Whenever pro-Beijing minions said something provocative, people like Elsie Leung would always defend them with excuses such as “they have freedom of speech too”. However, freedom of speech is not an excuse for wrong things. Even “I will defend to the death your right to say”, it does not mean that I have to “approve of what you say”. Do not cover that with your so-called freedom.
You have a right not to participate in protests, votes or even to join Caring Hong Kong Power, a pro-Beijing goons club, but freedom does not mean that you do not have to be responsible to what you do. You have freedom, and others have freedom to judge you too.
Those who did not study enough like to ask people to “study for a few more years [before making comments]”; those who defend for HKSARG like to say “opponents are stupid”. When you point out that they lack backbones, they will be another Paul Kwong – saying that you are either affected by herd behaviour or “having a brain that does not analyse”.
Before I thought it was just because of their poor education, as the saying goes, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. A colleague of mine asked whether I went to protest on 1 July, and eventually the entire lunch became “City Forum”. My colleague is a smart person, and I think one does not have to be a localist to go to a protest. In turn he said, “I hate people opposing everything. Even my brainless student before said he will go to the protest for the sake of justice, is he a superman?” My colleague can mention some facts after reading. I also believed those who hate protesters are not all angry uncles in Victoria Park. But why so many people with normal IQ still so stubborn after looking at so many facts?
Buddhists use horses to describe the cleverness of people. There are four kinds of horses. For the first two kinds of horses, when they see a whip or felt pats on their tails, they will know the intention of the riders. This means – when people see others' sufferings, they will feel alarmed.
The third type of horses only know the intention of riders after a whip on themselves. This means – only when people experience the sufferings on their friends or families, they will know the pain.
The fourth kind of horses only know the pain after being stabbed. This means – only when they themselves experience sufferings, they will know the pain.
Even the first two types of good horses need to see others' sufferings before they become alarmed. If you told Hongkongers about “civil disobedience”, people will think you are an idiot. The freedom of Hong Kong comes so cheaply. We barely sacrifice and the enlightened “despotic” British administration gave Hong Kong rule of law and human rights, when compared to the hardship in Taiwan and Korea.
Those who are “immuned” in today's Hong Kong will probably be the latter two kinds of horses, especially those “community leaders” who own business in China. When they are stabbed by the CCP, they will then know the pain.
Twenty-seven years ago, China underwent a change in the midst of spring and summer, looking forward to the emergence of democracy and freedom. In contrary, the striking democratic movement ended only in suppression and bloodshed. Countless citizens and students deceased under the state apparatus. Those who were latterly reprised and put in jail or tortured were also hard to number. Starting the student movement in the name of patriotism, students would have never imagined their country to have been taken over by communist evil who harmed people for their own doing. Lies written in black and white can never disguise the bloody truth. Even though Hongkongers live in a slightly freer place, we, with conscience and justice, have never forgotten this history of 1989. Unfortunately, on the opposite shore of the river, the Chinese seem to have long been blinded by the dictators’ fine words and actions, drowning in the nouveau-riche Chinese dream. There is no one who combats the regime’s atrocity, except very few rights defence protesters. In retrospect twenty-seven years later, the Tian’anmen Massacre marked the last chance for the Chinese Communist to improve itself, which it had missed. After the Massacre, China bid her final goodbye to democracy. Human rights was ruined amid the heyday of the party authoritarian. While the authority expanded infinitely, corruption and collusion were out of limit. As the respectable culture was undermined, society reached a point of no return.
