• Mon
  • Apr 21, 2014
  • Updated: 3:56pm
NewsHong Kong

Colonial flags a symbol of resentment, not a call for Hong Kong independence

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 3:34am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 8:28am

The display of colonial-era flags in recent protests is more about an anti-mainland feeling than a substantial movement for independence, most of this week’s SCMP Debate participants say.

The question arose when Global Times, a mainland newspaper run by the Communist Party, joined two former mainland officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs  to warn of growing “pro-independence” voices in the former British colony.

Lu Ping, former director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said in a letter to the South China Morning Post last month that advocates for Hong Kong independence were “sheer morons”.

Lu’s former deputy, Chen Zuoer, said the pro-independence force – which was “spreading like a virus” – should be handled firmly.

But Kennedy Wong Ying-ho, a Hong Kong delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and a director of the China Law Society, said much fuss was being made of “people using freedom of demonstration to vent ‘nostalgic’ sentiment.”

Ray Yep Kin-man, a politics professor at the City University, says it would be “an exaggeration” to equate flying the flags with the rise of a pro-independence movement. 

Alan Hoo SC, chairman of the Basic Law Institute,  said protesters should instead be brandishing copies of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which set out the terms under which Hong Kong would be governed after its return to Chinese sovereignty.

Dr Horace Chin Wan-kan  – whose keynote publication last year advocating Hong Kong becoming a city-state has inspired thousands of online followers  – says his campaign focused on local identity, “just like those states, city-states and dependencies that keep their historical coat of arms after joining a republic”. 

A group calling itself “We’re Hongkongians, not Chinese” on social network site Facebook says that the colonial flag carries global recognition and legitimacy.

The group’s founder, Dickson Cheung,  said there was a spirit of “social-contract” upheld by many locals in which all kinds of interference by Beijing in local affairs was regarded as inappropriate. He says all exchanges  with the mainland “should be cut off”.

Allison Wang,  from Anhui province and now a City University student, said exchanges between mainlanders and locals were necessary despite the latter’s resentment against mainlanders like herself.



