Doing My Part to Protect HK: Gordon Mathews

08:03 25 Feb: Doing My Part to Protect HK: Gordon Mathews
Translated by HKCT, written by 晴韻 @ Stand News
Original: https://www.thestandnews.com/politics/%E5%B0%88%E8%A8%AA-%E6%B1%BA%E5%BB%B6%E9%80%80%E4%BC%91%E7%95%99%E6%B8%AF%E6%95%99%E6%89%B9%E5%88%A4%E6%80%9D%E8%80%83-%E9%BA%A5%E9%AB%98%E7%99%BB%E7%9A%84%E8%B3%AD%E5%8D%9A-%E5%BE%AE%E5%B0%8F%E5%9C%B0%E7%9B%A1%E5%8A%9B%E4%BF%9D%E8%AD%B7%E9%A6%99%E6%B8%AF/ 

Professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s (CUHK) Department of Anthropology, Gordon Mathews conducted fieldwork at Chungking Mansions between 2006 and 2009 to study “low-end globalisation”.

Mathews, currently 65yo, could retire this coming August, move to his wife Yoko’s home country, Japan. However, he eventually chose to stay in Hong Kong; at the beginning of the month, he announced on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2868916283325752) that he already renewed his teaching contract with CUHK for the coming 3 years. Besides directing his graduate students’ research, he also remained because of his conviction of the importance of critical thinking.

His announcement on Facebook was probably a post that has garnered the most engagement and response on social media for him in recent years. He stressed that choosing to stay in Hong Kong to teach was not a foolhardy decision, but definitely not something that could be described as courageous. “Well, it’s a gamble.”

- Real Education -

Born in the US, Mathews used to teach in university in Japan, and moved to Hong Kong with his wife when he was hired by CUHK in 1994. Fluent in spoken Japanese and able to read the language, but his Cantonese remains limited to only enough proficiency to carry out a 5-min conversation with a taxi driver, such as “Do you like the Chinese government.”

In recent years, Gordon teaches subjects such as “Culture of Hong Kong”, “Globalisation and Culture”, “Humans and Culture”, and “Meanings of Life”. Though the subjects are different, they all revolve around the core of critical thinking. He emphasises that training students to think critically has always been the fundamental principle of higher education that he holds, “delineating all the facets of a topic and allowing students to select their stance and opinion according to different arguments.”

Mathews gave an example: Consider the various protests in Hong Kong over the past decade from various perspectives, and provide your personal view. He explained that the “various perspectives” must engage in discussions from Hong Kong and mainland China’s perspectives, as those two perspectives are a must, while other facets and perspectives should be used to supplement. At the same time, the response should be largely based on facts to demonstrate students’ comprehension of the topic at hand, then provide their own views based on the arguments presented, “That’s what I consider critical thinking.”

Critical thinking should not only be applied in exams or at school; Mathews hopes that students would retain this ability even when situated in a protest movement.

Mathews was one of the teaching staff who remained on campus during the battle at Bridge No. 2 in CUHK in Nov 2019. Recalling the course of events from 2 years ago, the most unforgettable moments weren’t of the fire and smoke, but the time he spent drinking beer with local and mainland Chinese students on the rooftop of the staff quarters during the siege at CUHK.

He joked, “That was the most prideful moment for me during the social movement…that’s what we should be doing. We should discuss, and of course not every person will agree with the other’s opinions, but at least there could be a civil conversation. This is most important. Critical education is what allows people to have this dialogue and rational communication.”

He often tells his students that non-violent protests and civil resistance are the ways forward. “I support the resistance movement, but I don’t agree with any form of violence, including those wielded by the police and the protesters. It’s stepping across the line, but understandable.”

Prior to Jun 2019, Mathews did not join any Anti-ELAB protests because he worried that having an American passport could fall into the trap of the CCP’s political propaganda, that of “foreign forces infiltrating Hong Kong.” However, he eventually chose to take to the streets.

“Because there were reports then that students were beaten and sexually assaulted by the police. I must be there for the students. Maybe I would only be there to observe, but to some degree it could prevent such things from happening, and students would act with more self-restraint and less violent.”

