An article written by Prof. Philip Fang, 3rd. generation member of a well known Chinese family in China (and H.K.)
Mr. Wang Guangya, Head of the Hong Kong and Macau Liaison Office, has let it be known that in the selection of the next Chief Executive for Hong Kong, the number one criterion would be patriotism and it is this issue I want to address.
First, a brief introduction of my background is in order. I was born in Hong Kong of a family with a proud tradition of patriotism. My Grandfather, General Fang Zhenwu was once the Commander-in-chief of the North-East Coalition Forces Against the Japanese, his vice-Commander was General Ji Hongchang, also known as a great patriot. The two men openly opposed Jiang Jieshi’’s non-resistance policy thus making themselves his arch enemies. Both paid the ultimate price, their lives in the service of their country and people.
My Grandfather, like General Ji, commanded great esteem amongst the Chinese Communist Party, especially the older generation of battle-hardened communists who survived the Long March. We are listed as descendants of revolutionary martyrs.
My Mother, Dr Fang Zhaolin, was a Chinese Grand Master artist and calligraphist and founder of the post-modernist Fang Zhaolin School. She was a graduate of Hong Kong University in the 50s when she set a record by getting her BA degree in Chinese history in just under two years. Later she went to Oxford University to study the Songs of Chu. There she made the acquaintance of high-minded scholars like Dr Joseph Needem, Sinologist and later Dean of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and his wife, the celebrated Biochemist, Lu Guizhen, Dr David Hox, an authority on the immortal Chinese classic Dream of the Red Chamber, Dr Qian Zhongshu, scholar and writer, and later Dr Han Suying.
They formed a life-long friendship with my mother and shared a common understanding of Chinese history and China’s ancient culture and a deep respect for the creativity and self-reliant spirit of the Chinese people.
Back in the 60s long before it became fashionable to travel to China, my Mother was making regular visits to the Mainland where she held exhibitions and exchanges with Mainland artists. She also saw the poverty, hardship and privations during the difficult years. My Mother used to say to us "The lot of the Chinese people for the past 100 years had been one of tears and sorrow, you don’t know what it is like to be a Chinese until you have tasted their sufferings!"
My Uncle Professor Harry S.Y. Fang needs no introduction to Hong Kong. His name was a household word in Hong Kong in the 80s. He was the former United Nation appointed President of Rehabilitation International. His pioneering efforts in the cause of the physically handicapped around the world is on record. Little known however is the fact that sometime in the 80’s, he made an irrevocable decision to switch allegiance to his own country and people.
Long before China became the economic juggernaut it is today, he became the first Orthopaedic Specialist to propose to the Chinese leadership, at a time when China was still very poor and its limited resources stretched thin over a burgeoning population of over one billion, that the rehabilitation of the physically handicapped, a left-out and all but forgotten minority of the population, is a cause worth striving for in the long-run, and they believed him and China Disabled Person’s Federation was established.
Today my uncle is honored in China as the founding father of China rehab in memory of the everlasting contribution he made to his country and people.
I made a detailed introduction of my family’s patriotic background in order to lend credence to the theme under discussion : “Patriotism should be the number one criterion in the selection of the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong”.
Patriotism presupposes loyalty and loyalty trust -- the bricks and mortar of all lasting human relations. Are Hong Kong people patriotic? The answer is an emphatic ‘No’.
Generally Hong Kong Chinese have no idea of their national identity and heritage and loath to identify themselves with their brethrens on the Mainland. They would rather identify themselves with the Taiwanese Chinese, Singaporean Chinese, Australian Chinese and American Chinese. They think they are superior.
The mindset that foster this superiority complex is no mystery because Hong Kong people worship money, power and celebrity. Hong Kong creates no true wealth. It indulges in the culture of money making money.
Back in the 80s, Hong Kong wages sky-rocketed and production moved inland. Hong Kong has since been reduced to a service-based economy. Its limited terrain became its new wealth generator.
Today over 70% of Hong Kong’s market capitalization comes from real-estate and related activities. The near frenzied speculation of land and real estate has made Hong Kong the most expensive place to live in the world today. This social polarization has moved Hong Kong dangerously close to the red light signal on the United Nation’s index measuring social upheaval in the wake of income disparity.
The Chief Executive must have the confidence of the Central Government that he can keep things under control in Hong Kong. Normally, the interest of the overwhelming majority of 1.3b Chinese should have absolutely priority, but in the case of Hong Kong the reverse is true. The Central Government has designated Hong Kong a SEZ and given Hong Kong people a carte blanche to run their own affairs. Hong Kong pays no taxes to the Central Government who also picks up the bill for the People’s Liberation Army which defends Hong Kong’s security. Hong Kong’s level of taxation is very low compared to other areas in the world of equal level of development. However, Mainland Chinese “Tax Pain” ranks second in the world last year according to Fortunes Index for 2010.
Hong Kong and Macau citizens have been issued Special Passes which enable them to go in and out of China without restrictions and to stay for as long as they want. Their Mainland compatriots must be green with envy because they not only have to get visas for Hong Kong and Macau but have to wait in long queues for hours at the checkpoint.
Vice Premier Li Keqiang on his recent visit brought the good news that Beijing has picked Hong Kong to be China’s future centre for overseas RMB trading. Hong Kong will be China’s future Zurich and Geneva, both unique financial centres of the world.
According to the United Nations report, Hong Kong last year ranked third in the world as recipient of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), a mesmerizing performance considering the size of Hong Kong. All these good things have happened to Hong Kong and its people because of one reason -- China.
Hong Kong should ask itself this question, “My country has done so much for me, what have I done for her in return?” It’s time that the people of Hong Kong take to introspection and ask themselves have they lived up to the expectation of the Central Government?
