By Sam Beatson.

Very interesting indeed to observe some of the online reactions to Hong Kong’s only medal so far in the Olympic Games, London 2012.

Astute and witty, Hong Konger’s have been as assertive as ever and quick to proclaim that the ‘real’ and ‘correct’ national anthem- God Save the Queen- was played during the ceremony that saw Wai Sze Lee receiving her bronze, the gold having been taken by Britain’s Victoria Pendleton in the women’s keirin and the silver by PRC’s Shuang Guo.

The Hong Kong flag was hoisted on the opposite side to the People’s Republic, both in the ‘child position’ to the Union Jack, as if two siblings.

‘Watching as a Hong Kongese wins her Olympic medal, the hoisting of flags and the national anthem being sung. Listening to Britain’s national anthem, not China’s,’ said one forum netizen post.

Another said, ‘Britain is close to Hong Kong. Chinese communism is far away from it.’

‘The biological mother is not so great as the adoptive’ asserted another Hong Konger.

As British people, how can we fail to be proud of our legacy left to Hong Kong, our system and way of life? For one, I feel grateful and honoured that Hong Kong people remember Britain in this positive and happy way. Posts by Hong Kong participants on went on to display disappointment and disgruntlement when reminiscing about the Hong Kong before 1997 and the Hong Kong after it.

I’m sure my superior in all such matters, Dr. Andreas Fulda would agree that these voices need to be heard and not stifled, as increasingly, they feel they are being.

The way of life of the Chinese people who identify themselves as Hong Kongers is associated closely by them with the British heritage of Hong Kong as well as the very special Chinese legacy of Hong Kong.

If Hong Kong doesn’t wish for that to get gradually eroded by anti-regionalist Beijing, why doesn’t the Hong Kong  government look more closely at re-joining the Commonwealth of Nations and asserting itself in spite of Beijing? Hong Kong already maintains its Commonwealth links through Commonwealth legal associations and other bodies. If pursued, I’m sure that Her Britannic Majesty would be most delighted to promote the cause.

After the initial wave of shock and displeasure from nationalistic elements, such a move could prove in the end, politically benign. If the Chinese government embraced this sort of action from Hong Kong as a noble proposition, it could show a humble desire to make good of relationships outside of its boundaries.

If the Chinese government were to show more humility in this way, and realize the attractiveness of such a goal, it would win the respect of more people in the China mainland and outside of it, instead of having to try to enforce it against their will and better interests.

Sam Beatson is a PhD candidate in the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies

Opinions expressed in the CPI blog do not represent the views of the China Policy Institute or the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham. They are the personal views of the bloggers/authors.


  1. why doesn’t the Hong Kong  government look more closely at re-joining the Commonwealth of Nations

    Beijing is anti-regionalist but as a Hongkonger I feel the immense stress form the conspicuous and forceful attempt of assimilation. In my knowledge, Hong Kong didn’t attain any of the benefits and advantages offered by the Commonwealth. Hong Kong has no place in the Commonwealth Games after the 1996 Games.

    Hong Kong is a false democracy with elections, big or small, rigged by the Northern Mandarins, and of course the HK government dare not and will not raise the issue of rejoining the Commonwealth. The head of the gov isn’t responsible to the public but heavily manipulated by Beijing.

    Neither do we have a right to choose to get back to the Commonwealth or British administration or to reinforce our so-called 50-years-of-unchanged-lifestyle and high autonomy.

    We have no choice. They are introducing the Brainwashing education to our children. We need your help to internationalize our situation.

  2. Hi Andrew, thanks for your comments and for pointing out the obvious (to those in this field but perhaps not the more general readership). Your use of the word “dare” is interesting as working the system does require courage. It is not that I sincerely believe Hong Kong might try such a move – the policy suggestion is made somewhat “tongue in cheek” – however, it would be interesting to see how Beijing did respond to increased assertiveness by Hong Kong that it not in alignment with the objectives of Beijing. Very interesting indeed. I recognise that Hong Kong polity power people are pro-Beijing now at high levels making some of my “suggestions” about Hong Kong on this entry and elsewhere on this blog challenging to have implemented.