- Real Patriotism -

In 2008, Mathews, Lui Tai-lok and Eric Ma Kit-wai co-authored the book “Hong Kong, China: Learning to Belong to a Nation”. In their work, they pointed out that Hong Kong is one of the very few places in the world that does not know patriotism and did not have any patriots willing to die for Hong Kong. After the Handover in 1997, those who most stressed the identity of “Hongkonger” were also the ones most eager to emigrate. It was not until 2019 when he heard a student tell him for the first time that they would be willing to sacrifice their life for Hong Kong. Mathews felt that to a certain extent, this reflected a new feeling of “seeing Hong Kong as home.”

“Mainland has always wanted Hongkongers to learn to love their country, now Hongkongers do, but it is the wrong country. It’s Hong Kong but not China, which is very true.”

As for the Chinese government’s relentless attempts to impose a national identity on Hongkongers, Mathews finds these attempts laughable. He pointed out that most places in the world have national belonging training, such as he had to recite the Pledge of Allegiance since he was very young, and even after having left the US for decades, it’s still deeply ingrained in him. “Would that mean that I love the US? No! I hate the US, and seeing what the country has been doing the past few years, it’s clearly an evil country.”

“I’m aware that I want to remain loyal to Hong Kong…I think this feels like home, as I am emotionally connected to the city.” Could this be counted as a “patriot” for Hong Kong?

“I don’t like to use “patriots”, because I don’t feel that this world deserves to have patriots.” Mathews reiterated, “I like and value Hong Kong, but I hate the term patriotism, because it could easily turn into fanaticism.”


Police Siege of Universities: Battle Between Totalitarian & Universal Values

Police Siege of Universities: Battle Between Totalitarian & Universal Values 
Translated by HKCT, written by Sam Choi Chun-wai, originally written on 22 Nov 2019 and translated on 27 Nov 2019
Original: https://www.thestandnews.com/politics/%E8%AD%A6%E6%96%B9%E5%9C%8D%E6%94%BB%E6%A0%A1%E5%9C%92-%E6%A5%B5%E6%AC%8A%E8%88%87%E6%99%AE%E4%B8%96%E5%83%B9%E5%80%BC%E4%B9%8B%E6%88%B0/ 

[HKCT note: We are trying to back up long articles we have translated during the anti-ELAB movement and thus we are uploading them here again.]

Since the anti-extradition law protests in June, Hong Kong’s motto has evolved from “Hongkongers Add Oil” to “Hongkongers Rebel” to “Hongkongers Avenge,” reflecting the incessantly growing dissatisfaction felt among the protesters. This is all because the state violence and absurdity has been growing day by day.

The death of HKUST student Alex Chow, who fell from a carpark amid police operation, was a trigger that ignited the grievances accumulating in the city for the past few months. Citizens once again commenced the “Citywide 3 Suspensions” (三罷), which included occupying traffic arteries near major universities. However, as is their wont, the police continued to violate convention, forcefully storming and raiding campuses. The recent bloody siege of CUHK and PolyU will become an inextinguishable page in the history of Hong Kong.

The siege of universities is an extremely serious humanitarian crisis. Over 2,000 rounds of tear gas were maniacally fired at CUHK, and the sky was aflame. China-manufactured tear gas release high levels of toxic chemicals, including cyanide gas and the carcinogen Dioxin, which is extremely hard to clean. Yet the police opened fire crazily as if to annihilate their opponents. No wonder foreign journalists accused the police, who lack conscience and morality, of being more frightening than ISIS.

The siege on PolyU continues to this day, and over 1000 people have been arrested and registered. Even though food and water rations on campus have been cut, and over a hundred citizens have been injured, the government barely moves a muscle, vowing not to end the siege until a “surrender,” treating the citizens like war criminals.

Lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung has experienced the conflict from within PolyU firsthand. He attempted to calmly reason with the police, but discovered that many policemen are in a euphoric, even deranged state, constantly hurling insults at the ordinary citizens trapped inside. The police were even photographed entering the campus grounds, not to arrest anyone, but to open fire at extreme proximity, treating the citizens and students as live targets. Can such vengeful means of smiting ordinary citizens be considered the actions of a public servant?

Inside the campus was panic and helplessness; outside, anxiety and heartbreak. Citizens did their best to “bloom” in various districts, attempting to “Besiege and Rescue,” but to little avail.

