HK Story to be rewritten?

The US State Dept denounces the HK Police’s arbitrary arrests on October 1. Another pro-Beijing figure calls for Hong Kong’s judiciary to be corrected. Anything else I missed?

You have just two weeks to go to see The Hong Kong Story – the core permanent exhibition at the HK Museum of History. It opened back in 2002, so it’s due for extensive refurbishment. But nasty suspicious minds might wonder whether the new-look exhibition will be Mainlandized, in keeping with the times.

When it opened a few years after the handover, some critics saw The Hong Kong Story as an exercise in post-colonial political correctness. (The History Museum’s previous site in Kowloon Park was much smaller and didn’t – from what I remember – have a comparable exhibit.)

Few would argue with the modern parts of the exhibition focusing on ordinary local life rather than on foreign governors and elites. But it seemed to try very hard to dilute the colonial era by devoting extensive space to geological formation, prehistoric settlement and the region’s not-very-exciting role in Yangtze-centric older Chinese history. This latter coverage reflected the ‘patriotic’ interpretation that Hong Kong had long been an important and thriving centre, not a humble ‘fishing village’ transformed by the wondrous Brits. In fairness, these displays were quite well done and interesting, considering the lack of original materials to put in them.

If Mainland ‘experts’ hijack the new exhibition, what shifts in emphasis can we expect? 

One likely subject for rectification would be early migration of people into Southern China. Rather than have settlers moving up from what is now Vietnam and Southeast Asia, the new treatment might be more in line with CCP-approved ethnic-based accounts, in which every Neolithic dweller from Yunnan to Liaoning is a proud, happy, smiling Han.

Other possibilities include more negative coverage of colonial rule and more emphasis on the broader foreign-victimization-of-China theme. But more likely would be a downplaying of the whole ‘Hong Kong’ focus, not just glossing over Western influence but shifting away from the nostalgic ‘localist’ themes (Hakka farmers, urban life ‘under Lion Rock’, etc) in favour of portraying Hong Kong as a minor, indistinct and dependent component of the Greater Bay Area and Glorious Motherland. Just my guess.

Patriotic Han invent fire, Discovery Bay, 8,000 BC
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13 Responses to HK Story to be rewritten?

  1. Knownot says:

    Our Excellent Councillor, Ronny Tong,
    In this week’s Letter to Hong Kong
    With skill averred
    That China’s word
    In practice does not cow us.
    We’re free to think or write or say
    Whatever we may wish today,
    And demonstrate in any way
    That Covid can allow us.

    And I expect that you’ll declare
    That China’s law is free and fair,
    And it is right,
    And we are right,
    And we’ll proclaim it everywhere!

    And yet not many years ago
    I don’t think he’d have argued so;
    And others too
    Are patriots new,
    And in the wind are bending.
    It’s sad and shameful, new and strange,
    How servers of the time can change,
    Correct their thoughts and rearrange
    The message they are sending.

    But I am sure that you will say
    That they are right to bend that way;
    And they are right,
    And we are right,
    And everything is fine today!

    – – – –

    with acknowledgement to ‘The Mikado’ by W.S. Gilbert

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    “…every Neolithic dweller from Yunnan to Liaoning is a proud, happy, smiling Han.”

    You forgot “rosy cheeked”.

    You think there will be any mention of mainlanders making the perilous swim over to HK from the mainland to escape insane communist policies and madness, thus building HK into the economic wonder it became? Didn’t think so.

  3. Casira says:

    If I remember well, there’s already a propaganda section at the end, that my kids always cross in a matter of 30 seconds because it’s so dull. Gives you an idea how boring they can make it.

  4. HKJC Irregular says:

    Expect the Treaty of Nanking and Opium War sections to be beefed up beyond recognition.

  5. where's my jet plane says:

    Tony Kwok excels himself.
    “The first question that should be put to him [Chief Justice] must be why he has refused to listen to the advice of his most eminent peer, Henry Litton…”
    Maybe because Litton is a senile turncoat?

