For anyone from outside Hong Kong, the sight of local fans cheering a home-town favorite must have seemed unremarkable. For anyone familiar with the city’s past two years of trauma, it was striking. Such gatherings have been vanishingly infrequent since 2019, when shopping malls were a popular site for flash protests. Crowds often assembled to sing “Glory to Hong Kong,” an unofficial anthem that has since been banned in schools. Hong Kong’s Covid rules still limit gatherings in public places to no more than our people, an interdiction that has been enforced zealously by the police when there is any hint of a political motive...
It has reached a point where the mildest assertion of Hong Kong idiosyncrasy is at risk of being branded potentially subversive or secessionist. Yet the Olympics is a reminder of how a distinctive and different Hong Kong identity might have sat comfortably within a more expansive conception of Chinese nationhood.
The high point of China’s popularity in Hong Kong came during the 2008 Games in Beijing, when observance of “one country, two systems” caused a groundswell of good feeling toward the mainland and the city’s residents were happy to adopt athletes of both teams as their own. Hong Kongers were far more willing to identify as citizens of the People’s Republic when they sensed a willingness to accept the city without insisting on changing it.
That makes the Hong Kong team’s presence in Tokyo poignant, pointing to the opportunity missed, the road not traveled, in which a more tolerant and more confident China embraced the nation’s cultural diversity rather than seeking to stamp it out in pursuit of socially engineered Communist orthodoxy. For the truth is that Hong Kong is different, and this is its strength and its value to China. The city is an outward-facing society that has been exposed to the influence of multiple global currents and traditions. That heritage was brought home again on Wednesday in the form of silver-medal-winning swimmer Haughey, the daughter of an Irish father and a Hong Kong mother.
Weaving together various observations and musings -- usually pertaining to aspects of Hong Kong (life) but sometimes beyond.
Friday, July 30, 2021
Hong Kong Olympic joy threatened by killjoys unwilling to take advantage of golden opportunities to bring society together
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
On an emotional rollercoaster ride this past 48 hours thanks to a number of Olympic results and legal decisions
Monday, July 26, 2021
It's hard to divorce anything from politics in Hong Kong, including Olympic matters
Saturday, July 24, 2021
My first and probably only post about the Tokyo Olympics
Thursday, July 22, 2021
And then they came for the speech therapists, and their children's books about sheep and wolves...
Published by the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists, the books try to explain Hong Kong's democracy movement to children.
Okay, so there's a political slant to their content. But, please, just look at the covers of the books in question (and, for good measure, the animated readings of the tomes) and you tell me whether these books and the people behind them could seriously be considered to be national security threats! (Honestly, China can seem so weird: in that, with actions like this, it's making it really hard to decide whether it considers itself to be a powerful country or one that is so weak that speech therapists and their books about sheep and wolves are genuine threats to its national security!)
Democracy supporters are portrayed as sheep living in a village surrounded by wolves.
The first book, titled "Guardians of Sheep Village" explains the 2019 pro-democracy protests that swept through Hong Kong.
"Janitors of Sheep Village", the second book, sees cleaners in the village go on strike to force out wolves who leave litter everywhere.
The book's introduction explains it is a reference to Hong Kong medical workers striking last year in a bid to force the government to close the border with mainland China at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The final book in the trilogy -- "The 12 Braves of Sheep Village" -- is about a group of sheep who flee their village by boat because of the wolves.
It is a direct reference to 12 Hong Kongers who made a failed bid to escape by speedboat last year to Taiwan but were detained by the Chinese coastguard and jailed.