Thursday, 28 June 2012

In defence of Hong Kong. Again...

Letter to South China Morning Post, 26 June:
UPDATE: published on 4th July as "Contrast with Mainland is stark"
Yet another emotional and incoherent letter from Cynthia Sze (“Dark history of imperial exploitation”, June 25).
Hong Kong is indeed in a good position since the handover, though “better” is arguable.
The reason for that good position is the system that was handed over peacefully in July 1997: the rule of law;  freedom of speech and assembly; a competent and uncorrupt government.  All these are in sharp contrast with the mainland. I studied Chinese and worked in China in the early seventies and have personal experience of the stark differences between the mainland and Hong Kong.  Many of these still exist, corruption and abuse of power the chief amongst them.  (Mind you, I still had a fun and unforgettable time!)
Sze says Hong Kong people “keep annual vigil for June 4”.  Yes indeed, but try doing that in Beijing, Ms Sze, and see how long it is before you’re tossed in jail by “China’s able government”.
The history of British imperialism is not blemish free, a fact fully recognised by the British themselves, who carry out constant self-criticism of their imperial past.  But it’s nonsense to note only the “atrocities” of “imperial exploitation”, without also noting that in the case of Hong Kong our good position is based on principles of government and civil society instituted by Britain.
The Queen has nothing to apologise for, Ms Sze. Why not concentrate your energies on getting the “able” Chinese government to apologise for June 4?
(disclosure: I am not British but Australian — another horrid ex colony! -  who now considers Hong Kong home).

Yours, etc, 
Later: SCMP letter today, 29th June, taking Sze to task.  Immediately below the fold...
Sze's earlier letters below the fold..
Many died to defend free speech (29 June)

I refer to the letter by Cynthia Sze ("Dark history of imperial exploitation", June 25).
The fact that Ms Sze can write so eloquently in English, albeit with much venting of bile and venom, about Hong Kong's colonial past, surely speaks volumes about how she benefited from receiving an education under a former colonial power she clearly despises.
Men and women from Britain fought and died here to defend the freedoms she now enjoys, including free speech - something that her mainland compatriots still aspire to.
Ms Sze, had it not been for the foreign powers you despise, you might well have been writing your diatribes in Japanese.
Ray Peacock, Happy Valley 

Dark history of imperial exploitation (June 25)
The acrid comments in David Howarth's letter ("People get governments they deserve", June 18) are irrelevant to my observation that Queen Elizabeth should apologise for imperial crimes ("Chinese are not obliged to salute jubilee", June 14).
Hong Kong under the government of the special administrative region is in a better position than when it was under British administration.
Supported by China's able government, our people enjoy growing reserves and respectable surplus, in contrast with Britain's intractable debts and reprehensible deficits.
Hong Kong people keep annual vigil for June 4 and take to the street against perceived injustice.
In contrast, British people are beneficiaries of imperial exploitation carried out by an empire which was responsible for many atrocities.
These can be read about through a search on Google.
Cynthia Sze, Quarry Bay 
Chinese are not obliged to salute jubilee  (June 14)

The answer to Mark Peaker's bewilderment ('Why no official note for queen?' June 11) is patently clear to all except those still afflicted by colonial hangover.
The government of the Special Administrative Region represents Hong Kong people, who are overwhelmingly Chinese. They generally find the histrionics of the monarchy insufferable.
For the diamond jubilee, Queen Elizabeth should consider apologising for the opium wars, the Bengal famine and other imperial crimes. She should send Hong Kong a note of gratitude for giving Britain money spinners like HSBC and Jardine, which wouldn't have become what they are if they had been in England.
Cynthia Sze, Quarry Bay