May 4, June 4 and other whiplash

Source: Wikimedia Public Domain

Now we’ve despatched the organisers of an illegal student-led demonstration, let’s celebrate May 4.

For those not familiar, the May 4th Movement began as a protest against the unfair Versailles Treaty and became a genuine social revolution.

Like the Occupy and 1989 democracy movements, the students of 1919 took to the streets in defiance of an official ban. As with the later protests, it failed in its immediate aims but the spirit and ideology lived on.

That’s why Xi and his local surrogates have been in a panic since Occupy ended.  They may have won the political reform battle, but they can never win a war against the ideas of freedom, rule of law and democratic accountability.

May 4 is now fully absorbed into the official CCP narrative; its appeals to democracy and personal liberty have been obliterated in favour of the usual folderol about feudalism and patriotism.

Tellingly, Xi this year chose to celebrate the event on April 30, his dread over the looming 1919 and 1989 anniversaries apparently overcoming the need for historical precision.

No doubt Hong Kong will stage its own May 4 memorials, untroubled by the irony of the jailing of young Occupy leaders such as Joshua Wong and Nathan Law.

But it serves as a reminder of the mental gymnastics, second nature to our mainland cousins, that Hong Kong people are acquiring.

It goes well beyond understanding which young patriots to honour and which to excoriate, important as that is.

It means we know to rejoice when foreigners call us the “world’s freest economy” while simultaneously scolding the interference of foreigners who express disagreeable views. 

We refrain from mentioning the foreign passports, real estate and foreign-educated children of officials inveighing against “external forces” and “foreign collusion.”

We can be relied upon not to speak of cross-border abductions and to pretend to grasp the logic that only an extradition agreement with the mainland will deliver justice for a local girl murdered in Taiwan.

Unprompted we are capable of pointing out that the jailing of government opponents, the prosecutions of elected legislators and the expulsion of a foreign journalist are merely the routine workings of our legal system that illustrate the success of One Country Two Systems.

Hong Kongers can see that while the Chinese state can take full control of the city “at the stroke of midnight,” 22 years is not nearly long enough to ensure “gradual and orderly progress” of our local political system.

Officials may hector us not to challenge the party’s “bottom line,” but every October 1 insist we celebrate its violent overthrow of the Chinese state.

We are ever-vigilant against separatist forces, yet overlook that time when Mao himself declared independence.

With this kind of daily whiplash, it is no wonder our increasingly unhappy population is heading for the exits.

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