Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Unique Traits of Hong Kong’s People

A few years ago, Hong Kong’s people started talking about a “Hong Kong nationality.” While there is no denying that there are significant differences between the people of Hong Kong, mainland China, and Taiwan, the idea of a Hong Kong nationality seemed a bit far-fetched to me at first.

Generally speaking, when it comes to ethnicity, there must be unique physical characteristics, blood roots, and a cultural heritage; therefore, I was reluctant to consider Hong Kong people an ethnic group. But as I thought more about it, I realized the differences are so great, and so fundamental, that Hong Kong people can indeed be considered their own nationality. Let’s take a look at some of these unique characteristics.

First, when it comes to immigration, the Hong Kong people have the immigration gene in their blood. I realized the people of Hong Kong are specially endowed Chinese people with a very distinctive background.

Hong Kong was under British rule for more than a hundred years and has long been accustomed to the rule of law, freedom, and equality, things that were given to us by the British colonists. We have been blessed to enjoy the essence of these universal values, and the spirit of freedom and liberty has become deeply rooted in who we are.

Ours is an intermarriage of British and Chinese culture, a people infused with the best of both cultures. Our aspiration for, and identification with, universal values is a natural inclination, and our ideology and culture are deeply rooted in our blood through our unique heritage.

Hong Kong street at night, with traffic and lit shop signs.
Hong Kong is an intermarriage of British and Chinese culture that has infused its people with the best of both cultures. (Image: via AnyRgb)

Second, the people of Hong Kong carry the gene of escaping disaster in their blood. They are descendants of refugees from three great migrations, namely, the communist Civil War, the Great Famine, and the Cultural Revolution. Each of these disasters was created by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Those who escaped the first disaster were landlords, capitalists, intellectuals, and soldiers of the Republic of China. Those who escaped the second were starving people who refused to sit idly by, and who risked their lives to survive. Those who escaped the third disaster were the Red Guards who went to the countryside following the revolution, where they suffered a great deal.

When people find themselves in a desperate situation, they draw upon the resilience of the human spirit and discover the courage to risk everything, even in the face of death. A person in this situation will be more daring, more courageous, and more confident than the general public. To save their children and grandchildren from having to live in fear and oppression, the Hong Kong people, no matter where they are, will always find a new landing place.

Third, the people of Hong Kong look outward instead of inward, forward instead of backward, and up instead of down. Hong Kong has no internal resources; instead, it relies on an externally oriented economy to support itself. It looks outward in search of opportunities, and its people have developed a broad-mindedness, far-sightedness, and extraordinary vigor.

The people of Hong Kong have a pioneering spirit that is neither old-fashioned nor conformist. Wherever we go, we carry our roots, and we will do things with the temperament of the Hong Kong people.

Fourth, Hong Kong has a unique culture that is implicit to the Hong Kong people. We are a community with a collective character, including a unique language, unique living habits, and a unique way of thinking. Wherever we go, due to our sense of flesh and blood affinity, it is easy for us to integrate into one body.

People in Hong Kong riding an escalator on the left and walking down stairs on the right.
Hong Kong people are a community with a collective character, including a unique language, unique living habits, and a unique way of thinking. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

While Taiwan has gone through a period of autocratic chaos and mainland China has long been under the iron fist of dictatorship, the people of Hong Kong have lived in a safe and equal society, enjoying freedom and the rule of law for the last hundred years. As a result, we have developed an independent, unrestrained, and free-spirited temperament. The Chinese Communist Party’s fraud, cunning, and brutality stand in stark opposition to our values and character. These communist things are precisely what the Hong Kong people abhor most, and the two views are irreconcilable.

I came to Hong Kong at the age of 30, and my character was already set. I spent 10 years transforming myself into a genuine Hong Konger, and now identify more with the people of Hong Kong than with my fellow countrymen, and more with Hong Kong than with my hometown of Anhai, Jinjiang, Fujian.

Following the anti-extradition protests, I wrote a newspaper article in support of the movement. As a result, my old classmates in the mainland called me a traitor.

Not long after, I wrote an article in Apple Daily called To Be a Traitor or a Slave? In the article, I used the examples of Sun Yat-sen and Mao Zedong, both of whom colluded with foreign powers to oppress China’s people: The Japanese provided money and weapons to Sun Yat-sen, while the Soviets provided money and weapons to Mao Zedong. I stated that I would rather be a traitor standing tall, than a slave kneeling down in submission.

I owe this clarity, strength, and determination to Hong Kong, the place that transformed me, the place that gave me a new life. I came to Hong Kong with a wounded body and an empty bank account, and I left Hong Kong with my personal ideals realized, and my children educated. Hong Kong has been kind to me, and I will forever be indebted.

A Hong Kong mother stands with her boy and two girls who are holding whirligigs.
Hong Kong has given many people the chance to realize their personal ideals and see their children educated. (Image: via pxhere / CC0 1.0)

I believe there are millions of Hong Kong people like me. We are now suffering, just as Hong Kong is suffering. We must survive this difficult time and then plan for the long term. We may be gone today, but we will return in the future. As long as the hearts of the Hong Kong people do not die, Hong Kong will not die. As long as there is righteousness, the forces of evil cannot last.

Hong Kong may well fall, but one day, she will rise from the ashes, and shine brighter than ever.

Translated by Yi Ming and edited by T Denning

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Max Lu
Max Lu is an author who specializes in Asian geopolitics.
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