Whoops – wrong patriotism

Hong Kong’s government supporters are in a bit of a huff.

First, there’s the Lead-in-Water-gate scandal-panic-uproar, now requiring 6,500 households to fetch and carry water.

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To establishment loyalists, this is an ambush by the Democratic Party (whose tests first discovered the contamination). It is a contrived and carefully timed fuss over a few molecules of metal, as blood tests on residents will surely show. The malicious aim is to make officials look uncaring about common folk (as if!), and smear Mainland construction companies as corrupt builders of tofu projects (ditto!). The idea is to put pro-government parties in an awkward position ahead of District Council elections later this year. This is typical of the slimy Dems, moving on from political reform to, er, livelihood issues. If they could get away with it, the loyalists would accuse the Democrats of putting the lead into the housing estates’ plumbing in the first place.

Second (according to sordid rumour), there’s some surprisingly intense mouth-frothing going on about an apparently innocent museum exhibition.

If you haven’t been to ‘Made in Hong Kong – Our City, Our Stories’ at the Maritime Museum, you might want to get around to it soon if you want to see it in its entirety. I MaritimeMus-Madevisited it a few months back and thought it was pretty good – interesting historical photos, now-defunct local branded products (instant nostalgia trip for everyone over a certain age) and other cool artifacts, from bundles of old money to rusty police equipment. And, as is usual at the Maritime Museum, it’s all arranged in a refreshingly offbeat, not-by-civil-servants way. Nothing untoward sticks in my mind from my visit, unless you count a video clip in which Allen Zeman appears. But of course other people’s minds are different: apparently, some patriots were hugely disturbed by what they saw and are very angry.

One problem is a caption concerning ‘One Country Two Systems’ stating that the UK’s Privy Council was Hong Kong’s pre-1997 court of final appeal, and naming ‘the Communist government of the PRC’ as the post-1997 equivalent above the local Court of Final Appeal. Despite the odd language, some may consider this an accurate description of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee that rubber-stamps ‘interpretations’ of the Basic Law that can overrule the CFA. The patriots, however, do not agree and consider it misleading or even offensive in some way.

More seriously, the exhibition mentions protests over National Education and the whole Umbrella movement. These appear in a film and, if I recall, one or two photos. It seems that the patriots are mightily displeased that such events are portrayed the way they are (objectively, I suppose) as part of Hong Kong’s history as a vibrant and increasingly aware community, when the official party line is that such dissent is an unlawful CIA-backed plot to overthrow the Communist Party and civilization.

According to this hearsay, Chief Executive CY Leung himself is furious at what our locally based Chinese officials would think (if they went to museums), and has ordered the skinning-alive of whoever is responsible at the Maritime Museum, which is partly government funded. So if you see parts of a museum boss being tossed in the harbour near Central Pier 8, you will know why. ‘Made in Hong Kong’ seems to have been sponsored by HSBC, so maybe they’re in trouble, too.

As I say, it didn’t really register with me at the time; the displays and recordings were interesting but in other respects normal. But revisiting the exhibition via the video here, I wonder whether the patriots are not upset simply about specific content, but by the whole Hong Kong-centric theme. It shows a Hong Kong that starts in 1841 and is, over time, colonial, struggling, growing, diverse, prosperous, cosmopolitan, inventive and proud – with virtually zero reference to the Mainland or its government, and no laborious motherland and integration stuff. Through the eyes of loyalist pro-Beijing types, it’s a shockingly off-message, even localist/nativist, interpretation of the city’s history. It’s actually quite a heartfelt and ‘patriotic’ exhibition – just the wrong patriotism. Better catch it before the thought-police get there.

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15 Responses to Whoops – wrong patriotism

  1. Nimby says:

    Oh my, the chairs under the NT village stores ceiling fans and in the Taipo/Fanling libraries aircon reading rooms will all be empty today. Everyone will be bused down to the ferry pier in central. The grams and grannies will all be wearing the latest Robert Chow T-shirt and clutching their vouchers, vita-soy lemon tea carton, and harping on and on about when will they be feed.

  2. wb says:

    Nimby, Spot on: it’s eerily quiet today in my village.

    Hemlock, Any information that points out modern Hong Kong dates from 1841 is a give-away of evil foreign influence, since everyone knows that 1842 was when the Emperor allowed the barbarians to sully the sacred fatherland soil.

  3. There’s another aspect to the water scandal – it’s a turf war. Public housing estates are traditionally the preserve of the DAB, who must be mighty irritated at seeing their Democratic rivals not only stepping into their patch, but actually doing something positive for the people there while making the establishment look bad in the process.

  4. inspired says:

    1841? But Our China has 5000 years of history, everyone here in Mainland knows this!

  5. LRE says:

    @Outside Influence
    Given that lead poisoning symptoms include loss of IQ, hearing problems, confusion, learning difficulties, constipation, aggressive behaviour and irritability, it’s no wonder the public housing estates are DAB and blue ribbon bastions.

    If they were actually capable of sophisticated sinister plots, you might be able to speculate that they’ve been deliberately using lead poisoning as a recruitment drive.

  6. delboy says:

    I was aware that last year, our administration put together a campaign to encourage people to visit some mobile buses, where they could deposit their old metal coins and either get the change back onto their octopus cards or donate the sum to a charity of their choice.

    Stupid me, I thought they were doing something good for the community. Many old folks have a pile of small coins that they can no longer exchange for such luxuries as buns or eggs.

    No folks. This is this worthless government sneaky way of getting all those old coins with the Queen’s head on it, out of circulation. These wankers are activity trying to erase pre 1997 history. They’ve forgotten one pertinent fact. Central Hong Kong district is still called VICTORIA.