The police, holding submachine guns and armed with live ammunition, even loudly threatened the citizens that they would “Re-enact Tian'anmen Massacre.” In pitch darkness, masked police fired tear gas and rubber bullets in abundance, hurtling towards crowds like a speeding minibus. Smoke and flames rise everywhere in Hong Kong, as if it is a battlefield. Even without tanks, this is already a re-enactment of Tian'anmen Massacre.

The police changed their strategy of sieging PolyU, aiming to divide protesters and use various means to wear out their morale, to thoroughly crush their mentality. Looking at the bigger picture of the movement, the Siege of PolyU has gains as well as losses, but I hope that everyone can ultimately view the incident in a positive light. Citizens were terrified, but relied on completely nonviolent logic to attempt to break the siege at PolyU. Although not every protester at PolyU was successfully rescued, the incident showed that citizens continued to stand together with ties unsevered, a shared belief of unity.

Regardless of their ways, beliefs, or backgrounds, those who truly love Hong Kong remain extremely united. This home is dear to everyone’s hearts.

Hong Kong has not imposed curfew. Yet the city is dealing with the realities of martial law and warfare, and even facing biological hazards. Since June, the police have already fired over ten thousand rounds of tear gas, covering communities with deadly chemical substances. No one was spared. Can the industrious Hong Kong people still pretend to sleep, or pretend that everything is normal?

Students are the backbone of social movements, and schools are symbolically significant: they are the “home” to students and alumni, the “cradle” that will nurture the next generation, and the “bastion of knowledge and values” in a city. It is for this reason that so many protesters, whether they belong in schools or not, do all that is possible to protect these buildings.

This is something that those whose hearts lack a home, knowledge, and principles can never understand.

Sam Choi Chun-wai is a lecturer in The Education University of Hong Kong's Department of Asian and Policy Studies.

Author's Note:

It’s a pity that Pentaprism II’s critique of the Hong Kong police’s inhumane actions brought about a bunch of mean, pro-China complaints. Only after several hours of its online rerun, the video was forced to be taken down! RTHK’s staff resisted valiantly, and I also want to thank them for their hard work! 

Translator’s Note: 

1. To “bloom”  (遍地開花 pindei hoifaa) means to sprout up [i.e. have protest events] across the city in groups.

2. “Besiege and Rescue,” originally an idiomatic expression in Chinese, is a diversion tactic whereby one besieges the enemy’s home base in order to rescue those besieged elsewhere.

3. Pentaprism II (左右紅藍綠) is a current affairs programme broadcast by RTHK.

Love that Transcends Walls & Fences: Protester Vows to Wait for Arrested Lover

Love that Transcends Walls and Fences: Protester Vows to Wait for Arrested Lover
Posted on 14 Feb
Original: https://hk.appledaily.com/local/20210214/6G2T3DLKKFCLRCCDPXZ23D4LKU/ 

What’s the meaning of Valentine’s Day? Isn’t it, after all, just another commercial holiday to boost consumption? Without extravagant gifts and fancy candlelight dinners, for those protesters facing hard, cold walls while their loved ones remain beyond reach on the other side of the walls, heart-wrenching love is all that matters. When the time spent apart is longer than the time spent together, would the line connecting lovers become thinner and thinner, or more sturdy and steadfast? What sort of lover would say such folly as “I’ll wait for you even if I have to wait 10 years”? Love, perhaps, is crazy after all.

- Waiting for You, in this Desolate Classroom -

“Our time apart has been longer than our time together.” Hayley (pseudonym) and her boyfriend were both arrested; for the past year, she had been on bail while he remained remanded pending trial. They had belonged to the same small team, walking the streets together. She recalled that they met for the first time at PolyU, and since that fateful meeting, she decided that she would spend the rest of her life with him.

After they escaped from PolyU, they knew that they had long been under the watchful eye of the police, and they could do nothing more than pretending to be a couple taking a stroll at night. That night, there weren’t any pedestrians on the street, making the two painfully obvious. Before they knew, riot police began to chase them, and he held her hand tightly as they ran for their lives to escape arrest. Such dramatic scenes as if out of a movie, message exchanges in a group, and several in-person meetings, sufficed to give her the impression that this was someone who had been through thick and thin with her.

