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Barking mad over Hong Kong dogs
Paul Lin

Hong Kong's Constitutional Development Task Force, headed by Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang, visited Beijing earlier this month to discuss political reform in the territory. After Tsang, this "bad element remaining from the British days" who enjoys much prestige among the public but has been left suspended in mid-air by Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, won his appointment, he hinted at his local awareness by saying that he grew up eating Hong Kong rice and drinking Hong Kong water. The report he presented on his return from Beijing, however, shows that he obtained nothing for the people of the territory and the "imperial edict" he brought back has instead stirred up great waves.

Although he only met with lower officials -- Xu Ze, the deputy director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and Li Fei, vice chairman of the Legislative Affairs Commission under the National People's Congress -- and a group of hired academics because no higher officials showed any concern for Hong Kong, the message he brought back was weighty and caused people in the territory to loose their breath.

The Communist Party cadres said that the majority of the "people" in the phrase "Hong Kong is ruled by the people of Hong Kong" should be patriots, but that general elections will not necessarily pick patriots. Ergo, there can be no general elections. These cadres also said that opposing legislation based on Article 23 of the Basic Law is unpatriotic.

An uproar then followed among the people of Hong Kong over having had their right to hold elections taken away by China, and the territory was turned upside down over the question of who is a patriot and who is not. Since those "patriots" came out one after the other to declare themselves bona fide "patriots," the democrats must be false "patriots."

This is, in fact, not wrong. The fight over who is a real and who a fake patriot has been going on ever since the PRC fought to establish itself, thus creating two China's in the 1950s. Clearly divided factions on the political left and right took form in Hong Kong. Those representing the PRC proclaimed themselves to be orthodox patriots, and after that, leftist schools became "patriotic schools," leftist newspapers "patriotic newspapers," leftist institutions "patriotic institu-tions," leftist individuals "patriotic individuals," and leftist companies became "patriotic companies" that used the famous slogan "love the motherland, use domestic goods" to sell cheap and substandard products. In the same way, everyone loyal to the Republic of China became "traitors."

Recently, however, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, Goldlion Group chairman Tsang Hin Chi has been called a false patriot.

Being a true king of counterfeit goods, Tsang loved France in the 1970s, when he manufactured fake neckties from Paris. Caught by the British colonial government twice, he was given lenient treatment the first time. The second time, as a repeat offender he was given a suspended sentence. His love for France didn't work out, and, angry with foreigners, he began loving China. Taking advantage of China's opening he used flattery and political donations to be appointed a member of the NPC's Standing Committee in 1993.

At the time, Hong Kong had two delegates to the congress. One failed to be re-elected because he couldn't overcome Tsang's financial power, and the other exposed how Tsang won over "public opinion" during NPC meetings by presenting gifts. When Hong Kong was ravaged by SARS last year, former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (A) took refuge in Shanghai, while Tsang escaped to his family home in Meizhou. Where was the patriotism and love for Hong Kong in that?

Raymond Wu, another clown, is also an NPC delegate. He is a doctor, and because he also is well versed in the art of flattery, and because he is so shameless that he dares say what other people dare not, he was included by China in the patriotic camp in the mid-1980s and became China's Hong Kong authority on the Basic Law. He often receives attention for making unscrupulous and specious statements.

In the 1990s, Wu said that since the people of Hong Kong clearly knew there was no avoiding being raped by China in 1997, why not work together with Beijing to make it enjoyable? He knew clearly what Chinese rule meant, but not only did he sell out his own conscience by fawning on China, he also wanted other people to join him in this masochistic "pleasure."

Enjoying this current patriotic climax, this man naturally could not pass up the chance to do some shouting, so in one forum he said that "people in fact seem to be like animals. If you want a dog to jump, he'll jump higher and higher as long as there are biscuits. If ... the dog bites you and you give it a biscuit, that dog will no longer know how to jump. Dolphins are the same. The people of Hong Kong used to have the fighting spirit and the enterprising spirit, but no more. Why is that? They've been given too many dog biscuits."

When this mediocre doctor compares the people to dogs, it is obvious that China is their master. This kind of discourse conforms very well to China's theory that human rights mean survival rights.

Wu, however, is the true "patriotic dog," because he has all along shouted and jumped at his master's direction. But true Hong Kongers do not care for dog biscuits benevolently dispensed by a Chinese master.

Over 500,000 people took to the streets to demonstrate their unwillingness to become dogs, and they continue to do so. Because they are unwilling to be dogs without hands, they use their hands to cast ballots, voting people from the democracy faction into district councils, and they continue to fight for the right to elect all the councilors in the Legislative Council, as well as the territory's chief executive.

If people who already are in a dog cage keep fighting, will the 23 million Taiwanese who are not yet in such a cage still want to become China's dogs? In Western countries, dogs are pets, but in China, dogs are trash. Otherwise, where would the Chinese curse "you're even worse than a dog or a pig" come from?

Some politicians in Taiwan advocate a "one China roof." What kind of roof is that? Judging from the Hong Kong lesson, it is the roof of a doghouse.

Some Taiwanese politicians are afraid of losing their privileges, and over-the-hill politicians are running for the dog house because they want to become the Taiwanese equivalents of Tung and Wu. These people are are getting ready to enjoy being raped -- as soon as China opposes something, they will oppose it, too, and if China opposes someone, they will start barking at that same person.

Taiwanese businesspeople in China differ from these people. They went there bringing their capital, knowledge and skills, and after having won their benefits, Chinese officials now humiliate these businesspeople with the condescending air of an alms-giver, using any reason, including charges of spying for Taipei, to arrest businesspeople as if they were catching dogs. Can Taiwanese businesspeople afford not to take the warning?

If the people of Taiwan do not want to become China's dogs, the Feb. 28 hand-in-hand rally really should be a rally to oppose becoming China's dogs.

Paul Lin is a commentator based in New York.

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