This article is now closed to comments

Don't blame others. Don't blame China who is helping us a lot.
Blame your stupidity. Blame the HK Govt.
The HK govt has the mindset of making money and accumulating huge reserves from her own people. Apart from the Govt Associates (tycoons, civil servants, welfare dependants, licensed monopolies), all other non-associate ordinary people are most likely to be exploited.
HK is a rich financial centre for the rich and the vested interest. The majority poor have to suffer with long working hours (or two jobs) and live in poverty. Vote with your feet and leave HK for china where there is more opportunities.
Don't deceive yourself with the so-called core values
Democracy - it is moderation at best and majority tyranny at worst ! No smoking, dog eating, burqa.
Freedom - my freedom limits yours and vice versa.
Rule of Law - the disguise of Rule by Law
And these core values are to be betrayed as demonstated 12 yrs ago when we tacitly unethically and unlawfully deprived the rights of the 1.67m HK descendants mainlanders to unite with their families.
A Hong Konger
likingming: Best check the '50 Cent Party' rule book, but I don't think you can make more than ¥0.50 RMB just by triple posting nonsense. Also, I think the rules also say you can't get paid by making the mainland position look stupid in your posts. But, thanks, by showing how vapid and empty the ethnic nationalist argument is I imagine we'd be independent by the end of the decade. Thank you, you are our strength. :)
To assess to what extent have you been brainwashed in the 150 yrs colonial period, just ask yourself 3 questions
1.) Do you have an english name ? Charles, Peter, Elizabeth, Mary....
2.) Did you take the chinese language subject in HKCE (HKCEE) ? Pass or fail ?
(it was not necessary to take / pass the subject to climb up the official ladder by then. But it was a must for the English language subject)
3.) What did you declare your nationality when you apply for the renewal of ID Card, Chinese, English or BDTC ?
HKers have a lot to learn from Macau, Taiwan and South Korea
Macau - one fifth the size of HK and one tenth the population. Still she could deal with 13b mainlanders properly and most Macauers are proud of being chinese.
Taiwan - They insist mainland is part of Taiwan and most are proud of being chinese with 10% population have settled in eastern part of China. Most are young and capable.
South Korea - They are proud of being korean and are determined to unify their country one day.
People holding BNOs are just poor foreign subjects of British and they are simply used to fulfill the British government's vested interests. There are many examples that those BNO holders not getting any citizenship rights in the UK and not even working visa in the UK. If they think having BNO is equal to British citizenship they should migrate to UK and give a try. All those mentally and psychologically foreign colonized people should opt to migrate to UK, probably the whites in the UK will then opt to transfer them to Falklands because there are already too many foreigners in the UK and there are a lot of resentment about them. Hong Kong's mentally colonized people will add another color in the resentment in the UK, and problem of resentment in Hong Kong will probably solved.
A Hong Konger
thenext: If you take your narrative and replace the words "BNO" with "SAR", "British" with "Chinese" and "UK" with "PRC" you'd explain our current situation quite well. Except, of course, for your absurd racial fantasies. It is precisely this vulgar ethnocentrism and hallowed approach to 'Chineseness' that is making an increasing number of Hong Kongers reject Hu Jintao's call "share the dignity and pride of being Chinese". Constantly I hear that as the best argument (often shouted): "Your are Chinese!" So what? What does it mean to be Chinese, exactly? You would insult 1.3bn+ people by telling me it means to shut up and do what I'm told? To accept that everything we've build can be taken away and to deny our history? And where is this 'dignity and pride'? I don't hear it coming from your words, or Lu Ping's or from badly behaved mainland visitors. I only see dignity and pride in the way we Hong Kongers behave, working quietly and hard in cramped spaces peacefully protesting for modest democracy and civil rights and in our shift towards a civic minded and kinder society while China overruns us. I personally take no position, but no wonder the numbers of people rejecting Chinese ethnic nationalism for HK civic identity is on the rise according to the HKU polls!
to be Chinese does not mean "to be told what do do and what not". to be Chinese is, not feeling ashamed of being Chinese and stop trying to be a white British. I am as well a Hongkonger and know very well how proud the Hongkonger are to have for example an English name, how proud they will get if getting compliments from Westerners how Western they are and less Chinese. To try to act less a Chinese around Westerners to avoid getting embarassed to be "recognised as a Chinese."
A Hong Konger