The Tian’anmen Massacre is not only a turning point for China, but also a watershed in Hongkongers building of sense of identity. On one hand, it destroys our fantasy towards China’s Reform and Opening Up, sparking the Hongkonger’s subjective consciousness; on the other, it, paradoxically, muddles up the destiny of Hongkongers and Chinese, knocking the subjective consciousness back down. Over the years, the Victoria Park vigil and patriotism have been chained up to be an inseparable pair of twins. Today, revisiting the historical meaning of the Massacre is to tell everyone that it is more important to recognise the pursuit for freedom and democracy, than the absurdity in patriotism. As we debate over freedom and democracy, they must lead us to a new subjectivity, which is exactly the self-determination that youngsters are now chanting for. As we have realised the truth of China being nothing but a party state, ‘patriotism’ and pursuit of democracy and freedom actually contradict one another fundamentally. ‘Building a democratic China’ shall thus not be included in Hong Kong political agenda. Commemoration based on patriotism shall also be put to an end. Similar to anywhere in the world, Chinese democracy should be fought for by no other but their own people. Hongkongers have no reason to take up such forced duty, let alone ‘building a democratic China’ from afar at such a cost in order to protect ourselves. Denial of the responsibility of ‘Hongkongers building a democratic China’ never means an end to interaction between civil societies of the two nations. Just like the interaction between citizens of Hong Kong and Taiwan, of course Hong Kong can share our experience with Chinese suppressed by the Communist. But the aim of such action must not be based on a non-existent ‘duty’.
The fourth of June should never be only about wailing and whining amid candlelight once every year. While some political parties and politicians keep on proclaiming their ideal to end the one-party dictatorship, they are yet bounded by the ‘Patriotic incantation of Golden Hoop’ day in, day out. They fear and worship the Communist regime. They do whatever it takes to meet officials from Peking, never even challenging a bit of the Communist legitimacy on our sovereignty. Hong Kong is always bothered by only one political problem. It is the cost that we can take. In face of the first Future of Hong Kong discussion, most Hongkongers and even politicians had failed to learn the lesson from the Massacre, lacking the imagination towards Hong Kong subjectivity, let alone the courage to take charge of our homeland. Together with the sugar-coated poison of ‘Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong, High degree of autonomy’, Hong Kong democratisation was only delayed. Unfortunately, there is never ‘what if’ in history, but only lessons. We may not be able to alter our past, but we still have a say in our future. We shall never make the same mistake twice.
On every 4th June since today, while mourning the deceased in the Massacre from afar, we pay our silent tribute to Hong Kong, a place which has long been betrayed, pledging our strong will for self-determination towards the future after 2047. Some may argue that the Chinese Imperialism shall only make Chinese factors ubiquitous and Hong Kong can never remain uninfluenced at this small piece of land. The new generation upholding Hongkongers’ self-determination is never an attempt to deceive, but to do something that is known to be unlikely to succeed. As a result of the Communist encroachment, revolt in self-determination and independence movement in Hong Kong begin. We are more than well-informed of the realistic considerations and limitation than anyone who only douses us with cold water. Yet, it is more than clear that: for democracy, we must stand and fight, but never kneel and beg. Democracy is always a process of self-empowerment and self-realisation. We therefore must turn our sense of identity into our weapon in protests. We must struggle against the regime and seek for the most political rights for ourselves, and our next generation.
Only a few years may have gone by, but the localist ideology which was once a farce in most people’s mind has already entered the major political agenda. Indeed no one can be sure that such localist ideology can usher Hongkongers into salvation. But at this fork of our age, one way is towards the deep blue sea, and the other is towards the bloody red hell. For this we make a clear decision: we may navigate to the uncharted, but we never mix with the evils. In the meantime, we must shout at the dictators that they must pay the cost if they wish for our compliance. Hong Kong, we must protect it with our lives.
The Beijing student movement in 1989 lasted for 51 days and nights, in pursuit of openness, democracy and freedom. It started from 15 April, the night of commemorating Hu Yaobang, and ended with the bloodshed at Tian’anmen Square. The carnage by PLA has shown the ferocious side of the CCP regime, and has caused a perpetual scar on the course of Chinese history.
27 years have passed. On 4 June, Chinese people around the world will commemorate this tragedy. In Hong Kong, the candlelight in Victoria Park has been ignited year after year. But at this key moment when we face “the 2nd negotiation for Hong Kong's future”, we need more reflection. The tertiary education sector has unanimously decided not to attend the vigil in Victoria Park, as the organizer, HK Alliance, has a rigid form of assembly, promoted the identity as Chinese and the goal of “building a democratic China”. However, not attending the Victoria Park vigil does not mean the tertiary education sector has neglected the Tian’anmen Massacre. 11 tertiary institutions thus organize this forum to make things clear – that is to look at the impact and significance of the Massacre towards Hongkongers from a rational and local perspective.