  7. Pastor Flaps says:

    “My good man, taxi driver, take me to Victoria. Pronto !”

    “Ah Villa Victoria ! Waan-tsai lah !”

  8. Monkey Uncensored says:

    @ Inspired

    yes China has a contiguous cultural history of over 5000 years, and this deep cultural DNA is spread throughout all Chinese communities around the world – the mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, the West. No one disputes that.

    If you take time to truly understand traditional Chinese culture, you must recognise that the rule of the CCP has been a step backwards for the development and evolution of Chinese culture in the mainland, mainly the result of the cultural regression that has occurred in China in the last 66 years – the result of a group of the violent, brutal and ruthless CCP ruling class attempting to implement an untried system of collectivist politics and economics called “communism”. Keep in mind the CCP was founded by Comintern (a Russian political organisation) based on Marxist-Leninist thought (an idea created by foreigners), run by Mikhael Borodin (a foreign spy), and openly funded by the Russians until the mid-1930s.

    The economic experiment of the total implementation of a collectivist economic model failed (and Maoism was always a bad joke), with extremely atrocious results for Chinese society and Chinese culture in mainland. 30 million people died as a result of forced starvation from 1959 to 1962 in the Great Leap Forward; countless treasures, artefacts, and cultural “DNA” was irrevocably lost during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976 (and an entire generation lost their opportunity for education). The most tragic aspect of both episodes was their total stupidity, needlessness, pointlessness.

    In the great arc of Chinese history the CCP is a but a mere pimple (about to burst), an exclamation point to mark the end of a brutal, disastrous and self-destructive period in Chinese history (late Qing to now).

    The CCP’s power is predicated on a huge lie that a political organisation – i.e. the CCP – is synonymous with the nation-state of China, and its people, and that to dissent against the rule of the CCP is to be anti-Chinese or against the Chinese people. The irony is that the CCP is the foremost oppressor of the Chinese people on the mainland, as all the environmental destruction, inequality, brutal political repression and graft that results from over half a century of one-party rule clearly demonstrates.

    Learn your own history, open your eyes, and contribute to the rejuvenation of China through the practice of self-awareness and personal integrity:

    Mao’s Great Famine by Frank Dikotter (HKU)
    http://www.amazon.com/Maos-Great-Famine-Devastating-Catastrophe/dp/0802779239

    The Search for Modern China, by Jonathan Spence (Yale)
    http://www.amazon.com/Search-Modern-China-Jonathan-Spence/dp/0393307808/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436960734&sr=1-1&keywords=in+search+of+modern+china+spence&pebp=1436960736178&perid=16JX46XXR8K5BWZ739KS

    Objective, scholarly accounts of Chinese history that you cannot afford to ignore if you wish to genuinely claim that you love China.

  9. Laguna Lurker says:

    Bravo, Monkey. Well said, sir!

  10. Cassowary says:

    I thought Inspired was being sarcastic.

    The Museum of Coastal Defence out in Shau Kei Wan is an experience in whiplash. It has the obligatory Opium War display about Europeans seeking “hegemony” over China, a standard issue 1997 Commemoration Chamber, and a PLA uniform display.

    And then in the next room, you’ve got display sympathizing with the difficult living conditions that late 19th Century British soldiers had to live in while stationed here. Really? Aren’t they supposed to be colonial oppressors deserving of the world’s smallest violin? There’s also a Royal Hong Kong Regiment Nostalgia Room.

    The museum opened in 2000, but gives off the distinct impression that many of the displays were designed before 1997, and then had a bunch of patriotic stuff slapped on top to satisfy the new bosses before it went live.

  11. reductio says:

    @MU

    Excellent. That should be printed out and pasted on walls (especially govt walls) around HK. Let the revolution begin!

  12. old git says:

    The Museum of Coastal Defence’s display on the Surveyor Collinson is revealing. His 1841 charts were used until 1945. His letter to his mother in reply to hers to him, shows that, in 1841, it took 6 weeks for a letter by post from UK to HK, which is the same time that it takes today. Airmail is quicker: about 2 weeks if it is sent by HMRC which employs Malta, another former colony to act as a way point.

  13. inspired says:

    @MonkeyUncensored

    I certainly take it to be so, but looking around the internet found an article by a Foreigner (Who Doesn’t Understand China) disputing it:

    ‘[…]the Yellow Emperor Era has no relevance to any useful historical chronology. It was created in 1903 to demonstrate the unbroken unity of the Han race and culture as part of a new nationalistic ideology. As such, it serves only to promote Chinese nationalism and, perhaps, to impress the credulous with the antiquity of Chinese culture.’

    http://www2.ihp.sinica.edu.tw/file/1097kaBVwNb.pdf

    to which I say simply, argumentum ad populum über alles

  14. Nimby says:

    Inspired:

    Interesting to use that bit of German at the end… All these racial purity theories remind me of the Nazi “theory” that Christopher Hale mocked and (re-)exposed in, “Himmler’s Crusade. The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race.”

    The CCP still practices “Sins of the Blood”, where one inherits the guilt of bad acts by one’s parents and more remote ancestors. Hence the 10,000 years curse on Patton wasn’t just direct at him, but his children as well. By turn, the princelings inherit their right to the spoils by the acts of their CCP & pre-CCP revolutionary ancestors. Hence all this myth making has many functions, and the best thing about myths is there are no ugly truths to be “dug” up later.

  15. Casey Ching says:

    I am proud of your article. It was spotted on. I don’t know how you managed to hear such rumour but well done to share with public!

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