I have never in my life imagined being Chinese meant not being a "white British" and I have never seen reason to be ashamed of an ethnicity. But you describe an outdated element of HK that a few Hong Konger once felt (I can't imagine any still do) in relation to his / her self-doubt within a British colonial context, Ghandi wrote of this extensively. But today, whenever we get "embarassed to be "recognised as a Chinese."" (as you said) we usually mean recognised as nouveau-riche Mainlanders when travelling abroad ('God forbid!' I hear you mutter). I take certain positive British influence (e.g., rule of law, etc) to be a part of us and our major social institutions, not something to angrily reject, much like some positive elements from China e.g industriousness, but more importantly our worldly outlook and home-grown interpretation of that has given us a unique synthesis that allows us to maintain ourselves in this pressure cooker we call home. Better still it grows, and has become more reflective, less frenetic and money driven and seeks a rational identity. This is my pride. But that's HK, none of that has to do with actual 'Chineseness'. To me its an ethnicity, and is too board to define culturally hence, like 'Asian', it means little to me. Yet to question ones 'Chineseness' stops people dead with no retort, as if 'Chineseness' is the supreme state of nationalist authenticity. But what does it MEAN?! It seems to have no objective meaning. So why should we be part of it?
camel. you are a racist through and through. what does race have do with this discussion?
We all do this. It really is nothing special for China and Chinese people. I am a Westerner, I wish I could change my appearance and just blend in. Our Governments and history - Chinese and British - are something we are largely lumbered with. Pretty much all Govt's are outspoken, make foreign policy decisions and self promote their respective nations. All Govt's in the world practice self interest survival first. We have no say in their actions.
People ranting on in a racist manner, and I am not saying you are one, need to understand that whether we are nominally British or nominally Chinese we are just the same. But please remember that a Chinese person living in say - Vancouver - will likely have a world-vision based on input from that country (Canada) and a Briton living in Hong Kong, likewise. My wife is Chinese, my daughter looks more Chinese than anything else and I wish I could look Chinese and just blend in. Nobody wants to stand out from the crowd. Nobody wants to be different. In time we can maybe escape from those shouting about racial or political purity. Alternatively we can get the Nukes out and start hammering away.
I agree, and some of what you are saying is "acting considerate". If I am abroad let say in Europe, I do not expect my food have to be Chinese or in many ways I can not act in Europe like I am acting in Hongkong considering the circumstances, the rules, tradition and laws in the foreign society. BUT I never would be ashamed of being a Chinese and if somebody ask me, I will tell them that I am a Chinese without suffixes. Why there is always the questions: "Are you an ABC? BBC? an Overseas Chinese?" As if you are an American Born Chinese, you are in some way better. Hongkongers are as well very proud to show that they have a British/American/Canadian/Australian etc. citizenship. Something like an upgrade for them.
A Hong Konger
Camel: Sorry, but your views on 'Chineseness' seem very dated & HK-centric. My original question was broader and rhetorical. Chineseness is highly subjective, obviously it's view from the prism of where your from. in HK, like Taiwan, it used to mean a broad E.China culture of the 'middle kingdom' that we protected from the communists, ironically from an individualistic & class based perspective. But now, it grows less relevant. The PRC (esp after 66'-76') no longer represents 'Chineseness' to us, when it tries it seems very political, mainland-centric and disingenuous to us, even though it is the new 'Chineseness'. For us, our old 'Chineseness', like our 'Britishness' and 'worldliness' has evolved and combined over time, our own shared experience and history has produced a culture recognisable only as a HK culture. I feel we are embarking on a renaissance of self-discovery, no longer a colonised Chinese people, but a truly self-realised independent people. This is not idealistic but an inevitable outcome that was put in motion the moment the Joint Declaration was signed, China has forced us to examine ourselves. I have a non-HK PP and am a loyal citizen of another country, but I am a HKer first. I have never lived in China and feel it is our neighbour. Chineseness? A physical feature. Chinese culture? Just like any other foreign culture. My experience & culture is HK, I am proud of its virtues & ashamed of its failings, but I will defend my home as best as I can. Will you?
no camel. you don't have a chip on your shoulder. nor do you apparently have a passport to flee when the commies come to arrest dissenters. ha.
it is guys like you who makes things worser than it is. If you are afraid, just leave. For me, I am convinced that HK and moderate Hongkongers can show the Mainland a way how it can be. Guys like you won't and go for confrontation. It would be better for HK if you just leave.
A Hong Konger
