(en) HongKong in the pangs

Lyn and Shawn (linjin@tao.ca)
Mon, 30 Jun 1997 01:51:14 pst

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 01:36:28 -0700 (PDT) From: MichaelP <papadop@peak.org> Subject: HongKong in the pangs

This being June 30, it's the day where the Brit. colonial power departs from HongKong; of course with the vagaries of the international dateline, today may allready be over and this small eulogymay arrive too late.

Remember a couple of days ago the (US) commentators were complaining about the presence of several thousand Chinese troops on the border, all ready to march in with amored vehicles and all when the time was right.For all I understand, the Brits had marched into HongKong a century and a half ago in goodly numbers; the presence of Chinese troops coming back isn't surprising, is it.

So I've picked out a teeny little of what's available on WWW, just to make today a little more information available to you. ITEM 1:

In the eighteenth century, Chinese green tea became very popular among Europeans and Americans. Chinese silk and porcelain were also in great demand. The Chinese, on the other hand, needed almost nothing the west had to offer. This created an imbalance of trade, especially bad for the British, who were weary of sending shiploads of silver to Hong Kong. Their solution was to develop a third-party trade: exchanging their merchandise in India and Southeast Asia for cotton and opium, welcomed in China as currency, in spite of the Imperial Chinese prohibition on opium. (Opium is a preparation made from the juice of a poppy seed pod, and is where heroin comes from.) During the early 1800's opium addiction reached epidemic proportions in China, thanks to British greed. Even the upper command of the Imperial army were 'stupid and besotted', not to mention badly hooked.

In 1839 the Qing government, after a decade of unsuccessful anti-opium campaigns, enacted drastic laws against the opium trade. Their commissioner, Lin Zexu, seized and destroyed some 20,000 chests of opium and detained the entire foreign community.

The British retaliated violently, soundly defeating the unprepared Chinese, and forcing them to sign the first of what the Chinese dubbed the 'unequal treaties'. This is when Hong Kong became a British territory. England was given 'most-favored-nation' status, and British nationals were exempt from Chinese law. China also was forced to pay a large sum of money. This was the beginning of the century of what the Chinese called 'national humiliations.' ================

ITEM 2: British military power in India and the China region was exercised by a series of idiot generals, each one worse than the other in termms of eefectiveness, although, I suppose, they were good at wild game hunting, and the masaccre of helpless inhabitants. And the amazing thing is that the folks at home worshipped these killers.

I just came across a short snip about General Gordon: he didn't take part in the First Opium War , only being about 6 years old at the time HongKong was taken over.

General Charles George Gordon (1833-1885)


Born near London on Jan. 28, 1833, Gordon was commissioned in the British Army in 1852 and fought in the Crimean War (1853-56). In 1860, during the Second Opium War, he joined the British forces in China, capturing Beijing (Peking). The Chinese government later (1863) made him commander of the peasant force known as the Ever-Victorious Army, which helped to suppress the Taiping Rebellion.

He returned (1865) to London a famous figure, popularly known as "Chinese Gordon", and spent six years working with boys in the London slums. In 1873, Gordon joined the service of the Egyptian khedive as governor of the province of Equatoria, on the upper Nile. From 1877 to 1880 he was also governor-general of the Sudan and was extremely active in suppressing the slave trade.

Four years later he was sent back to the Sudan to evacuate Egyptian forces from Khartoum, then threatened by the Mahdi's army. Gordon defended the city against siege from March 1884 until Jan. 26, 1885, when the rebels broke through and massacred the entire garrison. Two days later a British relief force reached the city.

-- see also: Waller, John, 'Gordon of Khartoum' (1988).


from: Hyam, Ronald. Empire and Sexuality - the British experience. Manchester University Press. Manchester and New York, 1990.

