Chinese patriotism and the price of freedom

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 1995, 12:00am

I WAS stunned by the patriotic tone of Mr David Chu's letter (South China Morning Post, January 11) responding to my recent letter which took issue with his views on the number of foreign judges to be appointed to the Court of Final Appeal (CFA).

His views amazed me. I seriously doubt that the Singapore Government would roll out the tanks against protesting students.

I argued that the governments of countries like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are answerable to their citizens at the ballot box. They do not respond to democracy by using tanks.

I opined on the need of foreign judges in the CFA and Mr Chu accused me of worshipping them. Most pro-China enthusiasts like to tag any critic of the Chinese Government unpatriotic and a worshipper of foreign materialism. They see China and the Chinese Government as one and the same thing. It's like John Major telling an Englishman who loves the Conservative Party that he is a patriot.

Mr Chu sounds like those pro-China callers to morning radio talk shows who would mask their arguments with cries for nationalism. 'British and Americans are not to be trusted'. 'Chinese don't fight Chinese'. Say that to those dead students in Beijing.

Mr Chu is correct. I am Chinese and hold a foreign passport which I am not proud of but treasure, as it is an insurance policy. If that makes me unpatriotic, I cannot help it.

Rescinding my passport - an insulting act to my naturalised country despite the considerable tax saving - will not turn me into a patriot either, because the Chinese Government will never, nor should it, trust any compatriot who has become a naturalised citizen of another country.

Economically, Hong Kong will depend on China. Thus getting along with China is a must. But, getting along is one thing and fear is another. The Chinese government had promised the people of Hong Kong that their way of life after 1997 will be preserved by the concept of 'one country, two systems'. Unfortunately, a series of events like, the formation of the PWC, casts doubts in the minds of Hong Kong people the Chinese's sincerity in keeping their promise. That doubt is often reinforced by the promise they made to the students on June 3, 1989. What followed the day after was history. Therefore, it is also common sense to fear China.

The Democrats have been trying to establish a channel of communication with the Chinese government in the hope of providing China with the relevant advice on the way of life of the people of Hong Kong. After all, the Democrats are the elected representatives of the people of Hong Kong and such channel of communication will help reduce the Hong Kong people's anxiety about China keeping her promise of 'one country, two systems'.

It is up to the Chinese Government whether they want the trust of the Hong Kong people because they don't really need to. So far, they have bothered to listen to only what they wish to hear from a minority which has no representation of the people of Hong Kong at all. There is no better quote used by Mr Chu from Abraham Lincoln: 'You can't fool all of the people all of the time'. That is why each year thousands of families are still emigrating out of Hong Kong to countries with less prospects. They can't be all fools, can they? T. YUEN Pokfulam