On 28 September 2014, tear gas was released on Harcourt Road, Admiralty. Black banners with “Disperse with Fire” were upheld by the police. The impact of the Massacre shadowed Hong Kong again. The fear was eventually a false alarm, but lots of people compared two incidents. The rise of localism trend after the Umbrella Revolution has resulted in some voices, saying that Hongkongers should sever ties with the Massacre. For years, the Massacre hovered Hong Kong: on one hand, it has formed the ideology and form of the democratic confrontation in Hong Kong; on the other hand, this is the fear of confrontation deep inside the minds of Hongkongers. Therefore, we cannot neglect the Massacre, but rather, we should know more about it. What is the relations between Hongkongers and “building a democratic China”? What is the shortcoming of traditional social movement in Hong Kong? Why did the tragedy in Tian’anmen not occurring in Hong Kong? We must face squarely to the Massacre from a local perspective.
Firstly, the dream of “building a democratic China” is as hard as a steel. The CCP is a tyrant who have absolute craze for the absolute authority. The CCP will annihilate all opposition powers at all costs, regardless of all sorts of criticisms, not to mention a carnage. Facing this ferocious regime, all Chinese have shown their staunch support to those martyrs and opposition powers, but there are fewer and fewer feedback. Generations of Hongkongers yearn for China, but the country has degraded to what it is now. The CCP regime has not changed its ferocity, yet the Chinese people has degenerated a lot. Look at what China has become now – the dream of “building a democratic China” cannot be achieved even with the aid of Hongkongers.
Secondly, CCP regime is definitely untrustworthy. Before 1989, the CCP said they will reform and open up; before the Massacre, Li Peng has a meeting with the student leaders. The twilight of a democratic China has ended in a dark night with bloodshed and carnage. Since then, we know that, promise is but a way to hide CCP’s ulterior motives on a negotiation table. We must remember that the CCP is not a modern democratic regime, with benefits and themselves in their minds and souls. No matter what kind of future Hong Kong will be after, Hongkongers should never trust a word from the CCP, not to mention any sorts of “collaboration” with the CCP. That is but silly.
The enlightenment of the Massacre is not confined to these two points. Therefore we organize this forum this year to look back on the Massacer’s significance, and look forward to Hong Kong’s future. We hope Hongkongers can really learn a lesson from history, look at our predicament today and prepare for the confrontation in the future. THE TYRANNY WILL DIE, GOD BLESS HONG KONG.
A newspaper headline on Hongkongers supporting students in Beijing, not to mention CY Leung's support at that time.
Since 2013, people might oppose the vigil in Victoria Park held by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China (the Alliance), but people do not reject commemorating the Tian'anmen Massacre itself. Many other commemoration activities of the Massacre turned out. However, this year, there are people (who are not pro-Beijing) to propose not to commemorate the Massacre in the future. Recently, Althea Suen, the president of the HKUSU, said "I think that within one or two years, commemorating the Massacre should no longer be on the agenda of the tertiary education sector, and a period should be put there." She added that "Commemoration of the Massacre based on the 'compatriot' identity should be ended. " At the same time, Samuel Lai, Acting Chairperson at Current Affairs Committee, HKUSU Council, said, "We should put an end to the commemoration of the Massacre based on patriotism".
The "wind" that blows off the Massacre commemoration candles might not be Beijing, be it vindication or further suppression, but Hong Kong's nation awareness, or more commonly known as "localism" . In fact, in 2013, regarding whether to attend the vigil in Victoria Park, columnist Joseph Lian already said, "The year Hong Kong does not condemn the Massacre in Victoria Park, the year Hong Kong independence is full-fledged to made its existence among us [ref John 1:14]".
Where Does the Tradition of Massacre Commemoration Come From?
Before asking whether Hongkongers should continue to commemorate the Massacre, we should first ask: why are there so many people commemorating the Massacre every year? Why the number of attendants is far less in commemoration vigils in Taiwan or Macau?
