Posts by Chris Waugh

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  • Speaker: “Foreign forces”, hope and Hong…, in reply to Seamus Harris,

    Well, that's certainly how your comment read to me. Was I wrong?

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2167 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: “Foreign forces”, hope and Hong…,

    Can I put in an early submission for the Friday music thread? It's a Beijinger singing in Mandarin, but this may not be entirely irrelevant.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2167 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: “Foreign forces”, hope and Hong…, in reply to Seamus Harris,

    What Mark said about context. I was specifically rejecting the Taiwan comparison because it does not work. By "one country, two systems" being a default that came about almost by historic accident, I mean precisely the current non-arrangement where neither side agrees on how to proceed, except that the status quo is working for now. Personally, I don't think either reunification or formal independence is going to happen in our lifetimes, I think both sides will muddle along as they are now, but I've been wrong more than once before, so who knows?

    It's fun playing what if? and of course, nobody can ever prove their alternative histories right or wrong, so how's this:

    Thatcher and Deng fail to come to an agreement through the '80s. China, remembering the events of '79 and well aware that it's only military advantage over the UK is in sheer weight of numbers, but the UK military is vastly superior in terms of skill, experience and equipment, is not in any great mood for risking a bloodbath. '89 further dampens the mood. But still, they're riding the nationalist tiger. Gotta do something. The UK agrees to return the leased New Territories, but digs its heels in over Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, saying "You, or at least the Qing, ceded it! It's our sovereign territory". The UK starts building a defensive line along Kowloon's northern boundary as the 90s progress. '97 the UK returns the New Territories but holds on to Kowloon and the Island. China, trying to balance the risk of nationalist blowback and its reluctance to engage in any military adventures, lest things turn pear shaped and spark off that blowback anyways, says, "Fine, keep Kowloon and your poxy little island, we're turning off the taps and you can forget about any overflight rights". Kowloon and the Island revert to drastic water rationing like they had back in the 50s and 60s while the UK rushes to build desalination plants, and flights in and out of Kai Tak get even more exciting. A closed border brings HK's role as gateway to China to an abrupt end.

    But we'll never know, because neither of our scenarios happened. I do wonder, though, how much of your scenario is realistic and how much is an anti-communist knee jerk. It certainly reads that way.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2167 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: “Foreign forces”, hope and Hong…, in reply to mark taslov,

    I took the house price thing as a not entirely serious throwaway. I just thought it was silly. But the Taiwan comparison came across as a serious question, and I just don't see how that works. The two territories' histories are just too different. For starters, "one country, two systems" is a formal arrangement for Hong Kong, but a default that came about almost by historical accident for Taiwan. And if the pan-Greens win the next election there, it's a default that'll find itself threatened again.

    I dunno, the comparison Just Does Not Work for me.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2167 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: “Foreign forces”, hope and Hong…, in reply to mark taslov,

    On Media Take Toi

    Ah, thanks, I didn't realise Nickkita was on Media Take, too.

    I enjoyed Toi's intro, but I found the Taiwan comparison very, very weak. The history is entirely different. And house prices? Somebody send Toi to Beijing, we'll show him house prices.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2167 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: “Foreign forces”, hope and Hong…, in reply to DeepRed,

    In HK they still know how to protest.

    I think the Anglosphere has gotten rather complacent, while many in HK are seeing bloody good reasons to not relax.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2167 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: “Foreign forces”, hope and Hong…, in reply to Nickkita Lau,

    Thank you, Nickkita.

    I’m not convinced that the Communist Party was the sole aggressor in the 1960s riots, nor that the KMT was innocent of all involvement. But that’s by-the-by. Photos have been popping up online of protestors (not necessarily Occupy Central, some of these have been around for a couple of years) with colonial flags and even signs calling for independence. Extreme examples, probably, but still there. Didn’t HKU’s POP programme show a rise in HKers identifying as HKers first, rather than as Chinese? Funny, seems I’d need to turn on a VPN to open this page. And I’m sorry, but I did detect what seemed to be a note of nostalgia for the colonial days in your original post and in your “after the handover things have only gone downhill.”

    Obviously this doesn’t apply to anchor babies and the grey market shopping, but a lot of the behaviours HKers complain about, the public urination, spitting, queue jumping, etc, are widely despised and complained about by Mainlanders in the Mainland. Each new incident in HK, Singapore, wherever, is met with as much disgust here on the Mainland as is generated wherever it took place, both disgust at the particular behaviour by the particular person in that particular incident and at uncouth Mainlanders losing face for the Motherland. There’s a lot of discussion of the poor character (素质) of “the Chinese” (Mainlanders tend to just say 中国人 when the conversation takes this turn – read into that what you will), but nobody seems to have figured out what to do about it, and those who do actually engage in the offending behaviour carry on being arseholes blithely ignoring government campaigns and the demands of wider society to shape up.

