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Speaker: “Foreign forces”, hope and Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution

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  • Joshua Grainger,

    You say that because of the influx of mainlanders and thus the dilution of the Hong Konger identity that many Hong Kongers are moving overseas. Surely that's a little bit hypocritical: aren't Hong Kongers moving, to say, Auckalnd, the same as mainlanders moving to Hong Kong? The concern about the shops of the old Hong Kong disappearing in favour of those that appeal to mainlanders seems to be reminiscent of Winston Peters old concern about corner stores disappearing and being replaced with Cantonese restaurants, TCM providers, and Asian supermarkets.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Joshua Grainger,

    You say that because of the influx of mainlanders and thus the dilution of the Hong Konger identity that many Hong Kongers are moving overseas. Surely that’s a little bit hypocritical: aren’t Hong Kongers moving, to say, Auckalnd, the same as mainlanders moving to Hong Kong?

    Let me answer this: no. The Chinese government doesn’t run New Zealand let alone tear-gas Aucklanders in the street, the language (written and spoken) is in no danger of disappearing, retail still serves the needs of residents, the scale of migration and tourism is in no way comparable. It’s just not a comparison.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The Chinese government doesn’t run New Zealand let alone tear-gas Aucklanders in the street,

    The Chinese government isnt tear gassing anyone. The Hong Kong SAR has its own police force. If you remember the Occupy Auckland protest was broken up by the police. Some would say, its what they do.

    Regarding the language, the Yue Chinese and related dialects are spoken throughout the Pearl River delta and areas down to Vietnam, they arent "disappearing". The introduction of forms of manadrin has occured throughout China and is not unique to Hong Kong.

    Its hard to see how in a few areas the introduction of signage and shop assistants who understand the language of the customers is any different from many parts of Auckland. Its not a concern here and seems bizarre that it would be seen as a problem in Hong Kong. I bet English had a similar impact on 'shop signs' when mass air travel made Hong Kong a tourist destination. Hong Kong residents have long looked down their noses at the uncouth and provincial 'mainlanders' The local media have many stories of 'incidents' of mainland tourists behavior that would likely seen here as quite racist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    forms of manadrin

    knock-off drugs, compared to the “original brand” Cantonese writing system. (The spoken language varieties are much less similar.)
    The issue may not be so much with the increased use of Mandarin, as with the devalued status of Cantonese as a result (i.e., no longer an unchallenged standard language). There are some racist undertones to this – you wouldn’t have to look too far (on other sites) to find similarly reactionary attitudes to official use and support of te reo in NZ, though a closer (if less extreme) parallel as far as the writing systems go might be if NZ were to adopt American spellings as standard – but there’s also a (valid) fear of change, instability, and (especially) of losing control.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    There is a gulf there - a Taiwanese friend talked about the disorientation when first faced with simplified Chinese (the mainland post-Mao writing system brought in to increase literacy), I'm sure those who've grown up in Hong Kong feel the same, while those from the mainland may find what they see in Hong Kong as "old-fashioned" a thing of their grandparents - then again I suspect those tourists are likely more at-sea faced with traditional Chinese writing than Hong Kong residents who over the years have likely been faced with both

    Hong Kong is embedded in a larger Cantonese speaking region (many of NZ's early immigrants also came from there) - but the HK border is largely surrounded by Shenzhen which is a new city (just 30 years old) that has attracted people from all over China, there they mostly speak Mandarin because it's what they all have in common

    Chinese as written in NZ signs is an equally wonderful mix as most of the tourists likely read simplified while most of the immigrants read traditional

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to linger,

    though a closer (if less extreme) parallel as far as the writing systems go might be if NZ were to adopt American spellings as standard

    Well, yes. As far as the writing goes, we're not talking about a different language or script, just a different orthography. And although there are some cogent arguments for the superiority of traditional characters, what partisans of traditional characters often seem to forget is that the simplified characters weren't simply invented out of nothing, many of them are based on common short-hand, alternative or calligraphic forms of the "standard" traditional characters.

    "Original brand" might not be so far off when talking about the spoken languages, though. The "older", more conservative southern langauges like Cantonese preserved some features of Middle Chinese that Mandarin dialects generally lost (though Jin managed to keep the entering tone). So I'm sure Nickkita can confirm that Tang poetry sounds better in Cantonese than Mandarin.

    As for the original post:

    Why idealise the colonial era? If colonial Hong Kong was so perfectly sweet and innocent, why was the ICAC set up? Care to discuss the political troubles of the '60s?

    Is the situation really as simple as "good protestors Us vs. bad anti-protestors Triads and central government hired thugs Them"?

