by Sam Beatson

The following is an edit of an interview conducted online using a chat interface. Brian Cheung (anonymized) is a 19 year old student majoring in Communication in Hong Kong who was involved in recent protests on July 1st against ‘national education’. This protest has been followed in Hong Kong by further raising of the colonial flag against ‘smuggling’ at the Shenzhen boundary and in protests calling for cancellation of the October 1st National Day.

SB: Tell me a bit about why you felt the need to street protest in Hong Kong.

BC: … July 1, the celebration day of the handover…was my first time to protest. I felt that many things had been deteriorating in Hong Kong and had reached a level that was intolerable. Additionally, I was influenced by an increasingly popular online radio studio, called Hong Kong People Reporter. They encouraged their audience to step out and take action.

SB: What specifically was ‘Reporter’ asking you to protest about?

BC: The governance that we feel resentment against- there were and still are problems. The most important one is the penetration of the Power exerted by the CPC. Many of the populace of Hong Kong think that there exists a hidden secret agenda of the government ordered by the CPC.

SB: As a young adult, how do you feel or experience this penetration of power in your life?

BC: It is difficult to define. We find that there are many more pressures and resentments. The government is increasingly under the control of the CPC. Not only does the Chief Executive(s) formulate policies after something that has been said by the CPC leaders, like the national education brainwashing, the voting system has long been rigged. At the local level, the District council and the Legislative Council elections are rigged by transfer of benefits and manipulation of some illiterate elderly and the handicapped.

These matters are widely publicised in local media. They give out bags of rice, dumplings, free meals and many other items. Of course I am talking about the pro-establishment parties. The ex-CE, Donald Tsang, a UK-honoured person has been accused of transfer of benefits. And the present CE in office had an illegal structure at his luxury house, but what is ironic and enraging is that he used his opponent’s shortcoming which was again an illegal structure, to attack him.

SB: On your webpage you promote the British Hong Kong flag, you also assert “it is a stark truth that under foreign administration/rules the Chinese culture is better preserved.” Can you tell me more about this view amongst your peers from your experience?

BC: First, some of the people would like Hong Kong to return to British Administration, as a colony, or to seek development of democracy under British help. Secondly, some of them loved conditions in the 70s, 80s or 90s under British admin. Thirdly, some of them have a flag which includes only the Lion-Dragon emblem. These strive for high autonomy, which was actually and very vaguely promised by the Chinese govt. but was found gradually infringed upon.

SB: Is there anything you’d like to add to sum things up? For example, what would you like to be the outcome of your protests?

Hong Kong Coat of Arms (colonial)BC: To sum up, I think that we should stamp out the influence of the CPC, or put a limit to it. I am not very sure about a totally independent HK, but to remain and recover high autonomy and HK people ruling by HK principles is most important. The agenda I mentioned was orders given directly to the CE to impose national education, reflecting CPC bossiness. Generally, we Hongkongers have negative thoughts about China. They promised us freedom and democracy but it is still largely unachieved up to now. I personally believe that they are unwilling to give us what is promised. It feels we are being forcefully assimilated into a mainland society that does not possess the civic qualities we HongKongers have and generally behave according to.

Sam Beatson is a PhD Candidate at the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham

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. 譚志強博士 (葡文:Dr. Ricardo Reis da Camões Tam 英文:Dr.Tam Chi Keung) of Macao University of Science and Technology had the following to say about Hong Kong’s situation: a primary school student (China) governing a secondary school student (Hong Kong far more advanced in all all aspect). Not to mention that the British/Britain is a university student. HK largely remain unconvinced by the Chinese colonial rule, as the CCP and China is corrupted and Hong Kong is a developed, self-confident proud region with superiority and respect for its people from all the world.

  2. Dear ‘the Why’, thank you for your comment. I am a supporter of China and of Hong Kong as a part of the Greater China region, and at present, formally ceded to PRC sovereignty under established conditions July ’97. I do not wish to form agreement or disagreement with the opinion that you mention, simply because it seems like an invitation to take sides on the matter and also to make judgment on China that implies inferiority, immaturity and being a laggard in accomplishments.

    Happy to observe and participate as a facilitator of the airing of perspectives, if and when I have time. I do not think it is helpful or sensible, let alone fair to censor such views. However, in a time where China chooses to assert its progress and internal imperfections are denied seemingly at all costs, this will make difficult reading for Chinese people more accustomed to CCP guiding principles.

