Britain played important role

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 October, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 October, 1994, 12:00am

I USUALLY enjoy David Chu's South China Morning Post column. It tends to be upbeat and pro-Hong Kong and I fully concur with such feelings. I must however, take issue with Mr Chu's offering on October 18. Whilst point by point refutations can be a little tedious, several of Mr Chu's assertions are, to say the least, contentious and deserve to be held up for scrutiny.

According to Mr Chu, the Political Adviser's office reversed 'the one China policy' and approved 'the booking of a public venue for a Kuomintang celebration'. I was not aware the Urban Council was required to approach the Political Adviser's office for bookings to be approved. Furthermore, whilst Britain still administers Hong Kong, there is a right of freedom of expression, regardless of what views may be espoused, amongst other things, this freedom allows people such as Mr Chu and myself to air our opinions, political or otherwise, privately or publicly. A fortunate state of affairs denied to many.

Mr Chu, having censured the right of Kuomintang supporters to have their say, then makes the breathtaking assumption that spies made redundant by the collapse of the Soviet Union have now offered their services en masse to various (unstated) governments with the aim of providing anti-China subversion and espionage services. A fascinating example of mobility of labour. Mr Chu feels China has a right to expect Hong Kong not to commit treason by siding with foreign forces against China. He buttresses this argument by pointing out that Britain ordered Hong Kong to sever relations with Argentina after that country invaded the Falklands. Surely the point here is that Britain and Argentina were at war. This is not the case in respect of China and Taiwan and even so, I reiterate that Hong Kong is not yet under Chinese sovereignty.

Mr Chu swipes again at the unnamed 'provocateurs' and 'local and foreign schemers' whose machinations are so pernicious to Hong Kong society.

Who are these people? I think we should be told. Actually, it becomes clear later. It is of course Perfidious Albion - Britain, which was all set to abandon the colony in 1967. (Really?) Thankfully, China was on hand in the person of Zhou Enlai to save the day, and here was me thinking that it was the Chinese leadership which brought about the whole Cultural Revolution with its immense bloodshed and misery, and that it was the efforts of the Hong Kong police which kept chaos at bay. You live and learn. Mr Chu deals with the little matter of the rule of law robustly: its supporters are idealistic to the point of being simplistic. Quite right, we don't want troublesome laws or democratic processes to get in the way of making a few bob, do we? That the principal reason for Hong Kong's success is the Hong Kong people is only half true. In spite of Mr Chu's bias against Britain, it was the presence of the British and the consequent peace and continuity which allowed the people of Hong Kong to make the place the success it is. Between 1842 and the present day, China has been riven by war, revolution and just about every other horseman a nasty-minded apocalypse could supply. During the same period, only the four years of the Japanese occupation saw a break in the continuity of British rule. It was not and is not perfect, but large numbers of the population of Guangdong have voted with their feet over the last 150 years to live under the revolting colonists rather than take their chances in China. By all means, Mr Chu, let's instil self-confidence and pride in our community and look towards the future, but let us not do it by creating chimeras of subversion and distorting the past.

William Gow, The Peak