Joe Chung: a Chinese who rejects all things Chinese
The author of a best-selling book who has moved his family to Norway continues to publish works that are not only critical of China, but also the entire Chinese race
What does it mean to be a Chinese? Now that everyone frets about national identity or its rejection, the anti-government website Stand News has started an intriguing series: profiles of Chinese people who have deliberately severed their ties to the country, its culture and/or its heritage.
Among the first ones it has profiled is Joe Chung, the best-selling Hong Kong author of Don’t reincarnate as a Chinese in the next life. The book is admired by many intellectuals and politicians in Hong Kong and Taiwan. No doubt it captures something of the zeitgeist. Chung’s rejection of all things Chinese is total – he is even critical of the language itself. He moved his whole family to the Norwegian city of Stavanger in the early 2000s.
Long before it became fashionable to advocate localism, Hong Kong separatism, Taiwan independence and anti-China emotionalism, he had been advocating all of them – except he sees Hong Kong society as inherently Chinese and corrupt as well.
If you want to learn something about what a “Chinese identity” might mean, this anti-Chinese Chinese might offer some insights as a Hegelian antithesis: I am not Chinese, he said, so I am not a Hong Kong person either. Hong Kong’s “Chineseness” runs deep. Overthrowing the communist state wouldn’t help. China’s problems are rooted in its DNA. The Chinese people may be the stupidest ethnic group there is, because of exposure since childhood to environmental degradation and heavy metals like lead. Also, Hong Kong and the mainland have been at the origin of global epidemics and plagues.
For Chung, being Chinese means being greedy, hypocritical, dirty, evil, cheap, stupid, superficial and fake. And don’t laugh, Hong Kong people, that means you, too. Even the language is to blame, because it is essentially illogical, and depends on memorisation rather than critical thinking.
Chinese culture and tradition is bad for children, like a virus. Filial piety? It’s just the government’s way of saying you need to take care of your own people because it doesn’t care about you.
So, why is Chung still writing about Hong Kong and China? Because it’s easy for him, he says, and he writes better than most people. He also thinks he would have been a better politician than most, though he lost in two district council elections in the 1990s running as a Democrat.
Well, who needs racism when you have people like Chung?