Nationalistic rhetoric on government website is disturbing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 September, 2015, 5:26pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 September, 2015, 5:26pm

The Hong Kong government has an official website for the "70th Anniversary of Victory of the Chinese People's War against Japanese Aggression". More than 100 events have been organised at great cost and effort from July to December, at various venues in Hong Kong.

Commemorating victims and victory is entirely justified, but the themes of some planned events and some of the wording used also highlight a more manipulative political agenda that goes far beyond the commemoration ceremonies.

There is recurrent use of the word "aggression" instead of "war", the insistence on Hong Kong and Chinese "fighting as one", "talks on civic education" for the young through "promotion of civic education and organising committees". There is a "concert to commemorate war victory against Japanese aggression", references to the "World Anti-Fascist War", calligraphy contests for very young children on the same aggressive themes, and mention of the "retrocession of Taiwan".

These all point to a large-scale propaganda exercise directed at all strata of Hong Kong society; from kindergarten to retirement homes.

Some descriptions of events sound like outright cross-border propaganda. An exhibition at the Coastal Defence Museum is intended to "enhance Hong Kong public understanding of how Guangdong and Hong Kong people jointly lit the beacon of struggle in the War of Resistance Against Japan". Artificially promoting Hong Kong-mainland nationalistic bonding against the common long-gone Japanese enemy, whose president recently reiterated his people's apologies towards Asian nations, is not constructive and is a dangerous social exercise.

It may serve some purpose on the mainland, but in Hong Kong with its pragmatic approach to social and external policy issues; it is counterproductive and lowers the overall standards of the city's governance.

Promotion of hatred and blind nationalism is indeed a powerful short-term tool, but has always proved disastrous on the long run.

Having so many events over a six-month period is completely over the top for a small territory like Hong Kong.

I cannot recall any other key date in the history of Hong Kong being commemorated on such a grand scale.

Whether the funding comes from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department or Home Affairs Department budgets, or from other organisations, is a point worth investigating.

Louis Wong, Tai Hang