Un-writing history

The latest official Hong Kong Yearbook omits the longstanding chapter on the city’s history…

The chapter dedicated to the city’s history in the Hong Kong 2021 yearbook recounted the city’s archaeological background, the colonial era, and socio-political changes preceding and following the Handover.

Besides the missing section on history, several stand-alone chapters were merged with others in the latest edition. Among them, “media and communications” was incorporated into the chapter on “home and youth affairs,” in which a section on the city’s mass media followed a part on the “dissemination of government information,” unlike in previous editions.

The government department concerned won’t give much of a reason, so we can only guess. Perhaps someone thought the account of the 19th and 20th centuries was simply too Brit-heavy. Or maybe the narrative of the city’s post-WW2 success reflected badly on the rest of the motherland. More likely, the compilers wanted to avoid describing events since 2019 – mass-protests, Covid and the Nat-Sec system. The official spin about black riots, foreign forces attempting a ‘colour revolution’ and exciting new improved election systems would look absurd juxtaposed with chapters full of hard statistics.

Instead of dwelling on the past, senior civil servants are attending lectures on One Country, Two Systems and contemporary China delivered by Hong Kong studies faculty from Peking U. In particular, they seem to be studying Xi Jinping’s ideas on the Chinese path to modernization…

According to Xi’s report during the 20th party congress, the “Chinese path” has five characteristics: a large population, common prosperity for all, a harmony between material civilization and spiritual civilization, a harmony between humans and the nature, and peaceful development.

Those characteristics distinguish Chinese modernisation from Western modernisation, which was characterised by “excessive greed,” “loss in belief,” “pollution,” and an “extreme gap between the poor and the rich,” according to an article published by a Communist Party magazine.

Not sure if Beijing issues a yearbook, but would it mention China’s Gini coefficient?

The first one I ever bought.

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One Response to Un-writing history

  1. Learn English with Regina says:

    Hey Hemlock, do you put those Hong Kong Yearbooks on a shelf, next to each other in chronological order? Do you ever throw a satisfied glance at your collection and get that warm feeling that you lived a life well spent? Are you going to bequeath your priceless collection to the British Museum by any chance? Questions, questions….

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