Poppycock from the Mid-Levels

Annie Tse of the Mid-Levels writes to the South China Morning Post to accuse UK Prime Minister David Cameron of being “intentionally affronting” towards his hosts during his recent visit to China. The reason is that Cameron wore a paper poppy flower in his lapel – a widespread tradition in Britain and some other countries in the week up to Remembrance Sunday (tomorrow) to honour the war dead. This follows reports that Beijing officials asked the British leaders to remove the items, which they felt evoked memories of the Opium Wars.

That could have been a cultural misunderstanding; or it could have been a calculated attempt – if one that would strike outsiders as childish – to symbolically assert authority. Then again, it could have been someone’s idea of playing the victim card. China, like several assertive communities with a growing sense of entitlement, never lets an opportunity to be hurt or offended go to waste. Maybe this goes for Tse.

I seem to recall letters to the editor from her bitterly finding fault on some sort of nationalistic grounds with aspects of Hong Kong’s English legal system. According to her logic here, the poppy is a “chauvinistic symbol of Britain’s disgrace in China.” The fact that it is red, the colour of blood, makes it all the more unacceptable. No other symbolic use for the flower, it seems, can be permitted – though she implies it is OK to wear one on Remembrance Day itself.

After reading the letter, I take a stroll through Central. And what do I find? Hundreds of people buying and wearing the very same articles that Tse finds so disagreeable to the Chinese. As in the UK, they are sold by volunteers on the street to raise money for local ex-servicemen…

(I check Tse on webb-site.com and find no trace. But I do notice that today would have been the 698th birthday of Edward III. After clicking on the link and scrolling down the list of descendents, I find the offspring of…  David Cameron. Cosmic or what?)

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11 Responses to Poppycock from the Mid-Levels

  1. Hi says:

    I agree with Annie Tse. If the British wanted so bad to share their pride and honnor to their war dead, they can just do that back home. To Chinese people; the symbol is an eyesore. The Chinese delegation should’ve insisted them to take them off. It’s a matter of politeness and respecting your host. About those ordinary HK citizens who bought poppy seeds; they probably didn’t know better; or they don’t really care. But when you do a state visit to a country; again it’s a matter of respect to your host and not to wear something that will remind them that you’ve once invaded their country, kill tens of thousands of their people.

  2. Frank says:

    You would think a prime minister would be a little more culturally aware. Or at least have people to tell him when he is being a nob.

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  3. maugrim says:

    Really? The British should honour their war dead back home? And what of Hong Kong? It’s a part of China too, and it was the British, Canadians and others that died here defending it. When we think of HK, its prosperity and freedoms, think also of the young men who lie deep in Stanley and Chai Wan, those who died so that we may be free.

  4. too far says:

    the only honest response to Ann yee is she should go # herself

  5. AF says:

    Aside from which – it’s not the same type of poppy:
    “The poppy of wartime remembrance is Papaver rhoeas, the red flowered Corn poppy. This poppy is a common weed in Europe and is found in many locations, including Flanders Fields, the setting for the famous poem by Canadian surgeon and soldier, John McCrae, “In Flanders Fields”.”

  6. isomoliu says:

    The Chinese just love to play the victim. They cannot resist reminding people of their being bullied by foreign devils two centuries back and the still-burning shame of losing some barren rock in the South China Sea. I for one am eternally grateful for the silver lining.

  7. Sir Crispin says:

    And the Allies, including the Brits, didn’t do there part to liberate mainland China from the Japanese, for which we remember the noble sacrifices of the men and women that gave their lives for freedom?

    I think Annie needs to shut the hell up and say thanks to the people that gave her the freedom to mouth off in a free press.

  8. Dickshitter says:

    It used to be opium. Now the British and Americans sell them something even nastier. Cigarettes.

  9. Plod says:

    And had Cameron removed his poppy, he would have been so hammered by domestic public opinion that he would probably have had to resign as PM. That’s democracy in action for you, something the PRC leaders don’t have to concern themselves with. Hi & Frank, please note – muppets like you make my blood boil.

  10. Vile Traveller says:

    The levels of botanical ignorance these days is just shocking.

  11. lefty says:

    My estimate of Cameron went up a notch or ten because of that. Can’t stand the pals up North taking offence at the slightest thing “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” nonsense every time like a bunch of adolescent schoolgirls! Grow up!

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