Camel: I feel that you are sending us messages from 1985; "Placate China and hope for the best, after all, what can we do? We are only small potatoes and Chinese after all." We are obviously under siege politically, economically and socially. It will only get worse and you know it. Our collective denial that China will destroy us before integrating us (its stated goal) can't last much longer. If we do not confront China then we will loose everything. Do you seriously think they care about us when the one China policy, that has outlasted even 'communism', is at stake? We must show that we are prepared to fight for every battle or we do not even deserve their respect. If we kowtow they will take everything they can without a second thought and will never get it back. You know this really, but you deny it, I understand I'm a Hong Konger too, but have courage, no one respects a weakling, least of all China. Besides, if China's sincere about a lasting 1 country 2 systems policy, then we have nothing to fear in expressing ourselves, but we know they're only interested in it as long as it serves their purpose, not ours, obviously.
Just imagine one is in China waving a flag of a foreign country!
Since 1997 Hong Kong is a part of China. Given her impressive achievements since then, I myself cannot be more proud of being a Chinese! Those who nurse ‘nostalgic’ sentiment of colonial days are certainly welcome to immigrate to England, join their colonial masters, and enjoy the so called "democracy, freedom and human-rights" they clamor so much about. For many of us ordinary people, we just want peace of mind ... enjoy our booming economy ... and don't really relish troublemakers in our midst! Surely, England would welcome her like-minded former colonial natives with open arms and grant them their much longed for citizenships ... for me, it's good riddance. JW
A Hong Konger
jw108: And to you, I say: Since 1997 Hong Kong is a colony of China. Given our impressive and peaceful fight for judicial independence, identity, democracy and civil rights, I myself cannot be more proud of being a Hong Konger! Those who nurse ‘optimistic’ sentiment of China's colonial future and our impending destruction are certainly welcome to immigrate to the mainland, join your colonial masters in China and enjoy the complete lack of "democracy, freedom and human-rights" that are completely absent in China. For many of of us ordinary people, we just want peace of mind ... to control our own destiny ... and don't really relish small minded, slavish, ethnic Pan-Chinese nationalists that have no grasp of Hong Kong or its history! Surely, China would welcome her like-minded current colonial natives with open arms and grant them their much longed for citizenships ... for me, it's good riddance. NOT JW
Despite the intangible core values of democracy, freedom and rule of law, HK achieves the followings
- High Suicide Rates (no better than that of China, charcoal burning vs self-immolation)
- Lower Birth Rate (lower than that of China, self abortion vs forced abortion)
- Higher Rate of Mental Disorder (witnessed in public places like libraries, markets)
- Fewer SMILING FACES on streets (if any, that must be the mainlander's. Or a HK psycho!)
Dirty statistics but anybody who has experiences of living in both places could tell you.
Mind your friend from abroad. Welcome to HONGKONG PRISON
- no spitting
- no littering
- no foul languages in public transports
- no eating and drinking in public transports
- no jay walk
- no smoking
- no stroller u-turn / no dogs / no kiteing / no noise / no sleep in Parks/Gardens
- no no seat-belt-fastening
- no unauthorized protests
- no wandering / no stalking
- no stroll without ID cards
- no begging
- no street performing
- no hawkering
no no no ....Hong Kong? NO !
likingming - you forgot. no morons like you. please. go jump of tsingma bridge. we also don't allow defecating on the street. we also try not to flee the scene after we run over a young child. we also try not to beat up autistic kids in our care.
its official. you are mentally handicapped. what you describe are the hallmarks of a modern society. go back to dongguan and check into a mental institute and get beat up.
Who is making an INDEPENDENT HONG KONG ? HK Govt together with China !
China gave HK the following privileges :
- Separation of the 1.67m HK descendants mainlanders from uniting with HK families
- Hong Kong Land for HK people only
- No freedom of movement of mainlanders across HK borders
- Use of HK currency
All these privileges breed anti-mainlander sentiment and ALIENATE Hong Kong from China
words cannot describe how moronic your comments are
@wwong888: likewise to you as well :)
likingming's comment are not only moronic but retarded and ill-informed all over all place. No China did NOT give HK those priviledges. That's called the Basic Law. If we had better mannered Mainland tourists we didn't even have to put up signs telling you not to spit- cuz not to spit, squat or sh*t in public are basic decencies that MOST people understand, wait, maybe not so in case our great Motherland China.
Based on your alias, I've views on who you are ! Wrong "888" and a woman born in 1978 with english name Kitty ! Ultra civilized not to spit, squat or sh*t in public BUT feel no shame of breaking up so many families by tacitly (unethically and unlawfully) approving the govt to deprive the 1.67m HK descendants from uniting with their families !
