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  • Oct 26, 2014
  • Updated: 12:36pm
NewsHong Kong
SOCIAL CONFLICT

Handover official Chen Zuoer laments British flags at protests

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 September, 2012, 3:00pm
 

The sight of the British flag at recent demonstrations in Hong Kong was "heartbreaking", said a former senior mainland official yesterday, possibly transmitting the views of Beijing.

The British flag and the old Hong Kong flag were prominent at recent protests amid what appears to be a growing wave of nostalgia for the colonial era.

But Chen Zuoer, former deputy director of Beijing's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said Hongkongers should find other ways of expressing discontent.

"They are problems which should be resolved within the same family," Chen said during a visit to the city. "But why did some Hong Kong people wave the flags of a foreign country during the protests? Does waving the colonial flags help resolve the matters?"

But he added that Hongkongers were free to express discontent with the city government and the nation.

"Those flags should be sent to history museums, rather than being displayed in the streets," said Chen, here to promote his book Negotiations on The Handover of Sovereignty of Hong Kong - A Witness Recount.

Retired mainland officials often retain considerable influence. Chen is vice-chairman of the committee on Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Overseas Chinese affairs under the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political scientist at Chinese University, said Chen was subtly expressing the concern of some mainland officials about the flag phenomenon.

"But he needs to understand the origin of this sentiment, which stems from Beijing's interference in the chief executive election and the controversy over national education," Choy said.

Chen, a former member of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group that discussed arrangements for the handover, said he was also heartbroken to see a man carrying a placard with the slogan. "The Chinese scram back to China!" during a recent protest against cross-border parallel traders in Sheung Shui.

Chen said the mainland introduced the individual traveller scheme, under which mainlanders can visit Hong Kong without having to join tour groups, at the city's request in 2003.

But the scheme is often used by traders to buy goods for resale across the border.

Chen admitted there was a problem with parallel trading and said it must be resolved.

The government announced a series of measures on Tuesday to clamp down on parallel traders, after several protests.

Addressing conflicts between Hongkongers and visiting mainlanders, Chen said Beijing had given tremendous support to the city.

For example, during the deadly Sars outbreak in 2003 it had sent protective clothes and masks to Hong Kong, even though they were in short supply on the mainland.

As for national education, Chen said similar subjects were common in Western countries.

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This article is now closed to comments

raymondspchu
Go to Britan if you don'tn like Hong Kong! However you may find you are not allowed to enter, let alone to stay, even if you wave a Britsih flag. Wake up!
Camel
Waving Mao's potrait has nothing to do with missing a bygone era. Mao's potrait is serving as a shield and message to the anti-riot police. "Do not stop me and do not fight me. If you do, you are fighting Mao". A common measure to keep the police away in many protest march in the Mainland.
shouken
Thank you Camel. Your theory is more credible than mine. I completely overlooked the plausible explanation behind mainlanders' waving of Mao's portrait at demonstrations.
shouken
Chen's lament is somewhat unnecessary. The flashing of colonial flag is not unlike mainlanders waiving Mao's portrait at demonstrations. Whether in HK or the mainland, you will get people who miss an bygone era that to them signal (whether true or false and for whatever reason) better life or fairer soceity for them. the same person may for one reason or another protest against English rule too. I will say that HK's connection to the Mainland brings more benefit to HK than ills, but if the economic benefit is disproportionately snatched by the 1% elite (which is not what Beijing wants to see), the populace may indeed increasingly blame it on Mainland.
Camel
@jpinst
Yes, the ICAC is now a most effective government entity in the world which fights corruptions. Many officials from around the world regulary consult and visit the ICAC in HK to learn from them. Even officials from the Mainland. And yes, the Mainland is planning something like the ICAC but as HK needed decades to develop the ICAC and built it to what it is now, other need even more time as their countries are not that small like HK is. And correct me, if I am wrong but was HK ever a pluralistic society in the past? Mainland China can learn much from HK and HK should serves as a mirror and example for China. Not because HK was British but because the Chinese people can be more than servants and 2nd class citizens. By rejecting the Mainland China (on purpose I am saying the Mainland and not the government) and its people by looking down on them won't help and shows only the arrogance and the snoppishly of the HK people. China is changing for over 30 years now with a speed no other can keep up with and she isn't anymore the China of the Communist Cultural Revolution. But nothing can change within one day. If HK can help China to show the way a more free soc.then it should. But not with arrogance and rejections. Of course the Central Government is trying to get more involve in the HK politics but we should deal with it in a good manner and hold discussions with restrain (in consideration of Chinas position, situation and population) and not with immediate condemnation.
shafinhk
i do not know what family Mr. Chen Zuoer was talking about? was it one child family of China or So many children of Hong Kong. Having a colonial flag means nothing.
Although it is history and any civilized nation should not forget their history. if he wish Hong Kong people NOT to have colonial flag but a Mainland one, he should make policies which will win the hearts of Hong Kong people.
There is no room for National Education when Hong Kong is an International City. First allow us to join National Army and then our children will know what is National Education.
jackblack323
I don't think most HKers are anti-China and/or yearning for a return to colonial rule.
But imagine: you're living in a flat in Sheung Shui, having worked hard for decades to make mortgage payments and give your kids an education. You may not be wealthy, but you have enough.
And now, when you try to shop at a local dispensary, you can't get in for crowds buying milk powder. You can't get into your local train station for the crowds and boxes blocking the entrance. And you want to get on that train because the local shops now charge 10-20% more than other shops in HK because of demand.
You've spent your life working hard and paying taxes in your home, Hong Kong, to get to this point. And now you're shoved off the sidewalk by people with wholesale-amounts of ordinary goods. Your kids don't want to visit as the train station has become unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst.
How would you feel?
Camel
A problem that needs to be solved. I agree. But imagine, if the situation were the way around (which was more intensive some years ago). Stuff, food, grocery were safe in Shenzhen and cheaper than in HK. What do you think would the HKner do? Wouldn't they as well storm the shops in Shenzhen? Look at the dentists in Shenzhen. Alot of HKner go there because its cheaper and all quality dentists have no time to treat the locals. Their schedules are full. Prices and commissions went up and are unaffordable for local SZ-people. Massage prices went up, prices in the Restaurants went up. Are the HKner actually so much different?
jackblack323
If the PRC govt enforced food-safety and other quality-control issues, this situation would not exist. Do you think mainland mothers WANT to buy marked-up milk powder from smugglers?
Dentists and other skilled professionals can control their own quality. That's why medical tourism is popular worldwide. I know several Hong Kongers who go to Bangkok for medical/dental treatment--now countries like India are also competing for this market-sector.
lucifer
We'll…to be accurate, that was not the flag of a foreign country, it was the flag of Hong Kong. Perhaps that was the Hong Kong that people long for and not the Hong Kong influenced by a Communist Party Dictatorship from across the border…..don't forget most of the citizens in Hong Kong came to colonial Hong Kong fleeing from whatever chaos was occurring in China at the time. The ancestors of todays "Hongongese" escaped to Hong Kong from China….I think that is something that is most often overlooked. Today, we have a unique identity and culture, as well as value system that is totally distinct from what exists on the mainland.

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