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HK Observer: Real patriots

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image Robert Carroll

Here we are again David and Goliath, not forgetting Stalin and Mao versus capitalism and Western style freedoms.
The massive demonstrations march of June 4 and July 1 and the reactions from the motherland demonstrate the contradictions and the conundrum that Hong Kong faces as one of the freest societies and developed in the world but part of a much larger country that is one of the most controlled but lags behind in developing civil rights, rule of law economic leveling both in business and for opportunity individuals to mention just a few of the challenges facing the world’s second economy.
But here’s the crunch: for the world´s second largest power to move on to the next level it needs soft power as well as much more liberal exchanges of ideas and to free itself from near universal official business corruption; however it wants to bend Hong Kong to its way when there are so many models to follow here which would greatly contribute to the continuing development of the country to that next level.
Ironically within this scenario there are many individuals trying to do the best for the country, and therefore by definition, patriots, who are reviled while many self-servers are held on high as ideals of patriotism when the issue of who is a patriot, and who is not – or as they often say, someone who ‘loves the country and Hong Kong’ or who does not is crucial to who may hold high positions and frequently insisted on for future leaders here by senior Chinese officials.
The Chinese Communist Party and government’s official newspapers and part of the propaganda machine, predictably decried the huge Hong Kong marches and the unofficial ‘referendum’ on democratic reform by the Occupy Central movement, which had over 700,000 respondents, as meaningless and spelt out the official Chinese government concept of patriotism.
In an article in response to the July 1st march there was a poignant reference to the words of Deng Xiaoping, the architect of One Country Two Systems solution to Hong Kong and Macau’s decolonization and return to Chinese sovereignty. The late supreme leader described “patriots” as those “who loyally support China’s exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, and those who do not impair Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.”
First of all there are no opponents of Chinese sovereignty of any political importance here and there likely never will be. That the territory is part of China, albeit as an autonomous entity, is an indisputable and irreversible fact in the foreseeable future.
Secondly while Hong Kong and mainland China remain culturally divided by history and levels of development, not to mention the Cantonese/Mandarin divide with all the associated historical baggage and prejudices that have evolved it does not mean that closest of rapprochements must happen overnight. Doesn´t every country have regional competitiveness and divisive preconceptions yet there are many successful nations that live with these realities while working to close gaps?
Thirdly who is not impairing Hong Kong’s ‘prosperity and stability’ if it not the handful of tycoons who dominate the economy creating great social inequality, and disharmony, depriving the young and not so young of the decent future they have worked so hard for? Are they then patriots?

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