That anniversary again

“June 4th is an understandably sensitive subject, but regardless of your stance on this controversial issue, we Hongkongers should be proud that our city is the only part of China that can openly commemorate the event.” Thus says an awkwardly fence-sitting Time Out HK, nervous perhaps of the possibility of scaring advertisers with a big mainland market to develop. The magazine has its roots in late 60s/early 70s counterculture, but – like Lonely Planet, Body Shop, Ms, Rolling Stone and much else – turned joyously corporate. The Hong Kong edition is a franchise.

A more partisan approach to the anniversary of the Tiananmen-and-environs Massacre comes from Epoch Times, a publication of the quasi-Buddhist-wacko Falun Gong sect, which likes to equate its own persecution in China with Beijing’s ruthless expunging of the 1989 killings from public consciousness. Now, it implies, the same treatment is progressively unfolding in Hong Kong, where the police confiscated activists’ statues. “Hong Kong … had a democratic system under British colonial jurisdiction until 1997,” the writers lament (these people also believe they are cultivating a ‘law wheel’ in their lower abdomen).

The Royal Hong Kong Police on June 4, 1989 – as suggested in the very photos I took that day outside the Xinhua headquarters – were impeccably behaved and low profile. Since the handover in 1997, however, many people have perceived a gradual toughening. Some of this, such as the enforcement of deliberately inconvenient restrictions on marches, seems to be home-grown, grumpy intolerance, of the sort we might expect from a government that is inept, under siege and panicky, and infested with authoritarian born-again Christians.

The most attention-grabbing signs of a clampdown, however, are those where the intended audience is in Beijing. The confiscation and subsequent return of the Goddess of Democracy made the cops look clueless rather than brutal. The Immigration Department’s ritual refusal to admit sculptors of Tiananmen-related works gets the city bad press overseas. The forthcoming confrontation at Chinese University over placing one of the statues on campus leaves the school administration looking foolish, almost arguing that the institution must bar any object that displays a political bias – which surely includes newspapers, student union posters and many of the books in the library.

It is hard to believe Beijing specifically orders such actions. The almost hapless manner in which local authorities go about being tough on selected June 4 activities suggests that it is largely pre-emptive. It’s like Time Out trying to put advertisers’ minds at ease. Subliminally, we are supposed to see a cadre flicking through the Big Lychee’s English-language lifestyle glossies, looking for seditious comment which can be used to persecute multinationals that have unwittingly endorsed it by taking out a double-page spread in the same publication. But the editors used the words ‘sensitive’ and ‘controversial’, so – phew! – it’ll be OK.

The Hong Kong government clamps down on the odd statue (and turns overseas Falun Gong adherents away) because senior officials are afraid of what might happen otherwise. As pro-Beijing loyalists like to point out, ‘two systems’ can only exist within the framework of ‘one country’. The Basic Law, which defines Hong Kong’s autonomy, is a law of the PRC, not Hong Kong. So, when something hyper-sensitive crops up, like the evil cult or the unmentionable events of 1989, we have to put on the right sort of show. The trick is to make a mountain out of a borderline molehill: a statue without an entertainment licence, an overseas visitor whose presence might sort of not be conducive to the public interest. Beijing takes note, presumably. Meanwhile, the main event tonight at Victoria Park carries on. Your statutory rights are slightly screwed around with, but not that much really.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government chooses this moment to ask for your views on its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights? Do you not agree, for example (para 19), that we can assure the United Nations that slavery and servitude remain illegal here?

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13 Responses to That anniversary again

  1. MarcFaber says:

    Hey you British dinosaur spook. Even your mates at Thames House know that Hong Kong people have more civic and human and political rights under Chinese rule than they ever had under the British. Keep stirring it up. It’s nice to know what the British Government thinks!

  2. Longtimenosee says:

    Even if we go with that, you would then have to concede that the current level of rights only exist because HK was once a British Colony anyway.

    How can you be pro political rights and pro Chinese rule at the same time. You sir, are absurd and confused.

  3. Funboy3 says:

    Dark Sabre

    Change the record. its getting boring.

    If you don’t like Hemlocks posts, why don’t you cfuk off & read somethingelse.

    You bailed HK a long time ago but if you have an interest in watching this great city slowly go down the shitter at least acknowledge the problems instead of your tired refrains about spooks.

  4. PETE says:

    why besmirch doctor doom marc faber’s name though?

  5. noantenna says:

    Longtimenosee: absolutely right.

    MF, go do a little research into the origins of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and Article 39 of the Basic Law and then kindly STFU. Your harping is a loathsome and disingenuous diversionary tactic.

  6. Longtimenosee says:

    I don’t think we should try and silence others viewpoints, I just wish they had some basis in reality, and backed up with some historical fact.

    For example, I think there is some merit in the China Politcal structure, and as our own Robert Peel thought that the downfall of Britain would begin with the advent of party politics, one has to wonder if he was right after the farce of the last GE.

    Not only that, I have been reading Hemlock since 2004, and he is rather anti-britain, and always speaks of being homesick for this, one of the greatest places in the world…our Hong Kong.

    So I fear all we have here is basic low level flame baiting from a poorly educated Troll.

    Perhaps a 1st year Uni Student from the Mainland or something?

  7. FukkMaber says:

    He’s not a 1st year uni student from anywhere. He is a first class A1 a**hole. Best approach is to ignore the little turd and his dumb brain posts. Without an audience he’ll soon shrivel up and die.

  8. Ted the Rat Thomas says:

    Speaking of Dr. Marc Faber, also known as “Dr Doom”.

    The original Dr Doom was Henry Kaufman of Salomon Brothers.

    The nickname, and indeed, the ‘doom reputation’, were *hum* nicked by Marc Faber.
    It is not an original concept.
    The negativism of Dr Faber in regard to market analysis is not original, or indeed, sincere. It is all pretension.

    And that ponytail is SO tired.

  9. Kim Robinson says:

    Ted the Rat,

    Yes, I agree. Off with the gray and bedraggled Qing Dynasty queue!

  10. G says:

    Funny how pro Beijing people were the ones blowing people up (literally) in HK during the cultural revolution, because they wanted to shake off the British shackles. Not many people realise but the very people who organised those terrorist acts later went on to form the DAB.

    The ONLY reason HK did not plunge head first into the cultural revolution and end up just another sh!tty tier 2 or 3 chinese city (has our Faber friend even been to one before?) was because of the British. So say what you want, but the ONLY reason HK is any better off than the mainland is because of them, and if you think the mainland is better off then apply for mainland citizenship, then we can talk.

    I also love educating pro Beijing overseas Chinese about the fact that they are still considered traitors by the average mainlander and indeed the government (even if they don’t say it in public), perhaps marginally better than pro independance Taiwanese but not by much. If those people or their parents were actually around at the time when the British were so evil, and tried to ‘flee’ to the mainland where the government is, will be, and always has been rightous and cares for every Chinese citizen, they would be SHOT DEAD.

    Why not save us the hassel, if you love China so much, then follow their policies, which means no commenting on forums that are not moderated by an official for a start.

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