Great Britain's Legacy in Hong Kong

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gad-fly
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Great Britain's Legacy in Hong Kong

Post by gad-fly » June 17th, 2020, 6:16 pm

I cannot help being amazed at the performance of the British Empire on colonialism. It used to be that Britannia ruled the waves, and the sun would never set on the Union Jack. No doubt about it: Britain is the grand-master of colonialism. None can be close to second before her; none ever after. It is a pity that no one can be found to copy her. Look at Gibraltar; look at the Falkland Islands. The staying power of the colonial master is unbelievable. Not a whisper of independence can be heard. Please colonize us for ever, Sir. Thank you.

But that is nothing when it comes to her performance in Hong Kong. Nicknamed the Pearl of the Orient, Hong Kong appeared on the most detailed world map as no more than a tiny fishing village, when for whatever reason it was picked by Great Britain as some compensation for winning the First and then the Second Opium War. The colonial master's performance on this lucky(?) and sleepy wilderness snatched from Mother China's lap is paramount, deserving more than anything else to be described as out of this world. How Great Britain can turn this indistinguishable plot within a hundred years into a financial center almost as great as the master's capital in London, while keeping it under wraps as a colony, is more than Mission Impossible.

But more, much more. It is the Hong-Kongness the old colonial master has left behind that is truly astounding. Aside from world-class competitiveness, enterprise, commercialism, and worldly outlook, you cannot but admire how the people behave so respectably and decently. With frustration and agitation of the face of protesters clearly seen, there is absolutely no looting scene. Some would even leave small change behind when they take bottled water or stuff from shops broken into, in the backdrop of skyrocketing rent or mortgage payment emptying half of their income.

Comes police brutality. It used to be Royal Police, but the term Royal has since been dropped. The old colonial master might have encouraged and be amused at how hard one Chinese brother hit another, but it makes no difference in the absence of the colonial boss. They must have been taught to keep fatality rate to a minimum, but always remember the harder the hit, the more effective it would be. So do not spare effort. "Shooting point blank at a protester is justified because he can be dangerous too." The same with sentencing. Depending on which side you are on, the case against you can be delayed for months subject to investigation until it is forgotten, or brought to court within 24 hours while you are under detention. Sentencing for a year or longer for under-16 is not unusual. No need to emphasize again that the judiciary has remained independent until this very minute.

It has been more than a year now, and yet the breath of democracy is not stifled. I hope it growing, but that is only me. It must be easy because the blood shed is not mine. Now comes the most amazing achievement of the old colonial master. How did she manage to train a colony so much democracy, when she did not begin it until the last ten years of her rule? It must be a stroke of genius, leaving Communist China with so much which initially appeared tasty to swallow, but now found too much and too painful to throw out that it may prove fatal. The world may not be grateful for Britain's attainment, but the annals of colonialism can certainly not afford to overlook this important chapter.

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Re: Great Britain's Legacy in Hong Kong

Post by gad-fly » June 20th, 2020, 4:59 pm

Yesterday in Hong Kong. A woman was charged in court for attacking the policeman. Lucky for her, the video available in court, taken by a bystander, showed clearly a plain-clothed man pushing her down from behind, and he fell accidentally or intentionally in the process. Charge withdrawn. Case dismissed. Wasn't she relieved! End of story.

The moral of the story. If you happen to be in Hong Kong, don't come across any policeman. You cannot tell if he is plain-clothed? That is you problem. There are thirty thousand of them around. They may be armed to the teeth, and you may not even have an umbrella in hand, but that does not matter.

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Re: Great Britain's Legacy in Hong Kong

Post by Greta » June 20th, 2020, 7:56 pm

Clearly in prior centuries, if one is to be invaded, looted and controlled by a foreign power, it was probably better for it to have been Britain than others. The records of the French, Portuguese, Spanish, Belgians, Dutch, Italians, Russians, Japanese and Chinese appeared to be more overtly brutal.

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Re: Great Britain's Legacy in Hong Kong

Post by Steve3007 » June 21st, 2020, 5:33 am

I don't know. Inflicting test cricket on the world was a pretty brutal act. And Britain did a fair few massacres, and contributed to famines that, as the saying goes, were just not cricket. As well as having the dubious distinction of inventing concentration camps.

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Re: Great Britain's Legacy in Hong Kong

Post by gad-fly » June 22nd, 2020, 11:56 am

Greta wrote:
June 20th, 2020, 7:56 pm
Clearly in prior centuries, if one is to be invaded, looted and controlled by a foreign power, it was probably better for it to have been Britain than others. The records of the French, Portuguese, Spanish, Belgians, Dutch, Italians, Russians, Japanese and Chinese appeared to be more overtly brutal.
In the annals of colonialism, the British Empire is beyond compare. That self-respecting people in Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands desire to remain colonized says a thousand words. It is a pity that George III could not have done better with what is now the United States.

