Decolonizing-3 Images from Hong Kong

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Credit: The picture depicting the pearl hunting activity from the book ‘Tian Gong Kai Wu, 天工開物’, Image from the Hong Kong Museum of History 

Hong Kong was a small fishing town before the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1921). Most of the residence make a living by pearl hunting, fishing and incense making (which is also where the name ‘Hong Kong’ came from, and literally means ‘The Harbor for Incense’).

The Qing Government set up several military spots along the coast of Hong Kong Island to defend it from pirates, but governing the area was never their priority. People were left to their own devices, and the lives and properties of these people were not considered ‘important’ to the government. The place is important simply because of its location and for its military use, never because of its people and culture.

This raises a question, now that Hong Kong is part of China officially: when, historically, your ‘mother’ country never actually cared about you, is it OK for some people not to feel too attached to it?

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Credit: The Queen visited the local market in Hong Kong in 1975. Image taken from Apple Daily (Available at https://hk.lifestyle.appledaily.com/lifestyle/culture/daily/article/20130313/18192934), by Ng Pong Mui

During the colonial period, The Queen visited Hong Kong twice, and received a warm welcome both times (Hong Kong people sometimes call her the ‘Boss Lady’), and the place seemed to flourish under British rule. However, the number of riots greatly increased, and the society was never stable. The 1967 leftist riots marked the climax of the conflicts between the Hong Kong British government and the local groups (those with strong ties to Beijing), and was often viewed as a watershed for the emerging of the ‘Chinese/Hong Kong citizen’ identity. Interestingly, there are views held that social conflicts are not the only reason for the outbreak of the riot, and that the Communist Party had also done some work to speed up the process in order to gain back control to Hong Kong as soon as possible (Ming Pao, 2017).

 Retrived from: https://news.mingpao.com/ins/文摘/article/20170122/s00022/1485067969029/周日話題-「六七暴動」-遺害至今(文-程翔)

 

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Credit: The statue of Queen Victoria in Victoria Park was enclosed in preparation for the exhibition of Chinese Science and Technology. The red banner read ‘Congratulations on the 20th Anniversary of the Hong Kong Reunification’ (Note: the statue was nowhere near the exhibition venue). Image taken from Headline Daily (Available at http://hd.stheadline.com/news/realtime/hk/938007/ )

After the return of Hong Kong to the Chinese government, the start of decolonization had caused many conflicts among the local people. The implementation of a ‘National Education’ and the efforts made by the Chinese government to promote Chinese culture (more like an attempt to ‘erase’ the local, British-affected culture, in some people’s eyes) had raised concerns, because, while we are teaching our younger generation about the positive aspects of China, but how and to what extent should we teach them about aspects side of the country? (No government would like their people to know their bad side, after all) How should we prevent the children from being ‘brain-washed’ and keep our cultures and most importantly, our core value (such as democracy) unchanged? China is the mother country of Hong Kong, however, Britain was the one in power when Hong Kong’s economy and society flourished. Now Hong Kong is being returned to a completely different cultural background and system to mainland China, and its people are lost between the local, so-called ‘colonized’ culture, and the exotic, ‘original’ culture from a ‘mother’ about whom we know nothing (or perhaps too much).

 Image selection and post written by Cheong