Class of ’97: Michael Chiu feels Hong Kong independence is the only way to protect city’s culture

Chiu says he loves Cantonese for its creative ideas – particularly when it comes to profanity

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 10:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 10:00am

Meet the class of ’97, born the year of the handover. Their childhoods tell the stories of Hong Kong’s first two decades after the return to China. Some remember Sars, others took part in Occupy. Now, they’re trying to work out what their future holds – and how Hong Kong’s own uncertain future fits into their plans.

Michael Chiu Hon-yip

“I’ve just completed a higher diploma course in environmental engineering, and I hope to continue my studies at university. As a child, I cheered for mainland athletes during the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and supported the idea of building a democratic China.

“But after the Occupy movement, which I took part in, I feel Hong Kong independence is more practical. This is the only way to protect our culture and the interests of local citizens.

“Last year I attended a pro-independence rally at Tamar after some localists were disqualified from running for the Legislative Council. That event got my hopes up. I realised that there were more than a few of us who wanted Hong Kong to be a country.

“Our culture is unique. It is a mix of Eastern and Western elements. We also have a different history from that of communist China. I don’t want to see the two places become the same. I love our Cantonese language. Cantonese has taken in lots of creative ideas from local people. Even the foul language is so abundant.You can express your feelings with just one character.It is impossible to translate into other languages. Now some schools use Mandarin to teach Chinese. As a result, Hong Kong children are using more mainland terms in their daily conversation. This is bad. We will lose our identity if we don’t preserve our own language.”

“Many people think localists are irrational youngsters incited by others, but I just cannot agree. Localism means protecting the interests of Hong Kong people and resisting the invasion of foreign cultures.”

“Hong Kong’s problem is not about who becomes the chief executive, but the entire political system. I know it is very hard to overturn it, and we are still trying to figure out a way.

“I’ve just completed a higher diploma course in environmental engineering, and I hope to continue my studies at a university. It should not be a problem to get a job. Buying property will be impossible, but I’m not thinking about that right now. My biggest wish at the moment is to find a girlfriend. I’m an introvert, and I don’t have a large circle of friends. For me, dating is even harder than Hong Kong independence.”