    However, what I will opine quite frankly, is that in spite of China putting the US on the back foot – for years – people on a tiny island with a temporarily ceded (‘leased’) add-on bit of territory are standing up to the emergent super-power on its front door step in a provocative and in-your-face manner. That is incredibly courageous and a show of determination to uphold values like none I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. Not only that but it is non-violent (so far dare I add). It is a source for mirth as well, to those who don’t take themselves too seriously, that is. Cheers.

  3. The high autonomy is a vague word. It could be defined differently according to anyone’s will. Our autonomy is being eroded bit by bit and would soon totally have vanished long before 2047. Such promises should be seen as an expediency to take Hong Kong back. It seems that the CPC are going back on their words much earlier than 2047.

    “People on a tiny island with a temporarily ceded (‘leased’) add-on bit of territory are standing up to the emerging superpower on its front door step in a provocative and in-your-face manner.”

    you can say that such movements or doings is acts of bravery. This is what Hong Kongers are like, 刁民(trouble-making obstinate people), after all. We don’t appreciate 黨恩國恩.

  4. It’s an interesting position, if inflexible. I’ve heard American business leaders in China and Hong Kong who have spoken of “going for it” in terms of seeking re-administration of both Hong Kong and, this is quite absurd given the nuclear submarines, but Hainan province as a larger version of a strategically located trade port/base for working with China, just in open-minded dialogues. However, Chinese business leaders in Hong Kong, according to press, think that ceding Hong Kong back to UK would be entirely unpalatable for Beijing. I refer to the following article in the Washington Post (opens in a new window). I take no position on the matter, only that it makes interesting out-of-hours discussion. At some point, I will try to get an interview with managers/owners of the old Hongs, like Jardines for example, see what they say about all this.

  5. llxsab, are you a correspondent of the newspaper of a high international reputation or influence? I hope you can read the Chinese Language. You will miss much information and direct access to many Hongkongers’ (or at least HK netizens’) views.

  6. It’s funny how the they are protesting for more autonomy and yet when we were colonized by the British we weren’t allowed to elect our own leaders. They were directly appointed by the British government.

    In addition, there was always a subtle, racist environment where the locals were not seen as fit to run their own administration (and prior to the 80s it was even blatant).

    1. In the times of British Administration, every aspects of the city were in better operations and everybody felt happier than now. They have tried to grant us autonomy in the 1950s but was latter abandoned. Christ Patten, the last governor remembered for its eloquence and many personal qualities and well-done policies as what have been done to the predecessors, have instilled many Western ideas and thus underlying the many Mainland-HK disputes.

      He stated the democratization and give expectation to the people for more improvement.

      Now, we have “當家作主”, governed by the CE and the LegCo of fake democratic elections rigged by the CPC. Now HK’s problems could be said to be the displacement of reality and the expectations in the administratorship and ability of governance. HK people running HK does not work.

      In addition, there was always a subtle, racist environment where the locals were not seen as fit to run their own administration (and prior to the 80s it was even blatant).

      Very badly and unfortunately, it is the proven truth.

    2. When the administration under the British was good, who would do pledge for democracy. More democracy is an weapon to do against Chinese influence. Hongkong people fear the chinese communist party.

  7. However, in mitigation is must be said that later governors (including prior to 80s as you mention) did much to increase the representation of Chinese locals within the administration and to collaborate with local Chinese leaders in order to harmonize relations. Even as you mention, not being allowed to elect leaders, the colonial administration continues to be preferred by some to an election interpreted as a sham and a leadership that is backed by a system of government fundamentally opposed by the value system instilled in locals by their families, freedom and independence of thought and education. In my experience any racism is as much Chinese as it is colonial – look at the way Pinoy and Indonesian domestic workers are represented on HK prime time TV as gollywog dolls with mops in their hands & stereotypical personalities. Chinese students at the universities in Hong Kong create projects to raise awareness about these issues and find that the racism is as much Chinese as coming from any external rapacious creditor. That leaders are now “elected” makes the point of the protesters even stronger arguably and harder to stomach over the boundary.

  8. Chinese have long thought themselves as more civilized and before the Opium War they called British people “barbarians”. Even nowadays there are still racism in the China. Yellow people blame the white for racism but do not blame themselves for racist against the darker. Chinese literally think in this way: White>Yellow>Brown>Black

    later governors (including prior to 80s as you mention) did much to increase the representation of Chinese locals

    There had been acts to give more places for Chinese representatives, it was the Chinese reluctance and apathy to politics that prevented themselves for getting higher autonomy.

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