    And the rampant xenophobia! Wow!

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    while those from the mainland may find what they see in Hong Kong as “old-fashioned” a thing of their grandparents –

    More "sophisticated", I think.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    The Chinese government isnt tear gassing anyone. The Hong Kong SAR has its own police force.

    Yes, sorry, that was sloppy of me.

    If you remember the Occupy Auckland protest was broken up by the police. Some would say, its what they do.

    The Auckland occupiers were evicted after four months and a formal court process. Three cops behaved unacceptably in failing to display their badges, but there was no tear gas or batoning and there were no mysterious masked thugs attacking protesters.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    there were no mysterious masked thugs attacking protesters.

    Yeah, that bit's creepy. Par for the course in smalltown Mainland, though. And Zhongnanhai has never been known for its PR savvy.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Chris: yeah, as I understand it most of the changes that were attributed to Mao had been being proposed for decades before, he just had the means to push them through.

    I must admit I was guessing at how mainland people would react to traditional script, as I mentioned I’ve had that discussion with people exposed the other way, never had a chance to ask the opposite

    (and I'm slightly biased since I'm learning simplified)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Why idealise the colonial era? If colonial Hong Kong was so perfectly sweet and innocent, why was the ICAC set up? Care to discuss the political troubles of the ’60s?

    Well, yeah - let's discuss. But I'm sorry, but you're going to dismiss Nickkita's whole post because she isn't delivering a detailed history of Hong Kong's rather complicated history?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    (and I'm slightly biased since I'm learning simplified)

    Me too. I don't know how far through your studies you are, but my experience is that once you've got your reading up to a certain level, Traditional becomes a lot less daunting. Context and an understanding of how the characters "work" help a lot. Also KTV, which I prefer to avoid, but I have VCDs (yes! still!) and DVDs, and it seems most of the KTV stuff is imported from HK and Taiwan, or made for HK and Taiwan, but redirected, perhaps.

    You'll still see a fair bit of Traditional in the Mainland. Bank signs are the obvious one, but also signage in many upmarket areas. Some Classical Chinese textbooks, but I chickened out and bought the 北语 Simplified textbooks from their "foreigners majoring in Chinese" series, telling myself I'd switch to Traditional when I got my Classical good enough. Yeah, right. I've had friends suddenly decide they're going to text in Traditional for no obvious reason.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I should've known....

    I am discussing Nickkita's post. A certain nostalgia for the colonial era seems to have crept in to these anti-Mainland things, even with people flying colonial era flags at some protests.

    I understand the reaction against Central government interference in HK affairs, given that HK is still supposed to be under "one country, two systems" and "a high degree of autonomy", and that full democracy was supposed to happen within a certain timeframe under the terms of the handover. I also understand frustration with "hordes" of Mainlanders swarming HK supermarkets stripping the shelves bare of infant formula and other such goods, maternity tourism, and uncouth Mainland visitors flagrantly violating HK's social norms.

    But I don't get this nostalgia for the colonial era as if it were all sweetness and light when it clearly was not, as if all this bad stuff has happened only since '97 and only because Mainland. This nostalgia seems to be very much a part of the anti-Mainland xenophobia which seems to constitute the greater part of Nickkita's post.

    And "complicated"? My other big problem with this post is that it's so simplistic it belongs in the pages of the Herald. I saw the headline and thought, "Great! Informed comment on the Hong Kong situation!" But no. Why are these people out on the streets? What is Occupy Central? Why are they reacting like this to Zhongnanhai's insistence on approving candidates for Chief Executive in 2017? What expectations for 2017 did the protestors have and how reasonable are those expectations? Who are the anti-demonstrators and what motivates them? But no, all we got was "Us Hong Kongers good. Them Chinese bad".

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I'm working on reading vocab (I need to read component data sheets) - sitting around 2000 chars at the moment - my brain seems to do reading vocab so much better that verbal ..... not being embedded in the language makes it lot harder, I'll have a week at xmas, (but mostly in HK) - I actually don't need much to buy parts in the Shenzhen electronics markets, mostly politeness and numbers

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Craig I suspect that people here who live on the mainland or visit a lot probably are thinking hard about whether to touch those lightning rods .... it's probably why we're talking about character sets

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Nickkita Lau,

    Thank you very much for the interests. The reason I illustrated all the discontent in Hong Kong is to show why it is important for us to have democracy so that we can finally take control of our destiny and make policies that serve HKers. Yes, I understand my depiction may come across as “intolerant”, which is actually what the HK government has been using as excuse to tell HKers to shut up about all the Chinese-centric policies it has been pushing forward, but is it wrong to ask a government to put its own people first?