"Gordon, hero of campaigns in China and the Sudan, never showed the remotest interest in women, but spent six years of his life (1865-71) trying to create in London his own little land where the child might be prince, housing and improving ragged urchins (turning 'scuttlers' into 'kings'), until they were packed off to sea with the onset of puberty. 'How far better', he wrote, 'to be allowed to be kind to a little scrub than to govern the greatest kingdoms.' Whilst in Basutoland, he confessed to a sympathetic missionary that his one real desire in life was to retire into a Mount Carmel monastery and establish there a small refuge for poor Syrian boys, to whom he would teach the Christian faith and 'something useful to them in the world'.

[Page 38]

"General Gordon was quite happy provided he could give the occasional bath to a dirty urchin and talk to him of God. But Gordon was probably unsuited to high responsibilities by the very fact of his not really caring about anything in life except his 'Gravesend laddies' or 'kings' as he repeatedly called them'."

[Page 14] ______________________________________________________________

For more information on the London 'boy-welfare' movement and its Christian boy-lovers - who, Koven (1992), suggests later went on to lay the foundations of the modern British welfare state - see - they say that Brit pedophilia was the reason for inventing Mrs. Thatcher. ============================

ITEM 3: And just after the incoming Chinese troops inspect to remove all traces of the imperial flag, you may hear a last glimmer of protest - this is a serious news item.

HONG KONG -- Tibetan activists in Hong Kong challenged Beijing on Friday by flying the Tibetan flag and calling for the Himalayan region's independence in a defiant protest days before Hong Kong reverts to Chinese rule.

A small group of protesters from the Free Tibet movement demonstrated outside Hong Kong's parliament in Statue Square.

One protester, Dorji Dolma, sat on the edge of a Tibetan flag. She sat Buddha-like but with her mouth gagged in a gesture representing what the activists regard as Communist-ruled China's repression of the Tibetan nation.

It will probably be the last time that demonstrators fly the Tibetan flag in Hong Kong with impunity.

The British-ruled territory reverts to China's sovereignty next Monday night after 156 years of British colonial sway.

The new authorities to be installed by China plan to ban the advocacy of independence for Hong Kong, Taiwan or Tibet. Beijing views all three as inalienable Chinese territory.

Tibet has been in China's firm grip since Chinese troops suppressed a fierce insurrection by Tibetans in 1959.

Taiwan is the last bastion of the former Chinese Nationalist government which fled to the island after losing the civil war to the Communists on the mainland in 1949.

Organizers said Friday's demonstration was likely to be the last legal one here calling for Tibetan independence.

The protest was organized by campaigners from Australia and Britain. "This banner is the Tibetan flag, and the display of this flag is forbidden in Tibet, and we're convinced it's going to be forbidden in Hong Kong after July 1st," said Alison Reynolds, director of the London-based Free Tibet campaign.

Hong Kong's future leader Tung Chee-hwa has said any calls for Tibetan independence will be illegal after the handover.

"So we thought it was very important we came to Hong Kong to warn people here about freedom of expression and restrictions that are going to be imposed on them, and also to make a final call for Tibetan freedom before it became illegal," Reynolds told reporters.

Beijing has made clear it will not tolerate Hong Kong becoming a base for subverting China.

At China's behest, Tung is introducing curbs on civil and political liberties so that protests which threaten China's "national security" will be disallowed.

Asked if the Tibetan activists were not rocking the boat by staging the protest in Hong Kong just four days before the handover, Reynolds said: "Well, we've come from overseas to make this call for independence. We're aware that Tibet is a very sensitive issue here, and we're also aware that people may not want to speak out publicly about it.

"But we feel it's important to do so, and that's why we've come. But freedom of speech, freedom of expression... is our other message here today."

The group said there were "chilling similarities" between how China plans to take control of Hong Kong and its military "occupation" of Tibet.

"The people of Hong Kong, like the people of Tibet before them, face absorption into mainland China without an act of self-determination or consultation," it said in a statement.

Although there is scant outward similarity between the bustling, capitalist territory and the impoverished Himalayan region, the group said Hong Kong and Tibet had both been promised autonomy from Beijing.

But the group said that if Tibet's experience was any guide, the "one country, two systems" pledge for Hong Kong may be "nothing more than a polite fiction that belies the deprivation of human rights and increased military controls." (Reuters)

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