Some commentators said the commemoration of the Massacre in Hong Kong is not only out of patriotism, but also out of the pursuit after democracy, freedom and human rights, as well as the persistence to justice. This is untenable: there are so many tragedies in the world, and no society will commemorate all. Choosing which tragedy to commemorate depends on whether such tragedies are significant to that society. Therefore, human rights or justice cannot be the only force for the community to commemorate an incident for such a long time so regularly, instead, specific identity and community ties can.
Why would Hongkongers supported the Beijing students' protest in 1989? Why were Hongkongers having strong reactions to the Massacre? Why were there so many large scale of commemoration vigil every year? I would like to cite an analysis written by Leung Man-tao back in 2005:
"During April to June 1989, the unprecedented passion of the Hong Kong society is related to the identity as Chinese. Songs prevalent at that time include "Be a Brave Chinese", "I am Chinese", "Descendants of Dragon" and so on [...] After two decades of growth and separation to the Mainland's political and social environment, Hong Kong and its people have a chance to know more about its motherland and to "re-identify" themselves as Chinese. Many Hongkongers might not know exactly what the Beijing students demand, but they will spend lots of time to listen to the radio and watch the TV, to discuss the trend of the movement — the way to connect China and themselves, who were in a British colony. Therefore, compared to the 1 July protest, the 1989 protest is actually an unprecedented patriotic movement.
Leung also pointed out the support of Beijing students from Hongkongers were not only because of "the patriotic mentality of overseas Chinese", but also because Hongkongers hoped that the success of China's democratic movement can ensure the freedom and autonomy of Hong Kong, and preventing Hong Kong from the "death of Hong Kong" by 1997.
"Lots of commentators have pointed out that the [then] passion of Hongkongers was built on the envisage of the future. Many Hongkongers believed that if China has started a political reform towards democracy before 1997, then the handover in 1997 would not be that fearful [...] Democracy and patriotism have since entwined with each other, thus becoming the largest momentum of the Alliance, and the political capital and background of pan-democrats, including the Democratic Party."
The ending was universally known - the Tian'anmen Massacre. Rich Hongkongers applied for emigration; poor ones demanded to accelerate the progress of Hong Kong's democracy, and hoped for an unchanged situation after 1997 with a democratic system. But at that point, many Hongkongers still see themselves as Chinese. After the 1991 Eastern China flood, Hongkongers donated HK$700 million; in 1992 Barcelona Olympics, many Hongkongers supported Team China; in 1996, the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands conflicts have caused many people to join protests organised by the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands (ACDDI, and the movement is known as "Baodiao" movement), and make donations for them to go to the Islands. After David Chan Yuk-cheung, a prominent Baodiao activist who drowned around the seas of Diaoyu Islands, Democratic Party and DAB had an unprecedented joint candlelight vigil in the Victoria Park to commemorate this "Baodiao hero". Supporting the Beijing students' movements and commemorating the Massacre are ordinary examples of the "patriotic overseas Chinese mentality" by Hongkongers at that time — to be safe patriots outside China.
The Massacre Enlightens Hongkongers Politically, But Has Become Balls and Chains?
It is well known that the Massacre is the incident that enlightens many Hongkongers politically. Many Hongkongers participating in democratic movements started to care about the politics of Hong Kong and China, and started various confrontations. League of Social Democrats and ACDDI member Bull Tsang Kin-shing is one example.
When compared to recent "localist" movements, these democratic movements do not deny "Hong Kong is part of China" and "Hongkongers are Chinese", and based on these two principles, the activists supported democracy, human rights and autonomy for Hong Kong. The protest against brainwashing National Education in 2012 did not deny such principles (even they were led by new generation), and largely supported "loving China, but not loving the Party" — or "Hong Kong style patriotism". For the deliberation of the "Occupy Central with Love and Peace" and "I want universal suffrage" movement during 2013 to 27 September 2014, the main principle is not to challenge "Hong Kong is part of China". This explains why there were many youngsters who were not yet born during the Massacre went to Victoria Park Vigil during 2011-2014, and sung patriotic songs. This is because it was a stance against HKSARG and CCP. However, these democratic movements declined after the tearing gas shot on 28 September 2014.
