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Washington Univ. Ph.D. Student-Occupier of HK Legco on Hong Kong Nationalism.By Chapman Chen,HKBNews

Updated: Jul 6, 2019




USA Washington in Seattle University Ph.D. (Politics) student, Brian Leung Kai Ping梁繼平, was the only unmasked and identified protester in the July 1 occupation of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, triggered off by the Hong Kong Govt's attempt to push through the Extradition Law. In an attempt to lobby the activists to continue occupying the Legco, he said, "We Hongkongers must lose no more! If we retreat, we will be portrayed as mobsters tomorrow." When he was an undergraduate of University of Hong Kong, Brian Leung was responsible for editing On Hong Kong as a Nation 香港民族論(2014), a collection of scholarly articles, which, as pointed out by Leung's preface, based on Mortserrat Guibernau's (2004) concept of "nation without a state", argues that Hong Kong nationalism serves 3 functions: 1. To provide a solid moral and theoretical foundation for democratic governance and autonomy of Hong Kong; 2. To mobilize Hongkongers to oppose multi-faceted political oppression by "one country" and set up a localist ruling regime as soon as possible; 3. To rediscover, interpret and consolidate Hong Kong's unique cultural contents, lifestyle and identity, so as to avoid assimilation into Communist China. Below please find a full translation of Leung's preface by Chapman Chen.


Gist of Brian Leung's Speech in the Legco Chamber

"We have to win. We Hongkongers must lose no more. If we retreat, tomorrow TVB will describe us as mobsters and one months' labor and three suicides will be wasted. And they are gonna arrest our students and our leaders. And our civic society won't be able to stand up again in the next 10 years. This is the chance of a lifetime. Will you take your chance, stay and continue to occupy the Legco? Mind you, however, the police are coming to clear up this place. So you have to make an independent decision as to whether to stay or not to stay." (2019-7-5 video, HK The Epoch Times)


A Short Biography of Brian Leung

Brian Leung Kai Ping, 25 years old, was the editor in chief (2013-2014) of Undergrad, Hong Kong University Students Union, and one of the editors (2014) of On Hong Kong as a Nation. He graduated from Hong Kong University, majoring in Politics and Legal Studies, and from Carmel Divine Grace Foundation Secondary School. He is now studying for a Ph.D. in Political Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. He has intended to return to Hong Kong upon graduation. On June 30th, he told American Pastor Bob Kraft that he "desired a form of US Constitution and one person, one vote for [HK] elections." (Bob Kraft FB, 2019-7-5).


A Summary of Brian Leung's (2014) Preface to On Hong Kong as a Nation


Definition of "nation without State"

Mortserrat Guibernau (2004), defines "nation without a state" as a community, in lack of its own state, but sharing a common culture, a clearly demarcated territory, a common past and a common project for the future, and desiring to decide upon its own political future. Hong Kong is a "nation without a state" which aspires to become a community of cultural self-protection and political self-determination under the oppression of the central government. This is a legitimate and consistent desire that fits in with universal values.


3 Functions of Hong Kong Nationalism

The promotion of Hong Kong nationalism has three important significances:- 1.Hong Kong nationalism provides a solid moral foundation for democratic governance and autonomy of Hong Kong. 2. To mobilize Hong Kong people to oppose multi-faceted political oppression by "one country" and set up a localist ruling regime as soon as possible. 3. To rediscover, interpret and consolidate Hong Kong's cultural contents, lifestyle and identity, and guard the uniqueness of Hong Kong people's identity, so as to avoid assimilation into Communist China.

