Conclusion: analytical thinking destroys understanding


The lead story in today’s South China Morning Post is that Beijing will put more emphasis on the ‘Two Systems’ bit of the ‘One Country Two Systems’ equation – and it will stress the ‘One Country’ part too. Coming after much ranting about how Hong Kong is part-of-China-so-shut-up, this message from ‘a source familiar with the central government’s thinking’ sounds a teeny bit conciliatory, and sure enough a lame plea for student protesters to go home follows. And that’s all on Beijing’s policy on Hong Kong’s autonomy.

The rest of the story turns out to be about the (now uncommon) study of Chinese history in schools, young Hongkongers’ poor understanding of China, the failed SCMP-GovtCriticsTopMarksattempt to introduce National Education, young Hongkongers’ need for a better understanding of China, and, finally, how terrible it is that young Hongkongers do not have a better understanding of China.

And so the search continues for the reason the Occupy/Umbrella uprising broke out. Maybe it was the CIA. Maybe the US and UK consulates. Maybe incitement by the foreign media. Or maybe Liberal Studies. And now another possibility: young Hongkongers’ inability to understand.

Wait! Not so fast…

Seen slinking away, with a relieved and evil grin on its face, is the aforementioned Liberal Studies. The high school subject designed to help kids to think for themselves imagines it is off the hook. But it’s not getting away that easily.

School exam officials, no doubt in the interests of transparency and to guide and encourage teachers and parents, have chosen this of all times to release examples of top-scoring answers. One question in the Liberal Studies end-of-year test was something like ‘Explain briefly why, in your opinion, everyone is so massively pissed off these days (give examples)’. There was, of course, no ‘correct’ answer – but for reasons we can’t even begin to imagine, the students who did best at thinking analytically wrote ‘crap governance’ (with examples).

Oh – the reason few students do Chinese history these days? Liberal Studies has essentially superseded it.

You almost feel a little twinge of sympathy for the Mainland officials tasked with balancing ‘One Country’ and ‘Two Systems’ and agonizing over how Hong Kong youngsters just don’t understand. They must despair sometimes.

I declare the weekend open with the suggestion that the subject be re-named Radical Studies, Counter-Revolutionary Studies, or just plain Anti-Communist Studies.

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15 Responses to Conclusion: analytical thinking destroys understanding

  1. PD says:

    The next stage in the quasi-mediaeval parsing of how many angels can dance on Lexus Leung’s, sorry a pinhead, is presumably whether there should be, under certain circumstances which should normally remain undefined, a comma in “One country, two systems”.

    Appropriate mitigation to the howls of protest from “some” quarters could conceivably include distraction tactics, including, but not necessarily limited to, whether “we” are allowed to write “2 systems” or — only for the Hemlocks and other troublemakers of this world — even “Two systems, but one country”.

    Fortunately we will be steered well away from asking — sorry questioning — in which part of the Evil Foreign Colonialists-Communist Bandits Declaration this undying principle/casual remark by a dotard spittooning dwarf appears.

    And I hardly dare mention the inextricable quagmire of professionals’ discussions of the intricacies of translation from Sinified Doublespeak to plain English.

  2. Cassowary says:

    A lot of students hate Liberal Studies. They’re forever whingeing about gawd, how annoying is it to have to analyse newspaper articles and actually form an opinion, can’t we just memorize the textbook, gawd, I’d rather be doing maths homework, at least there’s a right and wrong answer, gawd!

    So let’s scrap the subject and make them memorize a load of dates.
    Q: “In what year did Mao Zedong establish the Southwest Jiangxi Provincial Soviet Government?”
    A: “1930”

    That will be SO much more useful.

  3. PCC says:

    Cue self-satisfied middle-aged property-owning shoe-shining worm to write a letter to the SCMP pointing out that “one country comes before two systems”.

  4. Gooddog says:

    “The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. Doublethink is basically the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” Orwell, 1984

  5. Wanchai Stroller says:

    Talking of students occupying Admiralty, where are they all ?

