee Yee has noted:

Someone who is long inured to living in a servile and submissive state learns from the very start that their existence is contingent upon the control of others. Or, as the Russian-Chilean film director Alejandro Jodorowsky put it:

‘A Bird Born in a Cage Will Think Flying Is an Illness.’

Translator’s addition — The rest of the quotation is:

A bird is born to be free. Hence, if it is locked up in a cage, it will feel like its whole essence is being limited to a tiny slice. It is as if its wings were cut off, along with one of its most characteristic traits, its ability to fly.

from Lee Yee, ‘We Are Hong Kong’
China Heritage, 22 July 2019]

我在旁邊默默鼓掌,同時明白籠裡的鳥是怎樣喪失飛翔的能力。

To most Chinese people Hong Kong is not so much a place populated by compatriots, as just somewhere to shop — a city where they got a certain bag or a particular item of clothing. When the ‘brand’ starts acting up and isn’t obedient any more, they think they can simply roll out the 1.4 billion to crush us underfoot. The reality is that they’ve never given a damn about us or how we live our lives. I’d even go so far as to say that generally such people don’t give a damn about other Chinese either.

香港對於大部分的中國人來說,與其說是同胞,不如說是一個手袋一件衣服,品牌不聽話隨時可以用十四億人口輾過,香港人的死活從來不是他們關心的事,我甚至懷疑,連中國人民的死活也不是。

Nonetheless, I live in hope. You see, I know that we are not alone whenever:

  • I get a private message from someone on the Mainland who says they want to do something to support Hong Kong;
  • Chinese immigrant students [from the Mainland] that I’ve taught leave messages on Facebook calling for freedom;
  • I see all those Chinese ID cards on which their owners have written words of support for Hong Kong;
  • Those people who came over to Hong Kong to support the Anti-Extradition Bill Protests suddenly go missing;
  • Chinese students studying in Hong Kong are arrested because of the demonstrations;
  • The messages left on Pincong [品蔥, a popular online platform frequented by Mainlanders who have access to VPNs] that make me cry; as well as,
  • Those countless people in China itself who are fighting hard for freedom and who pay the price with their lives when trying to reveal the truth about things…

In a world suffused in blood red, I know we are not alone.

但我還是懷有希望的。當有身處中國的人私訊我說他們也想為香港出一分力、曾經教過的新移民學生在臉書上為自由吶喊、一張張寫著支持香港的中國身份證、來香港支持反送中運動然後被失蹤的人、在港因參與示威被捕的中國留學生、品蔥上一條條讓我落淚的留言、還有無數在國內苦苦爭取自由以生命發掘真相的人⋯⋯在鋪天蓋地血紅中,我知道我們並不孤單。

When the darkness passes surely we will all be able to meet, even though I have no idea when that may be. But surely that time will come.

我們終將會在沒有黑暗的地方相遇。雖然不知道這一天什麼時候才到來,但一定會的。

Let me end by saying: I’ll see you at Victoria Park on the 18th of August. Our crowds must make sure that the place is full to overflowing. We are our own best hope; we are also the hope for so many others in the dark.

最後,818,維園見,無論如何都要塞爆,無論如何都要好多好多人,我們是自己的希望,也是許多在暗夜裡的人的希望。

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Author’s Addition:

There have been responses to that ‘Letter to Mainland Compatriots from a Hong Kong Protester’. Elsewhere on Pincong, someone left a message in the section devoted to that Global Times Reporter cum-Agent: 

‘I feel ashamed about Hong Kong: they are still calling us Compatriots, but I know we don’t deserve that honour.’

These words bring tears to my eyes. I’m grateful that you’ve allowed us to hear a voice of dissent.

*品蔥上《香港抗爭者告內地同胞書》的回應截圖,品蔥上還有網民在另外一個關於環時特工的帖上留言說:「我觉得很对不起香港人,他们到现在还在叫我们同胞,我们不配。」瞬間流淚,謝謝你們讓我們看到異議的聲音。

I’m both moved and supportive: may we one day meet in a place that is not shrouded in darkness. And don’t be too anxious about clearing things up in regard to all those accusations to do with Hong Kong Independence. After all, as a slogan it might have some minor impact on shaking run-of-the-mill people who have absolutely no clue about what is going on out of their complacency.

Regardless, in reality, even if they didn’t accuse you of agitating for Hong Kong Independence, they’d come up with other crimes. Don’t forget that the people who tried to find out how many students had died [as a result of faulty construction practices] in the Wenchuan Earthquake [of May 2008 in Sichuan] were accused of undermining state power with the aim of overthrowing the government?

There’s absolutely no use trying to clear your name with power-holders such as these.

In the free world, things like independence are open for discussion and debate. They don’t come burdened with some pre-condition that’s treated like an Original Sin.

In closing, stay focussed on what we can actually achieve.

Be Water!

Source: Kitty Hung

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Translator’s Postscript

As Lee Yee noted in his essay ‘Young Hong Kong’ (China Heritage, 16 July 2019):

People whose spirits are enslaved become inured to their benighted state; they crave personal wellbeing rather than daring to resist. Despite all of that, one Mainlander offered the following observation online:

‘This generation of Hong Kong young people will be remembered by history. They are confronting an impossible situation and they are facing down a pitiless foe. They have endured the indifference both of the Mainland and of Taiwan, as well as that of the international community. Yet they have continued their lonely struggle regardless; theirs is a kind of courage that chooses to be ‘like shattered jade rather than merely surviving as an undamaged adornment of coarser stuff’.

‘Our reactions as Chinese to their acts of resistance are fraught with contradiction. No one doubts that the Communists want to transform the people of Hong Kong in such a fashion that they end up being just like any other group of commonplace Chinese. But the people of Hong Kong demonstrate that they would rather be defeated in clamorous and glorious struggle than herded like pliant swine. Each time they go into the streets to protest, the people of Hong Kong relentlessly humiliate every single Chinese person — all 1.4 billion of us.’

習慣做奴隸的人,受壓迫不會去抗爭而是自求多福。但在大陸網頁居然讀到這麼一段話:「香港這代年輕人是注定要載入史冊的。面對艱難的局面、最冷酷的敵人;面對兩岸三地、國際社會的冷眼旁觀,孤軍奮鬥,寧為玉碎不為瓦全。中國人看港人的抗爭,心情是複雜的。中共無非是想把港人變成普通中國人。港人的態度是寧可轟轟烈烈地死,也不做窩窩囊囊的豬。每一次抗爭都是對14億人的無情羞辱。」

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Update on the 18th August Demonstration:

Organisers estimated that over 1.7 million people — nearly one quarter of the population — participated in a peaceful, day-long mass protest, despite heavy rain.

Protest rallies in support of Hong Kong, China’s global cultural metropole, were also held in cities around the world. Mainland ‘irate youth’ 憤青, or ‘patriot thugs’ 愛國賊 engaged in out various forms of disruption, including physical intimidation, luxury-car hot-rodding obscenity laden denunciations (see Iris Zhao, Bang Xiao, ‘「愛國護港」在多地舉行 「醜陋的」罵聲不絕於耳’, ABC Online Chinese Edition, 19 August 2019

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Source: Kitty Hung’s Facebook page