The urgent task of Hong Kong intellectuals is to re-examine, select and interpret the local history and cultural contents of Hong Kong, and construct a set of national discourses with subjective consciousness, and then turn it into the theoretical basis of the political movement. "On Hong Kong as a Nation" precisely aims at breaking into the tabooed ideological zone of "Hong Kong as a nation",


Chapman Chen's Full Translation of Brian Leung's Preface to On Hong Kong as a Nation香港民族論(2014)


French historian Ernest Renan (1823–1892) once said that "a nation is a daily referendum". The organizer of "Occupy Central with Love and Peace" launched a referendum in June, 2015, by which all Hongkongers would elect a Chief Executive general plan, so as to counter the CCP's attempt to manipulate the "general election" by way of a small-circle, high-threshold nomination mechanism, which would screen away dissidents. Eventually, 780 thousand Hongkongers took part in the referendum, showing that Hongkongers had always desired autonomy and self-governing at the periphery of China, and the realization of democratic election. However, due to the CCP's long-term suppression, so far it has not been possible. The political dilemma of Hong Kong after the handover of sovereignty has stimulated the people of Hong Kong to rethink their history, culture, identity and political future. Thus, a national consciousness independent of China is gradually formed under oppression.


British politics scholar, Mortserrat Guibernau (2004), defines "nation without a state" as a community, in lack of its own State, but sharing a common culture, a clearly demarcated territory, a common past and a common project for the future, and desiring to decide upon its own political future. Her analysis points out that the interdependent political-economic model under globalization and the increasingly diversified social relations have weakened the centralization of traditional sovereign states and also catalyzed local nationalism on the periphery. For example, the international and even supranational organizations that have emerged under globalization have forced traditional countries to surrender part of their sovereignty over political or economic affairs, so that sovereign States are no longer the only role in international politics. Instead small nations within large countries have more opportunities to upgrade themselves to a member of the international arena by way of its political skills or economic strength, just as Hong Kong has been able to open up its own survival space among empires through trade and finance.


Guibernau goes on to point out that nationalism from the 19th to the early twentieth centuries was often used to construct a large sovereign state engaged in military and economic expansion outside the country, and oppression of other minorities. However, it was witnessed at the end of the twentieth century that many “nations without state”, such as Catalonia in Spain and Quebec in Canada, launched a nationalist movement that challenged the legitimacy of the central government, resisted cultural homogenization, and sought regional autonomy or some way to struggle against global capitalistic exploitation.

Under the analytical framework of “nation without state”, nationalism can be regarded as a social movement or ideology. Through a strong identity and aspiration of autonomy, the people are united to strive for the fulfillment of different levels of appeals, including preservation of local culture, empowered autonomy, establishment of a federacy, and even the pursuit of secession to set up a sovereign state. However, the extent to which a certain nation wants to fight for it involves judgments such as cost of resistance, strategy, and political situation. Therefore, although the pursuit of separation and independence of the nation is morally justified, the nationalist movement under the globalization pattern is not necessarily related to the formation of an independent State.


There are also many commentators in Hong Kong who believe that nationalism must be backward, narrow and exclusive. Guibernau, however, refutes such a view and argues that it neglects the fact that modern nationalism is based on democratic principles such as sovereignty in the people and the will of the masses. A "nation without state" aspires to become a community of cultural self-protection and political self-determination under the oppression of the central government. This is a legitimate and consistent desire that fits in with universal values.


From this point of view, the view that promotion of nationalism in the 21st century is a retrogressive, or the labeling of Hong Kong nationalists as fascist separatists, is actually a very narrow concept. Guibernau also warns that when someone blindly denies nationalism in a sub-sovereign region, it is often an endorsement of an overwhelming, covert State nationalism, just like Chinese nationalism oppressing Hong Kong nationalism.


At this moment, our promotion of Hong Kong nationalism has three important significances. First, the democratic movement of Hong Kong people after the transfer of sovereignty has often built the legitimacy of universal suffrage on "The Basic Law so promises" alone. However, when Communist China rampantly distorts the provisions of the Basic Law, for example, by setting up such a high threshold as the "nomination committee", Hongkongers appear to be at a loss. Hong Kong nationalism provides a solid moral foundation for democratic governance of Hong Kong. That is that Hong Kong people, as a nation with its own unique history, culture and identity, and aspiring to practice autonomy within a specific boundary, should be respected and should have the right to autonomy.


