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A Convenient Misremembrance: Hong Kong’s Colonial Legacy

By Mandy Hui

A Convenient Misremembrance: Hong Kong’s Colonial Legacy

Editor’s Note: This paper was completed as a part of the History Research Fellowship, a one-semester course available to sixth form students.

Is Hong Kong a part of China? The answer to that question depends upon whom you ask.

In 1842, Britain occupied the small island of Hong Kong. The colonial empire maintained political control for a century and a half, eventually returning the city to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997. During the transfer of power, the PRC declared Hong Kong a special administrative region. This unique status permitted the city to operate separate legal and economic systems from those in mainland China, a principle embodied in the slogan “one country, two systems.” The Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping developed this idea during the 1980s in anticipation of Hong Kong’s reunification with China. The concept not only preserved Hong Kong’s capitalist system, it also granted the city a high-degree of autonomy until 2047. The agreement promised Hong Kong residents freedoms of speech, press, and assembly, all of which are not guaranteed in the mainland.

In recent years, many Hong Kong residents have prided themselves on their city’s civil liberties, in distinction from the more strict rule on the mainland. However, China began gradually limiting Hong Kong’s freedoms in many different ways, such as abducting Hong Kongers who sold books criticizing the PRC in the early 2010s. China’s repeated threats to strip Hong Kong of its autonomy have been met with mass demonstrations; thousands of pro-democracy residents rallied in the streets of Hong Kong, protesting the PRC’s infringement on the “one country, two systems” policy it had promised to retain for 50 years. 

Growing up in Hong Kong, I witnessed protestors block familiar roads and businesses to force China’s authoritarian government to concede in its attempts to end Hong Kong’s democratic system. I have seen thousands symbolically use umbrellas and black clothing as a cry for freedom and democracy. For most of my life, my friends and I were too young to formulate our own informed opinions regarding these protests, but the events of 2019 and 2020 changed my perspective on what was unfolding before me.

In the midst of the 2019 protests, I had a conversation over lunch with one of my close friends about Hong Kong’s political crisis. I was conscious of my friend’s impassioned beliefs on the matter. Due to the topic’s sensitive nature, we decided to eat at a “yellow restaurant,” a title given to restaurants owned by pro-democracy supporters. I asked her about her thoughts. She described tension among her family members about China’s restrictions. She wanted to take part in the pro-democracy protests, however, her parents threatened to disown her if she associated herself with the demonstrators. At the end of her soliloquy, she let out a sigh and muttered, “I wish Hong Kong was a British colony again.”

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard pro-democracy supporters reminisce about the city’s colonial era. The week before, thousands of demonstrators gathered to sing the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen,” and hundreds waved Union Jacks as a sign of resistance against the PRC. I was confused. Why do many Hong Kong citizens look favorably on British colonial rule but bravely resist PRC’s control? How can the British Union Jack, the flag of Hong Kong’s former colonizer, be used as a symbol of democracy?

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A Preliminary Probe into the Impact of Confucianism on China

By Amanda Wang, V Form

A Preliminary Probe into the Impact of Confucianism on China: How is a thought from two thousand years ago still relevant today?

Confucianism was born out of a disturbed and divided era, with wars plunging people into the abyss of misery and suffering. Different from the Taoists who observed the way and legalists who committed to harsh punishments, Confucius sought to restore a harmonious social order to China. The most prosperous dynasties of China applied Confucianism to state administration, and Confucius himself was known by the highest institutions down to the grass-root workers. The open sentence of The Analects: “Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application? Is it not delightful to have coming from distant quarters? Is he not a man of complete virtue, who feels no discomposure though men may take no note of him?” is a proverb to all Chinese (Xue Er). It renders in my memory since the age of four. At that time, my friends and I could correctly recite around a hundred of those, without knowing what they actually meant. But every grown Chinese knows, through the Five Ideals of jen, chun-tzu, li, te, and wen, the sage influenced China profoundly in society, politics, and culture for thousands of years and beyond.

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National Identity in The Golden Fish Hook

By Lora Xie, V Form

National Identity in The Golden Fish Hook

Prompt:

Research and write about a foundation myth that has influenced the country’s national identity or that continues to influence its identity.

On April 24, 1970, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) used the Long March 1 rocket to launch its first satellite into Low Earth orbit, becoming the fifth nation to achieve independent launch capability.[1]Long March 1 belonged to a family of rockets named after the “Long March” (长征), a year-long military retreat is undertaken by the Red Army of the Communist Party of China (CCP) from 1934 to 1936 to escape from the pursuit of the Kuomintang (KMT or Chinese Nationalist Party) army.[2]The trek was apotheosized by the American chronicler Edgar Snow in his 1937 officially endorsed “Red Star over China.”[3]When the Communist Party founded the PRC in 1949, it adopted the legends about the tribulations and demonstrations of heroism that took place on the Long March as some of its most important foundation myths. These legends are taught in schools and broadcasted through media to promote the so-called “Spirit of Long March,” summarized by Jiang Zemin, the fifth president of the PRC, as “loyalty,” “sacrifice,” “practicality,” “collectivism,” and “popularism.”[4]This essay will analyze how one specific myth, “The Golden Fish Hook,” promotes those ideologies, offers citizens consolation and motivation for adversities, and cultivates patriotism through pride and gratitude.

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My Quest: Uphold the Values of Martial Arts and Xing Yi

By Tianyu Zhao, VI Form

My Quest: Uphold the Values of Martial Arts and Xing Yi

My grandfather’s bungalow in my hometown hides many secrets, including a sword behind a towering closet in the storeroom. When I was only seven, I felt its weight when my grandfather first placed it in my small hands. It had belonged to Liu Qilan, my ancestor from the Qing Dynasty, a martial arts master who later became of great importance to me.

And yet, my interest in martial arts didn’t come from him. Like many of my peers, I was sent to a kungfu studio by my mom at an early age. Years later, I began to watch Bruce Lee’s films and gradually grew obsessed, spending hours every night exercising my strength and flexibility. I looked for more professional and systematic training in kickboxing classes and made my neighbors suffer the noise of my punches after my uncle fixed a huge standing sandbag for me outside the door.   (more…)

Empathy Through Education in China’s Xi Ma Yin Village

By Carrick Zhu, V Form

Empathy Through Education in China’s Xi Ma Yin Village

carrickschool3My mom and I began our volunteer teaching trip in 2014. With the help from the local Red Cross Organization in Ning Xia, China, we were able to find a local primary school situated in Xi Ma Yin village. Xi Ma Yin rests at the base of the Helan Mountain where the water supply is scarce. The villagers are mostly immigrants from the other side of the Helan Mountain. The elementary school where I worked is called Xi Ma Yin Immigrant Development Zone Elementary School. (more…)

The Dalai Lama: A Spiritual Leader Above a Political One

By Lucy Cao, V Form

The Dalai Lama: A Spiritual Leader Above a Political One

China and Tibet have a long history of relations. Beginning with the Manchu rule of Tibet, conflicts and disputes between the Chinese and Tibetans have persisted. Unwilling to compromise with a centralized ruler, Tibet seized the opportunity to claim itself as an independent state after the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty. However, following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Tibet became an integral part of China. From then on, numerous riots and uprisings for Tibetan independence and the preservation of Tibetan traditional culture and religion have taken place (Goldstein 84-86).

One aspect of the complex relationship between China and Tibet has some connection with the Dalai Lama selection process. As a tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, Finding the reincarnation of the Dalai (more…)