The way things stand they have let the Central Government down badly! Hong Kong people have behaved like spoiled brats cosseted with gifts, perquisites and privileges. Instead of showing their gratitude and appreciation they have turned on their own country. They have gone to the other extreme!
Take the mud-raking tabloid Zheng Ming (爭鸣)the self-styled people’s voice which vilify and attack Chinese leadership by names, and forms a united front with the flamboyant Leung Kwok hung(梁国雄), the highly paid Legislation Council Member who crashed peaceful rally and disrupted official meetings of the Legislation Council.
Donald Tsang, the Chief Executive was right in condemning his acts of hooliganism under the guise of free speech and assembly. It must be remembered that for millennium, the Emperor, the Son of Heaven, ruled from the capital and all bowed to his benevolence and absolute authority. Sedition or any pejorative mention of his name could bring public decapitation of three generations of the offender, and there would not be a whisper of dissent across the land!
These days are gone forever, but this does not mean Hong Kong should go to the other extreme. Hong Kong today seems to be used to lawlessness and anarchy. No! The law must be upheld and the Authority must not go soft on people who took the law into their own hands!
The open defiance of the “Gang of Four” Anson Chan, Martin Li, Jimmy Lai, Cardinal Joseph Zen and the Civic Party headed by Audry Yu, only points to the urgency for the government and the Legislative Council to push through Article 23 under which all these activities would fall under activities endangering state security i.e. Sedition. These people must be made to understand that they are Chinese citizens and subject to Chinese laws and sanctions. All people and countries should respect China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong and refrain from interfering in China’s internal affairs.
Hong Kong’s Courts and Magistrates seem to have allowed themselves a lot of latitude in interpreting their mandate under the Basic Law. They seem to have memory lapse and forgotten that their first and foremost duty is to defend Hong Kong’s indigenous interest and should they falter the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing has the final say in the interpretation of the Basic Law.
Western precepts of democracy and human rights cannot be applied directly to a country the size of China which for millennium has evolved around Confucius Ethics. It is bound to lead to unintended consequences.
Lee Iacocca, the flamboyant CEO of the Chrysler Corporation who singlehandedly brought his company from the brink of bankruptcy, and turned it into profitability again had this to say, “Trying to fit a square peg into a round hole simply won’t work --- it don’t belong”. Western ideas and western ways to solve Chinese problems is a mismatch from the start.
Today, China’s GDP ranks only second to the US. In the selection of National Development Models and priority-setting, China has always maintained an aloofness from the West and has never accepted western tutelage, prodding and pressure.
Equanimity and self-reliance had been China’s hallmark. In money management, China Central Bank favored a conservative and cautious policy. This has enabled China to stay clear of the economic melt-down which hit the Western economies in 2008 – 2009.
The recent downgrading of the ratings of US and countries of Euro area from AAA to AA shattered the myth that the US Federal Reserves and Wall Street knew better when it came to how to manage money. Currently, the US and Euro countries are battling the sovereign debt crisis. It’s everyone for himself. According to the latest IMF forecast, the prospects are grim for the Western economies, whereas China’s economy will continue to grow at a rate of 8%-9% per annum for the next decades.
The next round of competition will be in the economy field and the Chinese people are ready and confident. China will be recognised as a Premier Member and make its presence felt!
The timing of this article is both propitious and uncanny. Here in Sydney on a visit I was suddenly hit by a kidney disorder forcing me to postpone my departure and seek treatment. On the way over from Hong Kong to Sydney I picked up a recent book at the airport by Dr. Kissinger ‘On China’, and read it in the 8-hour flight to Sydney. Dr Kissinger’s analysis and his revelation of his dialogue with Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, which were recorded verbatim left me awe-struck!
My recovery requires long period of bed rest, and I used the time to re-read Dr. Kissinger’s book and took notes.
From reading the local Chinese newspaper, I learned of Mr. Wang Guangya’s patriotic call to the people of Hong Kong and the recent admonition of former Premier Zhu Rongji, who said “We should condemn both in speech and writing those who undermine, on a quirk, Hong Kong’s unity and stability.” The former Premier called on the Hong Kong people to abide by the law, strengthen stability, built on success, maintain harmony and unity so as to better coordinate themselves with the Motherland’s ambitious plan for the future.
I was born and raised in Hong Kong and China is my motherland. The relationship with both is of my concern. I should make my own contribution to them and this article is my contribution.
Finally, a word of advice to Hong Kong students. The level of both Chinese and English among students in Hong Kong today is ruefully inadequate. Their Mainland peers have long since overtaken them. I can say this with authority because language is my specialty.
I came from an old-fashioned large Chinese family where my Grandmother who had bind feet was the Matriarch. From her I learned two things: how to respect authority and to know my place in the family hierarchy. Students’ place is in the classroom where they learn and listen to teachers’ lectures, not in the open ground to demonstrate or in the Dean’s Office to protest his decision to give the visiting Vice Premier Li Keqiang the seat of honor. I am all in favor of bringing back corporal punishment as a deterrence against recalcitrant and unrepentant students. The ancient adage “Spare the rod and spoil the child” still holds.
I strongly propose that Dr. Kissinger’s book ‘On China’ be made mandatory reading for university students of Hong Kong. Dr. Kissinger’s prose is superb, and students should use a good dictionary. Through this book they will gain an insight into their own country and its leaders that they don’t even know about it.
This article is based on my observation and analysis of the current social situation in Hong Kong and my sentiments and affection for the Motherland. I sincerely hope that the people of Hong Kong will take to heart the overall interest of their country China and the Chinese people and ponder on Hong Kong’s own future.