I say the star performance is what the Empire, later calling herself more moderately, has done in Hong Kong, which is history but not yet history. How could the police there treat their own flesh and blood so brutally? One theory is that they are trying to excel what they guess is the desire of their master across the border. This is more than about survival. Rank promotion, flourish, and even the luxury of recreational police clubs depend on the feeding hand, even if that hand is supposed to be local. Another theory is that they have been well-taught by their ex-colonial master before her departure. So well-taught, far beyond rational expectation. A star student from whom the master should learn humbly in the sunset.

But brutality is not the only prominence. You have to be amazed by the hypocrisy: rule of law, judicial independence, the British sense of fair play, and so on. Due process is stretched to the extreme. British MP is denied entry? "Individual case needs no explanation and follow-up." Unarmed protester shot point blank? "Unarmed can be too dangerous too." Selective prosecution? "Not to worry, investigation will be undertaken, and result will be revealed when thy kingdom come, or in the next 24 hours."

The world should be thankful for what can be attributed to be Britain's historical legacy in Hong Hong, at least as far as the path traced by the world's democratic movement is concerned. Where can you find the emergence of democracy so rapidly, so intently, so steadily, and so persistently? What price has the world paid for this role model? Absent this vanguard, and we would be in danger of beating around the bush for decades or more. The price? Almost nothing, except for some moral support. I would suggest that if there is no happening known as Hong Kong, one should be invented, and not soon enough. Whether which to thank first, the Empire or Hong Kong, is up to you.

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Re: Great Britain's Legacy in Hong Kong

Post by gad-fly » June 24th, 2020, 11:32 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
June 21st, 2020, 5:33 am
I don't know. Inflicting test cricket on the world was a pretty brutal act. And Britain did a fair few massacres, and contributed to famines that, as the saying goes, were just not cricket. As well as having the dubious distinction of inventing concentration camps.
What is test cricket? Just not cricket? Isn't cricket a sport, with origin in England?

In the time context, I believe the British Empire's performance as a colonial power is way ahead comparatively. In over 100 years of colonialism, I dare say the people in Hong Kong could not have been governed better than if not under colonialism. Don't get me wrong. i know saying so is more than politically incorrect.

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Re: Great Britain's Legacy in Hong Kong

Post by Steve3007 » June 25th, 2020, 4:58 am

gad-fly wrote:What is test cricket? Just not cricket? Isn't cricket a sport, with origin in England?
Yes. Cricket is a sport.

"Test cricket" is a form of cricket, played between countries, with very long match duration.

"Not cricket" is a slightly archaic figure of speech meaning "not fair" or "not sportsmanlike". It's a part of the longstanding self-mythology that we have had in the past in Britain that the British are characterized by fair play and jolly-good-chappery, as distinct from the dastardly double dealings of Johnny Foreigner. It's a mythology that helps to support the mythology of the basic fairness of the British Empire and the idea that the British were, essentially, ruling over foreign countries for their own good, like parents over wayward children.

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Re: Great Britain's Legacy in Hong Kong

Post by gad-fly » June 25th, 2020, 9:38 am

Steve3007 wrote:
June 25th, 2020, 4:58 am
gad-fly wrote:What is test cricket? Just not cricket? Isn't cricket a sport, with origin in England?
Yes. Cricket is a sport.

"Test cricket" is a form of cricket, played between countries, with very long match duration.

"Not cricket" is a slightly archaic figure of speech meaning "not fair" or "not sportsmanlike". It's a part of the longstanding self-mythology that we have had in the past in Britain that the British are characterized by fair play and jolly-good-chappery, as distinct from the dastardly double dealings of Johnny Foreigner. It's a mythology that helps to support the mythology of the basic fairness of the British Empire and the idea that the British were, essentially, ruling over foreign countries for their own good, like parents over wayward children.
Thank you for explaining so clearly.
Today, you can hardly find bitterness against how Hong Kong had been ruled as a colony by the Empire. Regrettably, democracy could have been introduced sooner in the colony, even as a colony. It was a difficult political decision. The excuse is accepted that, unlike Canada, no self-rule or independence was on the card. The Empire's empathy with the colony's local Southern Chinese culture was crucial to bring along such an incredibly successful story of world-class development. Many in Hong Kong can remember, if not pine for, the good old days with that sense of fair play, whether mythical or not. A minority, admittedly small, would wave the Union Jack in protest scenes. Come back, we need you. Help us. We know you are on our side. Personally, if you visit Hong Kong today as a Brit, you will find yourself welcomed like an old friend whom they have missed for so long.