Sitting on a chair, she tightly grasped her hands, and only smiled when the reporter asked her what she liked about her boyfriend. She told the reporter that he was several years older than her, and took care of her conscientiously, “He’s a really nice guy, taking me everywhere with him. Within a short time, I had already met his parents, and he treated me as someone very important to him.”

Before they really got to know one another, they had already decided to be together, and she admitted that it was only after they officially became a couple when they really began to get to know one another. Despite participating in the social movement together, their actions weren’t always in sync, because he always felt that he should be at the frontlines, while she – due to consideration of her physical condition – could only remain in the back and take up various supportive positions. Whenever they went out, they would always turn on their location to let the other person know where they were. She had complete confidence in him, but he was constantly worried that she might have an accident.

“I know that if I were to be subdued, he would save me no matter what.” Many couples, even after being together for decades, might not have complete mutual trust, but they had only been together for several months, yet their trust was solid as a rock. Then on that fateful night, the hasty knocking crushed their sweet dream. The two were arrested, and she “worried that he would be beaten, and worried that I would not get to see him anymore.” She too had been arrested, but she did not worry about her own safety, and instead, worried that she could not do anything to help her boyfriend.

- Teaching Others the Importance of Persistence -

72 hours later, her case was mentioned in court, and she could finally see her boyfriend again. As soon as he saw her, he began to cry, “I was so heartbroken…” She tried to hold back her tears because she didn’t want to cry in front of him, didn’t want him to think that he had gotten her into the mess. Afterwards, it was nearly a year of him remaining in remand.

At the start, she did not visit him, and only passed letters to him via a friend. Because they were arrested together, she worried that there would be suspicion of obstructing justice if they met, but when the lawyer later told her that she could visit him, she began to visit him every week. This went on for quite some time, and she said that she must seize each and every opportunity, “Whatever time there is to meet, I will see him.” She was worried that after he was sentenced, she would not be able to meet him as frequently.

They were both nearly 30yo, and in the face of 10 years or more behind bars, she said that she was already mentally prepared. They could meet now several times each week, each time for 15 minutes; she said that this actually brought them closer together, and made them miss each other more; the physical separation could not divide them. He of course told her before not to wait for him, because he didn’t want to waste her youth, “I’ll definitely wait, this is something that we’ll get through together.”

When asked if she regretted participating in the social movement, and if she regretted falling in love with this man, she felt that society needed reform, and the government had forced the people to take such measures. As for this man, he was her comrade, her lover; she appreciated his sacrifice of his future and his life for the city, and she was grateful for his pure passion.

“Every person deserves to be loved and cherished, and serendipitously, we found each other.”

- Finishing the Finale in Your Embrace -

Last Valentine’s Day, they were in each other’s embrace, but this year, they are apart. However, she didn’t feel sad, and said that she was learning to live on her own, “As long as you get used to it, it’s not too bad. If one year is too much, how can I last a decade?” She then said with an air of optimism that each 15-minute visit was like charging her up for meeting the challenges in life, helping her to happily get through another week.

He told her that in his dream, he saw her and held her, but when he woke up, he found himself alone in the cell, staring at the cold, hard walls. She couldn’t bring herself to continue, since overcoming her loneliness was one thing, but bearing the other’s loneliness was an entirely different matter. At night, she could only recall the fragments of their time together, the first time they hung out like any other couple, what they ate, where they went together. She remembered all these moments deeply, “If I can’t even remember these things, then there’s nothing left to hang onto.”

She regretted that they had very few photos together, “We must take more pictures together once he returns.” During the visits, she always longs to hold his hand; remembering that the next time they could hold each other would be in ten years’ time, she falls into melancholy again, “Why must it be so hard.” After a long conversation, she did not talk much about her own case, as if it was not important, but that only he was the most important thing to her.