The 7.5 million individuals of the HKSAR, are they just "HK people" or are they also "the" HK People? The political and legal doctrine of the self-determination of Peoples depends on the historical and sociological concept of "a People." Question: How does "a People" qualify for rights under the political and legal doctrine of the self-determination of Peoples? Answer: By self-identification. Some old Peoples disappear from history. And, new Peoples are born from time to time, including via subdividing, and self-identifying with a new name. This matter of a particular name is absolutely key! Opting for a new name is a big choice made for a variety of reasons, including political convenience. For example, from the 1960's a significant subset of the larger French-Canadian People decided to rebrand as "the Quebecois People." And, certainly few Muslim Arabs self-identified as "the Palestinian People" before the 1960's. We can conceptually imagine the hypothesis of "the Hong Kong People" as a subset of the larger Chinese People. However, self-identifying primarily as "the Hong Kong People" would probably be to make a relatively clear political statement that would be heroic and/or tragic given the power relationships of the emerging 21st century. "Peoplehood" is assuredly a broad brush, abstract concept, but nonetheless one of the great motors of world history. Are HK people really up to the task of taking on history and making history? They alone can provide us with an answer.
3.5 millions British National Oversea in HK....so we are the British and also the hongkonger...it is very normal. Many ppl think BN(O) is just a passport. It is not correct. Please see your nationality in your BN(O). Do you know British Nationals (Overseas) are Commonwealth citizens and therefore enjoy certain rights in the United Kingdom? For example, they are eligible to join Her Majesty's Civil Service and, if resident in the UK, can vote there.
We have a very special relationship with China. We hope all Chinese can get the freedom to live or life. We would like to help them.
Waving colonial British Flag is not favoring independence or is it neither a symbol of resentment. It is a sheer endorsement of Hong Kong's colonial history and another invitation for Hong Kong's colonization by British. That's so simple a layman can see that. Social movements and resentments over government policies are normal in any society but they would create their own local or social identity to express such the resentment or disagreements. Waving a despotic colonial flag to express resentment of Hong Kong government is simply trying show that colonized Hong Kong was better than the one unified with mainland China, media in Hong Kong, instead of uncovering the truth is trying to cover up their true motives of waving the colonial British flags in the protests. If people have courage to speak for Hong Kong's independence, they should create an independent identity that equally negates the colonizer British in Hong Kong. I think Hong Kong people love to be colonized as some were happy during British colonization of the city and some are happy now.
I am a Chinese person that lived in Hong Kong during the 80s-90s (an era the height of Hong Kong's prosperity during it's entire 150 yr history while achieving the highest degrees of political autonomy for Hong Kongers themselves) and have now returned to China. You obviously have no idea what you're talking about saying "hong konger's like to be colonised", the colonial flag is a symbolic representation of the unique "western liberal system" (the system in its purest form before being interfered and slowly eroded in current country 2 system) that contributed to Hong Kong's prosperity and unique cultural imprint and a nostalgic representation of a foregone prosperous era. Hong Kong with the vacuum of the British era (**KEY**here it's a "western" era; it could've been French or Swiss) and returning back to a 3rd world country (PRC 's UN development index ranking is 160 something, that is still in the 3rdworld range, HK is 20~ first world status); and the huge uncontrollable influx of ethno-nationalistic but still 3rd world quality mainlanders penetrating HK and the ever deeper cultural exchange with mainlands due to economic gains; Hong Kong with the absence of macro western atmosphere and left over Cantonese and ever more increase of 3rd world mainland elements just feels abit like Guangzhou!! Hong Kong is turning into like Guangzhou soon! The colonial flag was waved out of this context to represent the unique cultural building blocks of HK's identity and nostalgic sybolism.
Replied to Oreo
That is what we are worry for. We will be the next "Guangzhou". You seems have a solid gain experience in China as you express this view.
A developing country to maintain a developed city. Work or not? All we know.
When I was young, my father told me I am British. When we travelled, we wrote our nationality to be "British". Now, We are being told that we are Chinese ???
British > Chinese....???
IF only......our motherland is less corrupt than the Brits, or its system is less UNJUST than the ex-colonials.........then we, HKers, will surely love our motherland, instead of loathing it!