    And his suggestions for packing a committee of inquiry (chaired by a highly respected senior citizen – presumably himself), Litton and Albert Chen, can’t be bettered…

  6. Big Al says:

    I’m sure that with Xi’s reported push for archaeologists to excavate Han artifacts across the Motherland, together with the “correct” interpretation of their significance, there will be lots of new exhibits at the revamped museum for us to gaze upon in awe. I expect that right now archaeologists are unearthing evidence that will prove beyond all doubt that Marxism-Leninism originated in China 5,000 years ago, and was subsequently stolen and repurposed by evil Germans and Russians as “socialism with European characteristics”, which of course has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people across the millennia. So, Emperor Xi, in all his omnipotence, is resolutely and unswervingly continuing the CCP legacy that began before the dawn of recorded time. As opposed to 1921.

  7. Joe Blow says:

    The editor of the op-ed page of the New York Times has resigned after the paper acknowledged that publishing Vagina Ip’s opinion piece was the wrong thing to do. The NYT has apologized.

  8. Known unknown says:

    Splendid effort once again, Mr Knownot.

  9. Casira says:

    By the way there are already a few official axis of “museum of history rewriting”

    “This research sets out to organise and examine the existing archaeological information about Hong Kong, in an effort to clarify the relationship between Hong Kong and mainland China, and reconstruct the city’s social and cultural landscape in the prehistoric period and during the many dynasties of ancient China.”

    “Through retrieving and organising Chinese and foreign records, this research sets out to explore Hong Kong’s role in the maritime world during the Ming and Qing dynasties, focusing on maritime trade and coastal defence.”

    And a heavy focus on the Portuguese community

  10. YTSL says:

    @Joe Blow: Which NYT op-ed page editor resigned in the aftermath of the publishing of Regina Ip’s opinion piece? Also, can you share the link to the NYT apology? Would love to see it!

  11. Knownot says:

    Joe Blow –
    As you say, the NYT has apologized, but the resignation was over another article, a few months ago.

    – – – –

    Known unknown –
    Thank you very much.

  12. Ip no facto says:

    @Joe Blow
    CE-in-waiting-only-in-her-own-deranged-fantasy-world Ip’s op-ed got me to thinking (after I finished laughing):

    It seems fashionable on both sides to assume that the National inSecurity fLaw has led to the end of the protests and thus has created “stability” when in fact I suspect we all know in our heart of hearts it’s only the coronavirus that has led to the current uneasy ceasefire.

    Once the fear of Covid-19 dissipates, the protesting populace who haven’t emigrated yet will be back with a vengeance. And the CCP and their quisling government will be caught out as always by the populace’s lack of docility because they have echoed and listened to their own bullshit so often that they’ve forgotten that it is just that: their own bullshit.

    To be generous, we could ascribe the CCP leadership with a super Machiavellian intelligence (which they all-too-obviously lack). Then we could credit them with releasing the virus and/or deliberately keeping it bubbling in Hong Kong to maintain stability, but even that tinfoil hat scenario is not really a clever play: it can’t be kept up for long, and is a very pyrrhic victory.

    Virus related instabilities are already rearing their heads: higher unemployment, more grumbling from the previously loyal tycoons and sycophants in tourism, transport, F&B, and — horror of horrors — property. And that’s without the additional NSL fun that screws royally with the Finance, Insurance, Innovation and Legal sectors, which will also filter down to the rest.

    Ip’s much vaunted “new stable” looks an awful lot like “further erosion of the government’s support base and legitimacy”.

    It’s reaching the point where Bauhinia gongs of all shapes and sizes and cash handouts galore will not be enough to soothe the ever growing pool of ex-supporters now disgruntled losers left in the wake of the CCP’s paranoid reflex reactions to everything Hong Kong.

  13. Stanley Lieber says:

    @ Ip no facto

    Your gentle criticisms are on target. Thank you.

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