Won’t Refuse Young HKers for Protests or Charged under NSL: Cdn Consul General on Canada’s Lifeboat Scheme; Concern NSL’s Detrimental Effect on HK’s Rule of Law

Won’t Refuse Young HKers for Protests or Charged under NSL: Cdn Consul General on Canada’s Lifeboat Scheme; Concern NSL’s Detrimental Effect on HK’s Rule of Law
Originally posted on 11 Feb

Since the enactment of the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL), the Canadian Government announced last November the Lifeboat Scheme to enable Hongkongers to move to Canada. The first round of work via applications began taking applications this Monday (8 Feb), in that Hong Kong residents who received a university degree or college diploma from a Canadian institution within the past 5 years or an equivalent qualification via an overseas certificate would be eligible to apply for a work visa up to 3 years, with no ceiling on the age of the applicants.

Three days after the launch of the Scheme, Canadian Consul General in Hong Kong and Macau Jeff Nankivell was interviewed exclusively by Stand News. He pointed out that the Lifeboat Scheme set a relatively lower threshold than existing immigration policies, hoping to provide young Hongkongers a “more convenience, easier” means to live and work in Canada.

Nankivell also stressed that if young Hongkongers had been charged for their participation in political activities, they would not lose out on their chance to emigrate to Canada, “We don’t want the young people who had been charged for participating in protests or for allegedly violating the National Security Law to mistaken that they would be disqualified from applying.”

“In Canada, political activity is not a crime.”

Having lived in Hong Kong for 4.5 years, Nankivell told reporters, “I have deep feelings for Hong Kong,” and that he felt that he was not the only Canadian with great passion for the city. “Many Canadians share this affection. In Canada, anything that happens in Hong Kong is big news.”

Canada had long been a choice for Hongkongers for studies and emigration. Nankivell shared that the Canadian Government’s target number of immigrants for the year was 400,000, approximately 1% of the current national population. He laughed that this was an “aggressive” target, that Canada is “one of the few countries that actively recruits such a large number of immigrants.”

Besides the first round of work visa applications that it had announced recently, the Canadian government had also previously foretold that there would be forthcoming announcements of two other means to permanent residence this year, including one for those Hong Kong residents who had at least one year’s work experience in Canada and fulfilled the language and education standards; another means would be for Hong Kong residents who graduated from Canadian tertiary institutions, with a path that would allow them to apply directly to receive permanent residence.

With a low threshold for application, it was certainly good news to young people.

Nankivell pointed out that Hongkongers can apply for the work visa via an online system, but it was still difficult at this point to estimate the number of applications, “One thing we could be sure is that many young people are interested in this scheme.”

Canadian Minister of Immigration, Marco Mendicino, previously said publicly during a parliamentary hearing last November that “no one would have their refugee application or other Canadian immigration application banned for being charged with violating the National Security Law or having been convicted for participating in peaceful protest.” As for how the Canadian government would define “peaceful protest”, would charges of unlawful assembly and rioting be excluded?

“Political activity is not a crime in Canada.”

Nankivell reiterated, “We don’t want the young people who had been charged with participating in protests or violating the National Security Law to mistaken that they would be disqualified from applying.”

He promised to young Hongkongers that Canada had a well-established vetting system and will carefully review each Lifeboat Scheme application to confirm whether the applicant has committed a crime for political reasons or some other criminal offense.

- No One Seeking Political Asylum from Cdn Consulate Generate Yet -

New Hong Kong Cultural Club, a group that assists Hongkongers in exile in Canada, pointed out last month that since the end of last year, Canada had approved refugee status for 14 asylum seekers from Hong Kong (see HKCT’s previous report here: https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2851808418369872). As for the number of Hongkongers in exile in Canada, Nankivell did not respond directly, but claimed that such matters were not part of the responsibility for the Consulate in Hong Kong and Macau. He also said that thus far, no one has visited the Consulate to seek any sort of asylum.

- Concerned that NSL Destroys HK’s Rule of Law -

Every time the NSL is brought up, Nankivell shows concern.

“(The NSL) clearly violates the Sino-British Joint Declaration, undermines One Country, Two Systems, is inconsistent with the Basic Law, and also counters internationally protected Hong Kong human rights.”

In the international arena, Canada has repeatedly spoken out against the NSL, first issuing a joint statement with the U.S. and U.K. condemning Beijing for pushing through the NSL in Hong Kong, then issuing a statement as a member of the G7, announcing the suspension of the Canada-Hong Kong extradition agreement, and banning the export of sensitive military goods to Hong Kong.

On the other hand, the Consulate also reminded Canadians in Hong Kong about the NSL through its website and social media.