Hong Kong people's complex feelings nowadays are understandable. However, here, people do need to put the relationship between Hong Kong and China into proper perspective. After the War, due to the 'embargo', Hong Kong became and benefitted enormously as the refugee centre of capital and cheap 'skilled' labor from China, which has propelled it to 'tiger' status. And in the late 70s and early 80s to date, due to the openning-up and 'modernization' of China, Hong Kong again benefitted as the capital and financial centre of China. To this date, Hong Kong continues to benefit from various favourable policies from China. Likewise, China also needs to recognize that Hong Kong has been an effective 'window' to the world and early catalyst for China's growth and modernization. Britain, as a colonial governor, has been a wise and effective administrator throughout the periods. However, Hong Kong people must recognize that it is this mutually beneficial relationship between China and Hong Kong that has made Hong Kong what it is today.
We are no longer a colony so the colonial flag is no longer appropriate. Please, people!
A Hong Konger
victoriachin: We are the very definition of a colony, we have our own identity and history, yet are ruled but people with a very different history and way of life. Despite being nearly 100 years older than the PRC, we were taken back without our consultation (at China's insistence) with the understanding we would remain a colony until the destruction of our culture and way of life is complete so that we may be integrated into the mainland. So we beg to remain colonial subjects because we do not have the courage to question our ill-defined 'Chineseness', articulate our local identity in any strong sense, or really stand up to Beijing. So for us, the question currently is, which colonial flag to we wave? The one given to us by a democracy or the one given to us by a dictatorship? The underlying question to that seems to be; are we believers in a vulgar ethnic nationalism that no one can define, nostalgic for a better time (it was better) or be true to our own sense of self or, true to history, be afraid and do nothing?
I'm truly proud of the people we've become and wish to be, but I loathe our cowardice, but slowly we are getting better.
"A Hong Konger" : Do the Shanghaiese, tibetans, mogolian, cantonese not have their own identity and history ? Do they need to create and wave their own flags ? Yes, they can keep their culture and way of life and even coat of arms. But to wave their own flags has gone too far.
A Hong Konger
likingming: A free people can wave whatever they want, the Scots do and will have a referendum on independence shortly, in Catalonia there are discussions as in Quebec and other places. But sadly no one is free in China, indeed the Tibetans who wave their flag have an unenviable fate and are being overrun by Han from the centre, same with Xinjiang, Mongolia broke away peacefully (with Soviet 'help') in 1917 and the Inner Mongolians (I think that's who you meant) have been reduced to cultural curiosities. Shanghai and Guangzhou are at the centre of China proper, and have no national ambitions. If you are a free people you can wave your flag and other free people will work with you in a spirit of mutual cooperation. In China you fear for your life if you do that, currently we are being integrated into China politically and economically, so no wonder we wave the old HK flag.
Perhaps some of those you mentioned will also have their own flags after the Soviet style brake up of China finally takes its due course…..
likingming - go back to china you commie
I've gone to china the moment when Hongkongers tacitly (unethically and unlawfully) approved the govt to deprive the rights of the 1.67m HK descendants mainlanders from uniting with their families in HK. How embarassing and shameful being a HKer ! How many families have you borken ?
It's true that we Hongkongers are caught in a tragic dilemma not of our own making. But is waving a Brtish colonial flag the most rational and appropriate way of expressing our frustrations? It merely sends the wrong signals and gives our critics and masters all the ammunition they need to blast us. While it's true that we can never break off from PRC, there's much we can do locally to safeguard HK's core values.
A Hong Konger
thung01: I would say the most rational course of action is to define ourselves, articulate a meaningful Hong Kong identity. Write books that extol our virtues and criticises our weaknesses. Explain to the world and ourselves what it means to be a Hong Konger, a discourse that stands up to philosophical and academic scrutiny. Create a strong sense of who we are and what we want to become. We already know what that is, but we need a narrative that we can rally around. Once we have done that then we are strong, until then we divided and weak. As it stands China doesn't need an excuse or ammunition to blast us, it is already working to (admittedly gently) destroy us, we all know this already. We must not live in collective denial (as we have for many years) that if we placate Beijing we will be rewarded, to them cultural hegemony is their goal and the stakes are very high; the legitimacy of China as a nation-state partly rests on Hong Kong agreeing to be integrated into China, so we should not underestimate our power. But our goals are much more modest than changing China, we just want a future that is ours. Given that China will deny us that no matter what, plus various other factors at work, it is inevitable that independence will at least be considered. Either way we are compelled to speak loudly, or we will go down without a metaphorical fight. I feel you my brother / sister, you want a peaceful life like we all do, but, long-term, the situation might deny us that.
It seems your version of the future is set in stone already……never say never.


SCMP.com Account