Skip to main content

Chinese Nationalism and the End of Hong Kong

As the Umbrella Revolution unfolded and thousands of Hong Kong students and activists occupied various streets of the city demanding genuine universal suffrage, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing and their allies in Hong Kong looked in dismay and astonishment, unable to understand what was happening. They condemned the democracy movement, which they considered an illegal act of subversion aided by foreign forces. Yet they didn't seem to take the true motives behind this popular protest seriously.

If they had analysed these motives, they would have soon discovered that there are plenty of reasons why the people of Hong Kong might be dissatisfied with the status quo created by the 'one country, two systems' model. One of them and, in my opinion, the most important one, lies in the ideologisation of society which the Communist state considers an integral part of its 'socialist' system, and which it is trying to extend to Hong Kong in subtle ways.

Just like every Communist regime, the CCP government, too, aims not only at monopolising the armed forces and the government, but also at entering into the most private sphere of every individual: the mind, the heart, and the conscience. Although the liberalisation of the People's Republic of China (PRC), brought about by the era of reform and opening up launched by Deng Xiaoping, has reduced the interference of the state in the private lives of the common citizen, the Party has by no means renounced its claim to have the monopoly of the 'truth'. To a certain extent, indoctrination is now even more successful than it used to be under Mao Zedong, because it is backed up by an unprecedented improvement in the country's material progress and international prestige.

The fact that the Beijing government intends to stick to ideology as a tool for political and social mobilisation is increasingly clear. For example, President Xi Jinping has recently urged the universities to "shoulder the burden of learning and researching the dissemination of Marxism", in a move to tighten ideological control on the institution that is most likely to encourage free and critical thinking. Another example is a campaign launched in the city of Wuhan; citizens have been urged to "internalize core socialist values through mandatory recitation sessions around the city, as a part of the efforts to bid for the title of 'national civilized city'." The desire of the Communist leadership to insulate the country ideologically from the rest of the world led it to block foreign websites and e-mail providers, including Gmail

But the most popular ideological element of Communist state-building is - counterintuitively - nationalism. While Communist doctrines themselves appeal to only one part of the population and have been, in fact, disproved by the opening up and reform policies, nationalism represents a more cohesive ideology that allows the CCP to gain a broader consensus among different social and intellectual groups. 

As I have explained in a previous article, I believe that the ideologisation of Hong Kong after 1997 is exactly the main reason why its citizens are dissatisfied with "one country, two systems". In the next three posts, I would like to explain a few aspects of the origin of Chinese nationalism and its impact on post-handover Hong Kong:

1- China's encounter with the West and the roots of offensive/defensive nationalism;

2- The CCP's programme of nation-building in Hong Kong;

3- Chinese nationalism and education in post-handover Hong Kong.   


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Will The Huawei Case Finally Awaken Democrats To The China Threat And The Danger Of Faux Free Trade Rhetoric?

Huawei Shenzhen office building (by Raysonho  via Wikimedia Commons) On January 28 the Department of Justice of the United States unsealed two cases against Huawei , China's largest telecommunications company, and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.  Huawei has been accused of trying to steal trade secrets, committing bank fraud, breaking confidentiality agreements and violating sanctions against Iran. One indictment claims that Huawei attempted to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile by promising bonuses to employees who collected confidential information. Huawei is not a company like any other. Over the years it has benefited enormously from the support of the Chinese Communist regime. The founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, joined China's army during the Cultural Revolution . In 1978 he also joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  In the early years Huawei's sources of capital were high-interest loans (20%-30%) from Chinese state-owned enterp

China releases anti-Uighur propaganda film "Black Hand"

Mosque in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, as photographed in 2008 (photo by jun jin luo via Wikimedia Commons) The People's Republic of China (PRC) has released a propaganda video titled "The black hand — ETIM and terrorism in Xinjiang", in an attempt to shape the narrative surrounding its crackdown on the Uighur Muslim ethnic minority. The propaganda film links the Uighur population to Islamic terrorism, thus trying to justify the indiscriminate persecution of the entire Muslim population. "For decades, the [East Turkistan Islamic Movement] which has close links with international terrorist organizations perpetrated countless terrorist attacks aiming to separate the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from China," writes China's state-run television network CGTN. The East Turkistan Islamic Movement, or ETIM, was reportedly founded by Hasan Mahsum, an Uighur from Xinjiang's Kashgar region. He was shot dead by Pakistani troops in 2003. In 2002 the Unite

Washington Post correspondent in China Gerry Shih assaulted for walking with Caucasian European

Gerry Shih, a China-based correspondent for the Washington Post, was assaulted on a Beijing street for "walking with a Caucasian European," according to a Tweet he posted on November 29. The assailants allegedly shouted at them: "F*** your American embassy!" Sign of the times: roughed up in Beijing street tonight for walking with Caucasian European. Neither of us said we were American but their parting shot was “操你美国使馆” pic.twitter.com/ekPLNsLBnj — Gerry Shih (@gerryshih) November 29, 2019 In recent years the Chinese Communist regime has intensified its anti-foreign rhetoric as Xi Jinping has sought to consolidate the power of the Party and rid China of perceived "foreign influence". Foreigners in China have been targeted by the government and anti-foreign sentiment has been enouraged. This year arrests and deportations of foreign teachers in China have increased amid a government campaign to promote "patriotic education." An inc