“As soon as the NSL came into effect, we immediately updated our travel advisory to remind our nationals that mainland national security agencies will be able to legally carry out their duties in Hong Kong without local court or legal oversight, and that nationals are at risk of extradition to the mainland for trial.”

To Nankivell, however, there had been a fundamental change to both the Hong Kong judicial system and court trials.

- Fundamental Change to the Courts -

One of the most high-profile NSL cases was that the founder of Next Digital, Jimmy Lai, on charges of colluding with a foreign country or foreign forces to endanger national security." This past Tuesday (9 Feb), the Court of Final Appeal handed down the verdict on his bail appeal case, and among the long lines of people outside the courtroom that morning, there were also European Union diplomats and Canadian consulate staff waiting to enter the courtroom to observe the case.

Nankivell said that the consulate staff had attended the case as an observer in the hope of following the progress and development of the trial, but the trial was still at an early stage, making it far too early to make further interpretations of the NSL, but the Consulate would continue to closely monitor the developments.


Bauhinia Party Founder: : "Don't Really Care" If Members from CCP; Beijing Won't Refuse Blessing to Party

18:50 1 Feb: Bauhinia Party Founder - Wong Chau-chi: "Don't Really Care" If Members from CCP; Beijing Won't Refuse Blessing to Party
Translated by HKCT, written by Sophie, Ronsing Chan @ Stand News

After the pan-democrats’ resignation en masse in November 2020, the news that caught the attention of the political circle was the establishment of Bauhinia Party — led by a number of pro-China businessmen, with a target of recruiting 250,000 members as stated in its constitution. There has been a lot of talk about the party, with suspicions that it is a formal 'surfacing' of underground members of the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong to establish a 'governing echelon' to replace the traditional pro-Beijing faction, or that it is Beijing's attempt to “gaitu guiliu” (read: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/30/opinion/china-hong-kong-xi-jinping.html) and achieve ‘Beijingers ruling Hong Kong'. The background of the 3 founders, being Li Shan, Clement JW Chen and Wong Chau-chi, led to some imaginations.

However, since the news of the founding of the party was out in December 2020, Bauhinia Party has remained low-profile, with no public activities or speeches, and no official website or dedicated page. Only a few of the founders were occasionally interviewed by the media, which gradually led to questions about whether the Bauhinia Party was more like a showy display. Jasper Tsang, the founding chairman of DAB, once laughed that the Bauhinia Party was nothing to be afraid of: “What reason is there for the Central Government to trust these ‘drifters to Hong Kong’ more than the traditional patriots born and bred in Hong Kong?”

In the past 2 months, as the news about Bauhinia Party turned from hot to cold, one of the founders, Wong Chau-chi (56yo), chairman of CMMB Vision Holdings Ltd (0471), was interviewed by Stand News. He revealed that Bauhinia Party will soon be officially launched, and it is expected to be officially operational after Lunar New Year in February.

Wong knows all the questions and speculations people have at the party. Yet, the most obvious thing is - he has no intention of distancing himself from Beijing, or even, he purposefully creates such an impression.

“There is no reason Beijing would not give their blessing to what we do,” said Wong, founder of Bauhinia Party. 

One reason why Bauhinia Party has attracted so much controversy is that it was founded by 3 people whose backgrounds are obviously close to Mainland China. According to Bauhinia Party’s constitution, the party supports One Country Two Systems, promotes universal suffrage, improves China-Hong Kong relation, supports democracy and rule of law, and also supports party members to run in elections at all levels. 

Li Shan, Clement JW Chen and Wong Chau-chi are the permanent members of the committee, and Li Shan will be the chairperson of the party in the first 5 years of the party’s founding. Li Shan is a member of CPPCC. He and Wong were both born in Mainland China, while chairman of Bonjour Holdings (0653), Clement Chen, is also the chairman of Chinese Academy of Governance (HK) Industrial and Commercial Professionals Alumni Association, which has close ties with the Liaison Office. Chen also led a group to Kwun Tong Police Station in August 2019 to join an event to support the police. 