    The problem with the Chinese presence in HK or even in Auckland, is that many are not assimilating. Most HKers, including myself, have grandparents originally from China, but our ancestors adapted to the HK culture at that time, learned Cantonese and worked hard to build HK into what it is right now. Most HKers don’t feeling negatively toward other people of Chinese descent like Taiwanese, Singaporean Chinese or Malaysian Chinese. The mentality many Chinese have, which is advocated by their state media, is that because they are investing in HK and “boosting” our economy, we should be thankful and let them bring their customs to HK. When I say customs, I’m not talking about celebrating Chinese holidays, I’m talking about the disespecting the rule of law, corruption, cutting lines, urinating in public (which is also a problem in other Asian cities like Singapore due to the increasing number of Chinese tourists), not giving seats to those in need on public transports. I can’t speak for all HKers in Auckland, but I’ve tried very hard to assimilate and learn more about the Kiwi culture. I even avoid speaking in Cantonese in public. Trying to appreciate and adapt to the culture of your new home is what I think every newcomer to a new city/country should do.

    The major difference between the situation in Auckland and HK is that (Greater) Auckland is 4 times bigger than the entire HK, but there are 7 million people already living there. We can barely accommodate our own people with the housing and infrastructure we have, but the HK/Chinese government are continuously letting Chinese tourists come to HK to not only spend money but to take advantage of our system. Last year HK received 17 million tourists (66% Chinese). NZ as a country only received about 3 million. Many of those so called tourists came to HK are hired by gray market dealers. They don’t come to visit but to stock up our necessaries in bulk, to the point that even locals have a hard time finding what they need. Another huge problem is “anchor babies”. NZ doesn’t give citizenship to just anyone born in NZ unless one of the parents has NZ permanent residency or citizenship, but in HK anyone born there will automatically get PR. In 2001, only 650 babies were born to Chinese parents, but in 2010, the number rose 50 times to 32,600! Many Chinese parents use tourism as a disguise to take advantage of our welfare and health care systems. The children can enjoy free education, free healthcare and welfare even though the parents didn’t contribute anything to HK.

    Our government has been doing next to nothing about all these. Every time a conflict arises, our government tells us to be “tolerant” because our government officials know the only way to secure their power is to please China. I also cannot agree with the gentleman who thinks the HK Police was the party solely responsible for firing tear gas at our protesters. I do not believe they would have done such thing without the approval from someone higher up.

    And yes, HK had riots in the 1960s, which were very different and way more violent than the Umbrella Revolution we are having. Do you know who were behind those riots? Supporters of the Communist Party. HK was not perfect decades ago. That’s why the British set up ICAC, which turned HK into one of most uncorrupted cities in the world (next to Singapore I believe). HK was not perfect when the British left us in 1997 either, but after the handover things have only gone downhill. Our protesters aren’t asking for Britain to take us back or seeking independence. You might have seen the colonial flags flying around in previous protests, but its presence should be very minimal this time because the majority of the protesters know what they are actually fighting for–the democracy that we are entitled to--so that we can make HK a better place for our people.

    Since Oct 2014 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Nickkita Lau,

    Thanks for joining the discussion Nickkita.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Nickkita Lau,

    I actually thought of writing about why we are protesting, what we stand for, how we are protesting, why we are so damn nice and peaceful, and even the conspiracy theories and how the HK/Chinese government's handling of this is a reflection of the power struggle of the Communist Party, but I think mainstream international media have covered those topics pretty well over the past 18 days. I'm not on the ground. I can only speak as a HKer who had once lost hope for a better future in HK, but now that I have witnessed the determinism and kindness displayed by our protesters, my hope is now reignited

    Since Oct 2014 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Police officers beating a handcuffed protester, later idenitified as Civic Party member Ken Tsang Kin-chiu. Story here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Nickkita Lau,

    In HK they still know how to protest. Whereas in many of the advanced Anglosphere economies, it seems to have become a mild case of boiled frog-ism: "So what if people are throwing molotovs and there are soldiers marching in the streets? Nothing else matters as long as my house price remains high. Unless of course, someone wants to build a mosque down the road."

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Nickkita Lau,

    Thank you, Nickkita.