    And just as everybody in Greater China and the diaspora hates on the Mainland, Beijing and Shanghai both hate on the rest of China (including mutual loathing), urban China is contemptuous of rural China, and generally the more developed regions of the Mainland despise the less developed regions of the Mainland. So, seriously, how much of the HK/Taiwan/Singapore contempt for the Mainland is about comparative levels of development and access to quality education?

    “Access to quality education”, because I’ve noticed that those of my students who have done at least part of their earlier education in HK or Singapore are noticeably different from their “purely” Mainland classmates, more open minded, more mature and generally better prepared for university.

    But discussions over expanding democracy and the election of the chief executive have been going on for some time. What has brought things to such a head now? What is the significance of the 2017 election? Was there a reason in the Sino-British Joint Declaration to give HKers reason to believe they’d have greater democracy by that date? Didn’t that agreement put a 50 year limit on “one country, two systems”, and how much of what is happening now is inspired by fear of what Zhongnanhai will decide to do with/to HK when those 50 years are up? Cack-handed attempts to include “patriotic education” in the school curriculum and tighten up security laws in recent years don’t seem to have helped inspire confidence. Understandably, I should add. Persistent rumours over the years of even HK’s English-language media self-censoring to keep Beijing happy are also worrisome. Jimmy Lai seems to be keeping the pro-democracy light burning in the Chinese-language press, but he can come across as knee-jerk anti-Communist sometimes, and is he the only one?

    As for language, how seriously should we take people’s fears? Combine with Taiwan and there’s a fairly big and highly literate market for Traditional character printed media. Also, plenty of Mainlanders, especially those of a more “independent” mindset, are deeply appreciative of HK’s and Taiwan’s free-er markets, which expands the potential customer base quite a bit. There are very valid fears for the health of local/minority languages and dialects in the Mainland, and far too many people insisting on teaching their kids Putonghua only, but given the strength of HK’s media and entertainment industries, do we really need to worry about the strength of Cantonese in HK?

    ETA: I've had some weird troubles posting this comment, and I see Nickkita has commented in the meantime dealing with some of the stuff I mention here. I'm going to click 'save', hope this comment appears intact, let my frustration with whatever has been causing this trouble posting subside, then have another look...

    Oddly enough, Russell's YouTube video was showing up, but SCMP link behaving like it was blocked.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2167 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: “Foreign forces”, hope and Hong…, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I should've known....

    I am discussing Nickkita's post. A certain nostalgia for the colonial era seems to have crept in to these anti-Mainland things, even with people flying colonial era flags at some protests.

    I understand the reaction against Central government interference in HK affairs, given that HK is still supposed to be under "one country, two systems" and "a high degree of autonomy", and that full democracy was supposed to happen within a certain timeframe under the terms of the handover. I also understand frustration with "hordes" of Mainlanders swarming HK supermarkets stripping the shelves bare of infant formula and other such goods, maternity tourism, and uncouth Mainland visitors flagrantly violating HK's social norms.

    But I don't get this nostalgia for the colonial era as if it were all sweetness and light when it clearly was not, as if all this bad stuff has happened only since '97 and only because Mainland. This nostalgia seems to be very much a part of the anti-Mainland xenophobia which seems to constitute the greater part of Nickkita's post.

    And "complicated"? My other big problem with this post is that it's so simplistic it belongs in the pages of the Herald. I saw the headline and thought, "Great! Informed comment on the Hong Kong situation!" But no. Why are these people out on the streets? What is Occupy Central? Why are they reacting like this to Zhongnanhai's insistence on approving candidates for Chief Executive in 2017? What expectations for 2017 did the protestors have and how reasonable are those expectations? Who are the anti-demonstrators and what motivates them? But no, all we got was "Us Hong Kongers good. Them Chinese bad".

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2167 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: “Foreign forces”, hope and Hong…, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    (and I'm slightly biased since I'm learning simplified)

    Me too. I don't know how far through your studies you are, but my experience is that once you've got your reading up to a certain level, Traditional becomes a lot less daunting. Context and an understanding of how the characters "work" help a lot. Also KTV, which I prefer to avoid, but I have VCDs (yes! still!) and DVDs, and it seems most of the KTV stuff is imported from HK and Taiwan, or made for HK and Taiwan, but redirected, perhaps.

    You'll still see a fair bit of Traditional in the Mainland. Bank signs are the obvious one, but also signage in many upmarket areas. Some Classical Chinese textbooks, but I chickened out and bought the 北语 Simplified textbooks from their "foreigners majoring in Chinese" series, telling myself I'd switch to Traditional when I got my Classical good enough. Yeah, right. I've had friends suddenly decide they're going to text in Traditional for no obvious reason.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2167 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: “Foreign forces”, hope and Hong…, in reply to Russell Brown,

    there were no mysterious masked thugs attacking protesters.

    Yeah, that bit's creepy. Par for the course in smalltown Mainland, though. And Zhongnanhai has never been known for its PR savvy.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2167 posts Report Reply

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