    On a morning stroll today through the “HK commune” aka “city of empty tents” I could at most count a couple of dozen live occupiers with perhaps the same number snoozing. Certainly not more than a hundred in total .

    Guess they are all at class or home swotting up on liberal studies.

    There was also a rather pertinent comment today in the SCMP -on-line where someone pointed out the great disconnect between the Wanchai and Mongkok occupiers. It was to the effect that “Admiralty occupiers look down on the Mongkok occupiers as load of triad-biased, mahjong-playing, working-class plebs, whereas the Mongkok occupiers look down on those in Admiralty as snotty-faced, upper class prigs”

    Presumably those in Causeway Bay look down on all the others

    This does not bode well for the Great Socialist Universally Democratic People’s Republic of HK

  6. Maugrim says:

    The old ‘we need to give more information’ strategy . Students and indeed their parents, need only visit China to form enough of an opinion about the Morherlands’ shortcomings. As to Liberal Studies, it’s jam packed full of ‘chinese” issues, history and perspective. Studying Chinese history, given the juicy bits, is hardly going to produce a nation of obedient serfs either.

  7. Cassowary says:

    I say we just do away with this “education” thing altogether and punch the kids in the face. It’s not like they’re employable anyway after 12 years of taxpayer funded education. Just get a bunch of blue ribboners to punch them in the face and frog march them up and down Tai Mo Shan a few times forcing them to chant “Stability and Prosperity!” and “Balanced Representation!”. You’ll have instant loyal subjects for life.

  8. pcatbar says:

    The one country part of the equation has proved relatively uncontroversial in the 17 years of the HKSAR save for issues such as Art 23 and ‘national education’ both of which were successfully resisted in the interests of HK’s differences from the Mainland being preserved.
    It is the nature of HK’s own ‘system’, (as opposed to the other system in the rest of the PRC) that has been and is now very much the problem. The bi-partisan common view has always agreed upon its main features being a capitalist economy with strong rule of law safeguarding civil and property rights with relatively low taxation.
    The ever deepening division is between;
    1 those who want that system to develop so as to admit real universal suffrage, (US’) even though it might lead to a re-balancing of the economy, more welfare and higher taxes with less power concentrated in a land owning elite, and
    2 those who think the system should remain as it was in 1997 save for introducing more Chinese characteristics such as huge visitor numbers and increased Mainland investment in key sectors of the economy.
    The problem is that the latter as advanced by the establishment has inevitably increased inequality, reduced opportunities and, at the same time made HK feel ‘less different’.
    As a result the only beneficiary has been the ‘tycoon class’ and this is deeply resented by all other groups save for those service providers directly ‘feeding off’ them and the ‘lumpen ignorant’ who remain supportive of united front/DAB.
    This leaves a large working/middle class hostile to HKGovt and capable, (if there were real US) to have the former force for change in the system prevail.
    This ‘majority’, (partly quiet but now including also the ‘student vanguard’) is opposed by Beijing only because a local anti communist, (which is really anti-Mainlandization) sentiment has grown which risks real US in HK being a source of instability in other parts of China as calls there for similar democratization would be seen and/or used as a challenge to CCP authority.
    The only long term solution (compatible with peace and progress) for China, (let alone HK) is for the CCP leadership to find ways to adopt and support wider democracy throughout China while allowing that HK’s own system can include real US.
    If CCP were to do so it could ‘get on top’ of the issue instead of obstructing change and garner broad popular support (while still available in the Mainland) which would confer enhanced legitimacy for its future rule. Of course that is a huge ‘if’ but the CCP is not otherwise going to be able to retain power much beyond 2047, (at the latest) if it remains a reactionary force in a one party state. The economic challenges ahead, (now that the easier part of lifting 50% of the population out of poverty in the last 25 years is over) will take care of that.

  9. gweiloeye says:

    Correct me if i am wrong. but the student protesters did not have liberal studies as the subject was only compulsory a couple of years ago.

  10. Neils Bore says:

    If the students would only study their physics instead of sitting on their arses inside their tents (“I always meant to live in a tent wherever I went” : Winne-the-Pooh) they would understand that the County (as in “One Country”) is a Boson .