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Re: Great Britain's Legacy in Hong Kong

Post by gad-fly » June 27th, 2020, 11:47 pm

Who except the Brits could have done it so transcendentally? They began the story first robbing the Chinese by pushing opium which was forbidden in the home country. Then, as compensation for winning the Opium Wars, they grabbed Hong Kong as a colony. To empathize with the native culture, they allowed opium smoking and keeping concubines (wives after the first) there until they lost the colony to the Japanese in 1941. They were welcomed back as heroes, and the Chinese flocked in droves to the colony as refuges, even though their beloved motherland is no more than a walk across the border. When time came in 1997 to be back in the lap of patriotism, they would openly hesitate. Not yet, please, my master. We want more of your rule. Now some of them are harking back to the good old days, and waving the Union Jack which has been gathering dust but too endearing to throw away. Are the Chinese in Hong Kong out of their mind, or have the Brits cast a magic spell which can last on for ever?

I can almost hear again: The Brits are coming, and I can see people running for cover, but unbelievably, in the wrong direction,unlike what happened years ago on the far side of the ocean. If only the Brits could have cast the same spell earlier.

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Re: Great Britain's Legacy in Hong Kong

Post by audiopaynt » June 28th, 2020, 8:19 pm

Interestingly, to throw caution to the wind; devil's advocate et al. We are describing Colonial Britain as one entity with one conscience, frame of mind and form of action. The empire in my perspective can be likened more to a corporate enterprise with smaller entities existing and operating autonomously but under the umbrella of the Empire in many cases. For example, the colonisation of Honk-Kong was a completely different affair to the Falklands, Caribbean, North America, South Africa, Australia. Trade drove the Empire and the water was the method of transport, under rule of the the British Law, however, lots of people have their hands in lots of pies! Very different people, running different regimes, who all played colonisation very differently. Though it is to be said, under British law which demanded a certain etiquette and practice. It doesn't appear though, to be objective using the term 'British Empire' is productive in light of the thread topic. Though it's in no doubt, the commonwealth still championing it's British history all over the world is testament to something, for sure.

Regardless of that input, Hong Kong historically and now. I think you're absolutely right, they've absorbed and retained so much of the best that the Empire, democracy, trade, science, discovery, sharing of information. It developed from small village to fully autonomous state and functions/functioned very well doing so. Socio-culturally it doesn't share the one party sentiment of mainland China, nor the CCP in the same regard it has an air of British law about it. The people are different and the authoritarian approach by China's government is nothing short of political centred criminal activity. Something we all know but are reluctant to find a course of action. I respect the defence of their human rights and quite frankly, if not this year, next or further. Can see China's actions in Hong Kong being used, among many other reasons; covid, trade, labour camps, 'education' camps, social credit system, human rights, captial gain in africa etc. As a form of justification for military conflict (Whole other argument I know but, it does appear the west and others; India, Korea, Japan, are gearing up to present China with a healthy dose of armed conflict.)

Where I think colonialism is championed around the world, it's the states like Falkland's, Gibraltar, Malta, Fiji, Hong Kong, New Zealand, The Bahamas, Cypress... There's something to be said for the way island/peninsula communities feel connected through the Empire's infrastructure. It really is a network and I support the nomenclature 'Common Wealth of Nations' on the basis the that it's a corporate network of trade and sharing of culture. The British Empire enjoyed the celebrating foreign cultures, if a little 'zoo like' but the sentiment of celebrating rather than destroy remains and perhaps that's why it has last much longer than the other counterparts.

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Re: Great Britain's Legacy in Hong Kong

Post by gad-fly » June 30th, 2020, 4:24 pm

audiopaynt wrote:
June 28th, 2020, 8:19 pm
It doesn't appear though, to be objective using the term 'British Empire' is productive in light of the thread topic. Though it's in no doubt, the commonwealth still championing it's British history all over the world is testament to something, for sure.

The British Empire enjoyed the celebrating foreign cultures, if a little 'zoo like' but the sentiment of celebrating rather than destroy remains and perhaps that's why it has last much longer than the other counterparts.
Some of us, including me, may be romantically predisposed to what used to be the British Empire, later reinvented as the British Commonwealth. The heyday of the Empire's high noon came with the Opium wars. When acquired, Hong Kong served as no more than a stop halfway around the world, hardly comparable to the crown jewel of India. But it is the dusk of the empire that can be so unbelievably beautiful, first by winning the Falklands War, which performance was in turn far exceeded by ceding the colony of Hong Kong so gracefully. We thought the Joint declaration was history to be reminisced, but No! Did those negotiators under Prime Minister Thatcher hold the insight to a never-say-die democracy struggle, or did they plant the fuse late in the day before their departure? Either way, it would be such a waste to dismiss their ingenuity, an invaluable lesson for students of Henry Kissinger.

As for the British Commonwealth, its fading away like old soldier is well expected. Its legitimate claim to the remnants of the Empire, including localized memory of British-ness, cannot be denied, but that is about it. With the ongoing dusk, the skyline will continue to darken until nothing can be seen. Fantastic dusk, isn't it? If the world can only have the British Empire one more time!

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