Born in Guangzhou, came to Hong Kong at the age of 12, Wong speaks fluent Cantonese. He revealed that Bauhinia Party has 13 founding members and fewer than 100 members have been recruited for the time being. They come from different places, there are Mainland Chinese living in Hong Kong, Chinese who studied overseas and people born and raised in Hong Kong, yet most of them have ties with people in China or hold important positions in different government agencies. "We can't deny that we have a good relationship with the Mainland and understand it well", he said, describing the relationship between the party members and Mainland China as “having smooth communications”.

Wong stressed that the relationship with China would not affect Bauhinia Party's stance, that there was no need to speculate whether they had Beijing’s support, and that their goal was to protect Hong Kong's interests, return Hong Kong to stability and prosperity, and promote youth participation in politics. He said that Beijing would not refuse to support these ideals, "How could Beijing have a different position? If it’s not (for) the good of Hong Kong, what is it?” Similarly, he refused to deny whether they had Beijing’s "blessing", “but I think there is no reason Beijing would not give their blessing to what we do”. He also said that although the party had not deliberately "consulted" Beijing, there were always channels of communication, hinting implicitly that he visited "different departments" after Bauhinia Party was formed to "understand what we are about”. 

“Doesn’t Really Care” If Members Are From CPC 

By the same token, Wong refused to respond directly to whether there are CPC members in Bauhinia Party. “Which party you are from, what political inclination you have... our party doesn’t really care.” 

He only repeatedly emphasised that Bauhinia Party "does not care about political inclination, cultural backgrounds or social classes", and that its members are "Hong Kong people" who consider Hong Kong as their home, love and contribute to the city, “It is not important to us whether you are a CPC member, a member of the US Democratic Party, or whether you are from Kuomintang.”

But with the obvious Mainland background, are “Hongkongers” or “new Hongkongers” at the core of Bauhinia Party?

“The label 'new Hongkongers’ is very divisive and unjustified, because we are 'Hongkongers’,” said Wong. 

He said he came to Hong Kong from Mainland China at the age of 12 and grew up as a 'grassroots' person, he had "lived in a sub-divided flat and worked as a child labourer”. He said he had not only seen the "hardships of the people”, but also witnessed the most glorious moments of Hong Kong, “If I weren’t a Hongkonger, I don’t know who would be.” After graduating from Diocesan Boys' School after studying Form 5, he went to the United States to study. He never felt discriminated against during his time in Hong Kong, which made him "very willing" to return to Hong Kong after his studies.

Recently, President Xi Jinping and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office have made it clear that "patriots should rule Hong Kong". He considered it legitimate, “Will there be an unpatriotic person running in election for presidency?” He stressed that this is only a declaration of sovereignty by the Beijing; there is little difference in reality. In his view, the essence of "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" and "patriots ruling Hong Kong" are the same; the most important thing is to elect a capable person, “It is totally wrong and ridiculous to say patriots ruling Hong Kong means Hong Kong is not ruled by Hong Kong people.”

However, he did not comment on whether  Bauhinia Party was "patriotic" in the eyes of Beijing, "It should be expressed through our actions. It is the others who commend us on our patriotism, We are completely different from those who ‘suddenly become patriotic’.”

Democracy “Definitely” A Feeling; China & Singapore “Uniquely Democratic”

Throughout the interview which lasted for more than 1 hour, Wong indicated multiple times that Bauhinia Party supported “democracy”, they would “protect democracy, freedom, rule of law, human rights”. Yet, his “democracy” was far from the “democracy” which a typical Hong Kong citizen understands. For instance, Wong believed that “democracy” was “definitely not” about the balance of power, but rather, being “people-centred” and whether people’s “livelihood” was well, and democracy was “definitely” just a feeling, “democracy and freedom are the core values of every society, they are also core values of our socialism as well as Hong Kong’s core values”. 

Democracy is at the core of socialism, so according to Wong, China has its “unique democracy”, “You should visit China, many places in China have a much higher degree of democracy than Hong Kong: being protected, stable, secure, jobs, housing, all aspects of livelihood… Democracy means being people-centred, after placing people at the centre, then it’s whether people’s livelihood is good, whether they have a good life.” He cited the Constitution of the PRC, which states that democracy, freedom, openness and other values are the most important among the core values of socialism, “I don’t understand why people think the Basic Law does not provide democracy, or China does not have it.”