    I’m not convinced that the Communist Party was the sole aggressor in the 1960s riots, nor that the KMT was innocent of all involvement. But that’s by-the-by. Photos have been popping up online of protestors (not necessarily Occupy Central, some of these have been around for a couple of years) with colonial flags and even signs calling for independence. Extreme examples, probably, but still there. Didn’t HKU’s POP programme show a rise in HKers identifying as HKers first, rather than as Chinese? Funny, seems I’d need to turn on a VPN to open this page. And I’m sorry, but I did detect what seemed to be a note of nostalgia for the colonial days in your original post and in your “after the handover things have only gone downhill.”

    Obviously this doesn’t apply to anchor babies and the grey market shopping, but a lot of the behaviours HKers complain about, the public urination, spitting, queue jumping, etc, are widely despised and complained about by Mainlanders in the Mainland. Each new incident in HK, Singapore, wherever, is met with as much disgust here on the Mainland as is generated wherever it took place, both disgust at the particular behaviour by the particular person in that particular incident and at uncouth Mainlanders losing face for the Motherland. There’s a lot of discussion of the poor character (素质) of “the Chinese” (Mainlanders tend to just say 中国人 when the conversation takes this turn – read into that what you will), but nobody seems to have figured out what to do about it, and those who do actually engage in the offending behaviour carry on being arseholes blithely ignoring government campaigns and the demands of wider society to shape up.

    And just as everybody in Greater China and the diaspora hates on the Mainland, Beijing and Shanghai both hate on the rest of China (including mutual loathing), urban China is contemptuous of rural China, and generally the more developed regions of the Mainland despise the less developed regions of the Mainland. So, seriously, how much of the HK/Taiwan/Singapore contempt for the Mainland is about comparative levels of development and access to quality education?

    “Access to quality education”, because I’ve noticed that those of my students who have done at least part of their earlier education in HK or Singapore are noticeably different from their “purely” Mainland classmates, more open minded, more mature and generally better prepared for university.

    But discussions over expanding democracy and the election of the chief executive have been going on for some time. What has brought things to such a head now? What is the significance of the 2017 election? Was there a reason in the Sino-British Joint Declaration to give HKers reason to believe they’d have greater democracy by that date? Didn’t that agreement put a 50 year limit on “one country, two systems”, and how much of what is happening now is inspired by fear of what Zhongnanhai will decide to do with/to HK when those 50 years are up? Cack-handed attempts to include “patriotic education” in the school curriculum and tighten up security laws in recent years don’t seem to have helped inspire confidence. Understandably, I should add. Persistent rumours over the years of even HK’s English-language media self-censoring to keep Beijing happy are also worrisome. Jimmy Lai seems to be keeping the pro-democracy light burning in the Chinese-language press, but he can come across as knee-jerk anti-Communist sometimes, and is he the only one?

    As for language, how seriously should we take people’s fears? Combine with Taiwan and there’s a fairly big and highly literate market for Traditional character printed media. Also, plenty of Mainlanders, especially those of a more “independent” mindset, are deeply appreciative of HK’s and Taiwan’s free-er markets, which expands the potential customer base quite a bit. There are very valid fears for the health of local/minority languages and dialects in the Mainland, and far too many people insisting on teaching their kids Putonghua only, but given the strength of HK’s media and entertainment industries, do we really need to worry about the strength of Cantonese in HK?

    ETA: I've had some weird troubles posting this comment, and I see Nickkita has commented in the meantime dealing with some of the stuff I mention here. I'm going to click 'save', hope this comment appears intact, let my frustration with whatever has been causing this trouble posting subside, then have another look...

    Oddly enough, Russell's YouTube video was showing up, but SCMP link behaving like it was blocked.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    In HK they still know how to protest.

    I think the Anglosphere has gotten rather complacent, while many in HK are seeing bloody good reasons to not relax.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Nickkita Lau,

    Attachment

    The video Russell post has gone viral on HK social media. What the police did and/ didn't do over the past 2 weeks have broken the hearts of many HKers who grew up believing the HK Police were to be trusted. Because of the public outcry, the police has issued a statement saying it will conduct an internal investigation, but I think many HKers have lost faith in HK Police and doubt if justice can really be served.

    Since Oct 2014 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I think the Anglosphere has gotten rather complacent

    Probably even to the point of the fiddling-while-Rome-burns sort of complacent.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Nickkita Lau,

    We had an uncorrupted government

    On Media Take Toi mentioned that you’ve only been in New Zealand five months. If you’re not already aware of this story, in its own way it may assist in informing your impressions of our ‘democracy’ and ‘CEO’:

    Greens say Norman assaulted by Chinese security

    MP’s Tibet protest flag removed

    China accepts apology over Norman protest

    I did, as I said I would, point out to him that we’ve changed our protocols and I wouldn’t want to see a repeat of that incident.”

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

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