    Wikipedia : “An important characteristic of bosons is that their statistics* do not restrict the number of them that occupy the same space”

    *See Deng Xiaoping : ‘Socialism with Chinese Catcatch-statistics’

    However the Systems (as in “Two Systems”) are clearly Fermions

    Wikipedia : “Unlike bosons, two fermions cannot occupy the same space”

    China is a Boson, so is the USA, Germany, and even France. The The UK is still (just) Boson as long as the Scottish don’t become virtual and start emitting Haggis bosons.

    But within the Chinese Boson are the the PRC and HK ,which are both Fermions. Therefore they must remain in separate paces which is why we must have Two Systems.

    However if two states have different spins ( as in “PR Spin” where PR = Public Relations , not the other thing you are thinking of) everything is different .

    But that gets us into Dark Matter and what really went on in Henry’s cellar and now goes on in the occupied tents when the lights go out and Mama is far away, which is not suitable stuff or juveniles to read.

  11. Joe Blow says:

    Please support the revolution in every small way you can:

    Do not eat or drink in Semen’s bars and restaurants.

    Do not go to Lan Kwai Fong.

    Leave Lan Kwai Fong to the mainland tourists, the street whores and the gwai jais in front of 7-11.

    There are many good alternatives to LKF.

  12. gweiloeye says:

    Neils i actually understood that, ergo it must be correct. i am speechless.

    ps. ok not totally. hk the working example of a complete contradiction. ergo i have no idea. Airport lounge plus the 4 hours on flight of “can you help us by drinking this bottle of wine coz no one else is drinking it” and now sitting in a bangladesh hotel does that to you. lovely place recommend it to all my besties. CY are you here yet?

    why does it always smell like its on fire? i want to go back to hk where its alwsys someone elses fault

    sorry i am bored.

  13. PD says:


    Thanks for the comprehensive analysis, which any reasonable person would largely agree with. Just a few quibbles:

    By limiting the promises made about HK to mere legal and economic factors, there is a risk of throwing out the baby as well, namely our way of life/identity.

    It has been clear since 1982 or 9 that HK has little future, barring revolutionary change. All the rest is mere detail.

    2047 is neither here nor there in the larger scheme of things, and anyway change tends to happen at unpredictable times, perhaps because it is least expected then.

    Even if the CCP was overthrown, even if China became democratic and gave up its imperialistic aims, it would still wish to colonise HK.

    And even if China broke up, HK would still not gain greater freedom, unless it disintegrated into warlord states. Even then he hope of retaining a distinct identity would be slim.

  14. Joe Blow says:


    colonizer : colonized = master : slave

    But a slave can only be mastered if he agrees to the arrangement. And as it says in the last line of the chorus: “….we will not be slaves again….”.

  15. nulle says:

    Please support the revolution in every small way you can, avoid these businesses that directly support Beijing-HK gov’t-CY Leung and billionaire tycoons:

    – Avoid patronage of anything to any malls or major shopping centre, *except in HK public estates and cha chaan tengs*.

    – Avoid shopping at chains such as below: Watsons, Manning, Cafe de Coral, Maxims, Victoria Harbour Restaurant Group, Fairwood, Pacific Coffee Company, Espirit, TaoHeung Restaurant Group, Park n’ Shop, Wellcome, Chinese Resources Vanguard (CR Vanguard), Citistore, Saint Honore Cake Shop, Circle K

    – Avoid banking with anyone other than Standard Chartered and Citigroup.

    – Avoid buying literature from everyone except mom-and-pop stores, Apple Daily Media Group

    – Avoid any major hotels chains in the Asia Region

    – Avoid any flights operated PRC Chinese airlines, including Singarpore and Cathay Pacific Airlines.

    – Avoid doing business like: Air Canada, Swiss Re, FWD Financial, PetroChina, Sinopec, Emperor Group

    – These billionaires also controls most telephone, mobile, and ISP companies as well as the MTR, Gas and Electric companies, all HK Milk/Ice-Cream/Dairy production (Dairy Farm)

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