It follows that, Singapore, which is widely considered as authoritarian, and which the pro-Beijing camp always consider as the “model” of Hong Kong, also had democracy, it even was “the most democratic”. The reason is that Singapore ranked the last among the “4 Asian Tigers” in the 1990s, but now, its GDP is twice of that of Hong Kong, “Will Singaporeans be unhappy? Will they say they don’t have democracy? Singapore is one of the most democratic countries, but their democracy is unique of Singapore, it’s their own special kind of democracy.”

Democracy Still, after Candidates Disqualified & NPCSC’s 2014 Decision

If one understands what he meant by “democracy”, his views on other issues related to “democracy” will not seem surprising, for instance, he considered that Beijing supported universal suffrage at Hong Kong, given that its sovereignty was respected; it was also democracy that NPCSC’s 2014 decision stipulates that the Chief Executive candidate must be nominated by the controlled 1200-member committee before the public may vote. “What’s the problem? Beijing’s basic requirement is to be faithful to One Country Two Systems, love the country, many people satisfy it… Is it not democratic if Beijing stops someone who does not love the country and wish to destroy from running in election?”

When an election is still considered democratic with cherrypicking, disqualifying candidates is naturally part of Wong’s “democracy”. He believed all those disqualified had crossed the red of line subversion or treason, for instance, on former secretary-general of Demosisto, Joshua Wong, who was disqualified from District Council and Legislative Council elections, he said, “It’s his problem being disqualified, you need not rely on him for democracy, right?” He believed the disqualification of those who violated rules would not affect the acceptability of the election or the degree of democracy, “You can’t consider that Hong Kong does not have democracy based on the disqualifications, running in elections and breaking the national security law are 2 separate issues”. Even when all candidates from Civic Party were disqualified collectively, people could still form their own party to represent themselves, “Why don’t you form a political party yourself? Hong Kong is very open, why not?”

"National Security Law Functions to Restore Peace"

Therefore, Wong’s democracy is probably only about people's livelihood; the right to fair elections and does not seem to be relevant. The "democracy" and "freedom" which he said Bauhinia Party must "defend" is actually more like opposing "society being destroyed by rioters“, opposing the self-claimed "democrats" who "destroy society" with violence and incitement. “Much of the violence in the past had rid Hongkongers of democracy and freedom ...... We can't even go out, go to work, the MTR cannot operate, our economy is basically paralyzed, whose democracy is it? It's all the work of a handful of people. Where is my democracy? Where is my freedom?”

Based on this logic, the national security law is definitely something good to them, “I think it's strange that you consider the national security law as a law which oppresses your democracy, because what the national security law is for is to stop violence and end chaos.” As for those who are accused of colluding with foreign forces, subverting the state or inciting secession, be they lawmakers or social activists, they should wait patiently for the judiciary's verdict because "the rule of law in Hong Kong is one of the best places in the world.

Although he has always stressed that Bauhinia Party belonged neither to the pro-Beijing camp nor the opposition camp, that it would not participate in the "yellow-blue dispute", and that it hoped to promote communication and unite "Hongkongers”, the basic arguments of Wong and Bauhinia Party seem to not much different from the current pro-Beijing camp. The founding of this party has caused people to question whether it is to replace the current pro-Beijing camp, Jasper Tsang also made the remark noted above. 

Wong considered the remark that Bauhinia Party was to replace the pro-Beijing camp ridiculous, they “respected very much” the pro-Beijing camp’s past contributions. The party was not established to compete with the pro-Beijing camp, because the political parties in Hong Kong were not well-developed, and "even the largest party may have only 40,000 members". Although he did not name it, Wong was referring to DAB, the largest party in the pro-Beijing camp, they had 40,000 members in 2019. “More than 90% of people in Hong Kong are not affiliated to any political party”, to him, the 7 million in Hong Kong without any political affiliation were the silent majority, which was also the source from which the party recruited its members to reach the goal of 250,000, “With 7.5 million people in Hong Kong, this target is not impossible.”

Wong said that Bauhinia Party was looking for a headquarters and hiring for the secretariat. They would actively recruit party members after its operation officially starts, when the time comes, they would send members to participate in elections, “With such a big platform, we can’t say whom we want to replace.”