Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hong Kong's short-term memory

Last year on July 1st I made my way to the yearly protest in Victoria Park. It was a rainy and windswept day, with umbrellas as far as the eye could see. My shoes became so soaked that my feet pickled afterwards. I made my way through more crowds than one typically sees in that area, unable to see much because of all of the umbrellas. What made a big impression was the loud voices coming out of portable amplifiers, people speaking (shouting) in Cantonese. I won't pretend I understood what they were saying or what most of the banners said. I tried to get up as I high as I could but I couldn't see much of anything. After a while I left, it was too crowded and too wet for me. I'd gotten the gist, that people were still upset that Hong Kong was now reunited with China.

What I remember most clearly was seeing that many Hong Kong people were holding the British colonial flag. At the time, I perhaps felt sympathetic to them, as they looked back with fondness on British rule, as compared to rule by the PRC. No doubt many of these people have done well economically, relatively speaking of course.

But times have changed and I now realize the inanity and naivety of this viewpoint. It occurs to me that many Hong Kong people either do not know their own history, or they are selectively forgetting it.

The bottom line is this: the British, and the West in general, never had China's interests at heart, and they do not today. China was to be used and exploited as a limitless resource to make businesses and crowns rich. There is no ambiguity about this at this point, history is very clear. 1

From the opium trade, to reparation payments, to appropriation of industry, China was deliberately and systematically picked apart while she was in the midst of civil war. Anyone care to imagine what the United States would be like today if during its own civil war it were attacked and occupied (economically and militarily) by France, Britain, Japan, and Germany? This is precisely what happened to China.

So my message to Hong Kong people is this: Take your heads out of the sand. The British, the U.S., the French, Germans, pretty much everyone outside of China who you imagine has your interests at heart, doesn't. Their intent is to exploit you and China economically and otherwise. Nothing much has changed in the last century. The PRC isn't perfect, by any means. (Neither is Taiwan's government, and anyone who thinks that Taiwan's government is largely better than the PRC doesn't know history.) However, both of these governments are Chinese, and so are you. At least for the time being.

So wake up.