    Please note, that opinion pieces on this blog etc and elsewhere by myself do not neccessarily reflect my own views or political opinions, rather they may express arguments from different perspectives as I try to understand them, rather than towing the line of a particular cause, party or movement. Overall I hope to attain neutrality and cold analysis, although from one post to another, it may seem that an isolated post is biased towards a particular standpoint. I hope that the readership can overcome any myopia in this regard.

    I understand the popular resentment against the mandarins in Hong Kong from Chinese in Hong Kong and ex-pats in Hong Kong. Deng X-P proved very canny in the 99 year lease negotiations. Potentially without water, the best Britain came up with was to attempt to safeguard the welfare and established system in Hong Kong for 50 years subsequent to the handover. Whilst this was a sincere desire to somewhat honour the welfare of Chinese and to preserve a modicum of post-imperial prestige it is worthy to remember that the welfare of Chinese in Hong Kong has never really been a priority concern for the British administration broadly speaking, even though there are numerous exceptions and natural benefits to Chinese.

    I also think there is a need to begin to appreciate that the Chinese government has been changing and growing in ways that require reassessment and scholarly examination. It is not a worthwhile tactic to ignore the good that the Chinese government has done, in spite of perceived shortcomings of the Chinese government. The Chinese government are not “all bad.” Some of their policies and initiatives have been kind and helpful in Chinese society. While communism remains fundamentally opposed by most “Westerners” the Chinese have stretched the definitions of communism to such an extent that even the Americans accept that the Chinese form of communism is at least in part fully divorced from the kind of communism Americans love to hate. Hong Kong cannot resurrect British imperialism from within itself.

    Hong Konger’s I am sorry to say cannot stay in the time-freeze from 1997 forever, complete with imperial grandeur/arrogance perspective. It is a trip back in time politically and socially to visit Hong Kong. It provides some wonderful nostalgia for British people of some of what the Empire achieved and influenced at its peak. This is not to say that I personally would not like to see preserved the wonderful insitutions and systems which have come about as a result of the harmonious relationship that evolved out of the colonial administration and Chinese cooperation over the course of 150+ years. That would be tragic and Hong Konger’s deserve to feel proud of their unique heritage and what they have built up. I do maintain this point because surely Hong Kongese “own” the heritage of Hong Kong just as much as the shareholder’s of the old Hongs (like Jardine-Matheson – Mandarin Oriental etc.).

    Chinese (proper) feel they own Hong Kong to. Hong Kongese beg to differ. That is my understanding. And the reasons boil down to the brash vulgarity expressed by some groups of Chinese mainland visitors, some of the prejudices and at times mistaken beliefs they have been programmed with through their CCP oriented education, upbringing and life in China. Mental and behvioural anomalies that seem specific to Chinese, acceptable to them, but not acceptable to the outside world and not accepted by Chinese people to be worthy of criticism, not least by “their own kind.” Examples might include, attitude toward the sanctity of human life; attitudes towards ethics and social etiquette; rationality; etc. These are seen to have stemmed from government policy.

    The problem is that many with a modicum of power in China want the last opportunity to be corrupt and get very rich without ethical considerations or the thought of consequences or interests of the fellow man. Otherwise they might miss out. This is self interest run riot yet in some ways, fascinatingly and admirably, the Chinese (proper) are less self-interested than democratic nations. The serious problems may arise when realities around sustainability of China’s growth manifest and how those who have not become rich or middle class respond to the inequalities when the economy is correcting.

    I am sure I will enjoying donning my Pith helmet again another day. Meanwhile, I suggest you come up with peaceful and helpful plans amongst your own peers, perhaps forming groups where you can honestly and critically discuss the issues and what you can do to secure and protect the future you desire rather than the future of the external capricious power that you may or may not fear and may or may not exist (hint: maybe any capricious power is rendered without power by your own rational thinking). Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Take a lesson from “the enemy” – be positive and pragmatic! Moreover, I would suggest “the enemy” – this capricious power – is less a part of China, Chinese or the Chinese government than a need to move forward from old ideals and build new ones. Power is what is lacking in this situation for the Hong Konger’s opposed to the Beijing regime.

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