Rumours of "cops have fired" or "PLA has came out of the barracks"" spreaded on the Internet on 28 September. Many people remembered the Massacre. In order to avoid the same tragedy in Hong Kong, they asked protesters to leave as soon as possible. On 1 October, students have formed a chain from letting other protesters barging the PRC national day flag-raising ceremony in Golden Bauhinia Square. It was said that the reason is not to give excuses for Beijing to launch a carnage. Such thoughts and moves are definitely related to the Massacre. Thus, we can say the memory of the Massacre has deterred some protesters from escalating their actions.
Whether the memory of the Massacre is a force or a hindrance to the post-Umbrella confrontation is a food for thought for you.
HK Alliance + Pan-dems = Kuomintang?; "Construct a Democratic China"="Three Principles of the People Unites China"?
The trend of Hong Kong independence has arised. Some pro-Beijing politicians said pan-democratic parties can be the "loyal opposition camp" that supports One Country, Two Systems. Then it is unavoidable to compare the development of Taiwan independence movement and Hong Kong in recent years.
If one looks at the political propaganda of KMT in the early 1980s, one can easily find out KMT often condemned Taiwan independence groups having close connections with CCP. After KMT has moved to Taiwan, they knew it was impossible to "counter-attack mainland China". After Chiang Kai-shek passed away, Chiang Ching-kuo even used "Three Principles of the People Unites China" to replace the slogan of "counter-attack mainland China". Li Teng-hui became the president in 1990s, and thus some old Kuomingtang members withdrew from KMT and formed New Party, in pursuit of ultimate unification. This move was welcomed by Beijing. In 2000, when Democratic Progressive Party started ruling Taiwan for the first time, KMT and CCP have become closer as they are against Taiwan independence. If Beijing sees the archenemy in Hong Kong as the "Hong Kong separatists", then it is important to look at whether CCP treats pan-dems in the way that CCP treats KMT as the allies of anti-secession, or Tongzhan subjects.
Chip Tsao and Ivan Choy have pointed out that what Beijing fears most is not lots of participants in the Victoria Park vigil, but rather, no participants at all. If so, commemorating the Massacre in Hong Kong may cause Beijing to be "unhappy" on the surface, but deep inside, CCP welcomes such commemoration because this is what Christopher Chung said, "being local without separation". In 1958, CCP attacked Quemoy and Matsu, the two islands held by KMT which are close to mainland China. On the surface, CCP attacked with strong weapons, and the US even asked Chiang to give up these two islands, but Chiang did not do so. CCP did not want KMT to leave, because if they did, the ties between Taiwan and mainland China will be completely severed, and the situation of Two Chinas will be formed. This is what Mao and Chiang opposed, but the US supported (Taylor, 2009). Commemoration of the Massacre might be the main emotional tie between mainland China and Hong Kong, and be treated as a tool to suppress separatism. Few years ago KMT veterans went to mainland China, and said "KMT army or PLA are all Chinese army!" By the same token, Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China and Communist Party of China also contain the word China.
Conclusion: Re-consider About the HK-China Relationship, and One Would Doubt the Necessity to Commemorate the Massacre
After the handover in 1997, Hongkongers are no longer "overseas Chinese" under the British rule, but Chinese nationals under the (though indirect) rule of PRC. In face of Beijing's rule with HK-China integration, the difference between Hong Kong and China gradually diminishes. Hong Kong is no longer a British overseas territory with political stability with nice livelihood. Members of public having confrontation with the police force on the street is no longer something afar like the Tian'anmen Massacre, but rather places that one can easily access to. It is not only normal but also mature and responsible for Hongkongers, especially younger ones, to re-consider the Hong Kong-China relationship. Other Hongkongers are irrational and irresponsible to backfire them without rhyme or reason — especially those Hongkongers who can emigrate whenever they want and be a "patriotic Chinese"in the West.
Jay Taylor (2009): The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China / End of IV 2 - Managing the Protector