Second, the White Paper issued by the State Council of China earlier emphasizes that the central government has full governance over Hong Kong, therefore revealing potential conflicts of "one country, two systems." The Chinese Communist regime pursues centralization and actively uses means of near-colonial control to stifle local autonomy, such as establishing a governance agent, importing red capital, suppressing democratic elections, and inculcating Chinese nationalism. On the other hand, Hong Kong expects to practice the greatest degree of decentralization and democratic autonomy under the umbrella of the international treaty, Sino-British Joint Declaration, and the Basic Law. However, the institutional advantages and the quality of civilization that Hong Kong relies on fail to resist the erosion and oppression by "one country", which renders Hong Kong politically passive and weak on a long-term basis. Therefore, we must reinject political energy into the "two systems". In other words, the nationalist movement based on identity and autonomy will mobilize Hong Kong people to oppose multi-faceted political oppression by "one country" and set up a localist ruling regime as soon as possible.


Thirdly, the CCP and the Hong Kong Government have been strategically dismantling the identity of Hong Kong people, by such means as exalting Chinese nationalism and its historical view, actively promoting national education, teaching the Chinese subject in Putonghua in primary and secondary schools, buying up mainstream media and suppressing local film and television industries, promoting border integration and integration of China and Hong Kong, importing a large number of new immigrants, releasing a huge number of cross-border travelers to Hong Kong, and pushing through the elimination of differential treatment based on resident status. Through the construction of Hong Kong's national discourse, we will rediscover, interpret and consolidate Hong Kong's cultural contents, lifestyle and identity, and guard the uniqueness of Hong Kong people's identity, so as to avoid assimilation into Communist China.


An emerging nationalism often begins with the scholarly interest of intellectuals. Therefore, the urgent task of Hong Kong intellectuals is to re-examine, select and interpret the local history and cultural contents of Hong Kong, and construct a set of national discourses with subjective consciousness, and then turn it into the theoretical basis of the political movement. The analysis presented above is certainly not sufficient to summarize the overall picture of the Hong Kong political situation. Therefore, in order to enrich the spectrum of the current localist and nationalist discourse. we must maintain openness of the national discourse, constantly accept criticisms and absorb new ideas, such as the exploitative legacy of the British colonization from a post-colonial perspective, or the city-state autonomy theory with Orthodox Chinese culture as its main axis.


"On Hong Kong as a Nation" precisely aims at breaking into the tabooed ideological zone of "Hong Kong as a nation", officially bringing the national discourse into public debate and practice, and inviting all friends who support democratic governance of Hong Kong to meditate upon the national identity of Hong Kong people. This book collects the special issue of "Hong Kong Nation and Self-determination" published by the editorial board of Undergrad, H.K.U.S.U. this year. The four articles therein talk about the concept of community of rights and obligations, the local political history of Hong Kong, the local culture of Hong Kong, and the right of Hong Kong people to self-determination as a nation, depicting the vision of our younger generation on the "Hong Kong nation." In addition, we are honored to have five scholars and critics writing for this book, including Professor Wu Rwei-ren, Professor Joseph Y.Z., Professor Ho-Fung Hung, Mr. Eric S.Y. Tsui and Dr. Keng Chit So, to deepen the academic foundation of Hong Kong's national discourse and realistic political analysis.



The authors of the book have no unified answer as to whether Hong Kong can become a national, what the contents of HK national discourse are, or what Hong Kong's political future will be. But, as put by Mr. Changqing Cao in the book The Value of Independence, "Independence is the pursuit of human freedom and dignity, which is not evil; dictatorship is the deprivation of human freedom and dignity, which is evil. Neither independence nor unification is standard value or principle; respect for human choice is the ultimate value." I hope every Hong Kong reader of this book will share a strong vision -- one day Hong Kong people can enjoy true freedom and proudly determine their own destiny.


R.H.S. Pic credit: HK Epoch Times

L.H.S. Pic credit: Brian Leung



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