共。業﹕新疆﹑香港 ﹑與中國國家政權 (一) Communal.Karma: Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and the Chinese State (1)
1. Should have known/no such thing as should have known
In a class on contemporary Chinese politics at the University of Toronto in June 2009, the professor summarized after listing some examples of internal and external pressures on the Chinese communist state, “If the Chinese state was really to crumble, that’d be because of external pressures from Western countries in matters of international relations and trade, causing the regime to fracture.” Armed with observations from the Chinese nationalist website Hanwang from field research at the time, I had insider information that a major incident was coming to blows in China, and hence challenged the teacher otherwise. The aging white man gave a faint grin, and responded in Mandarin the three words “bu ke neng! (Impossible!)” which prompted a room of mainland Chinese girls to giggle in amusement.
A week later, two groups of workers in a toy factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong province broke out in racialized violence. Another week later, the July 5 Urumqi Massacre claimed international headlines at the cost of 197 lives and thousands more injured. From then on, Xinjiang, the Uighur ethnic group and their social status became one of the forefront icons of Chinese sensitive topics and censorship.
乍看起來﹑像贏了老師的辯論一場﹐而班內也不敢取笑“輕率挑戰老師”的同學了。然而﹐引此一話作為笑話或逸話未免太過黑色(還或該說是血紅色)幽默了 — 況且﹐內憂外患這兩者都屬於“社會轉變”的一體兩面﹐從來不是獨立產生或存在的因素。問哪個纔是駱駝上最後一根草﹐或許有如問雞與蛋誰先存在一樣無答案可確認。整整十年後的今天﹐同一齣故事正在香港展開。從六.九遊行百萬人﹐至六.一二遊行 “二百萬加一人”整整城市四分一人口以上﹐這民怨的累積和集結故意地群龍無首的洪流﹐似乎與革命的大浪直接衝起血色的旋渦。
At first glance, it seems like I won the argument of the day, and the class no longer laughs at the “brash young’un who challenges the teacher.” Yet, to recount this as humour would be inappropriately macabre (or should I say, sanguine) — moreover, external or internal pressures on the government are but two sides of the same coin, and asking which was the last straw on the camel’s back would be no different or as inconsequential as asking about the chicken and the egg. At ten years later today, the same story is unfolding in Hong Kong. From the 1 million march on June 9, to “Two million and one” people representing over a quarter of the populace demonstrating on June 12, this intentionally headless deluge of public resentment seems to crash into the wave of revolution and stir up a whirlpool of crimson red.
在兩次大遊行過後﹐抗議示威行動有了本質上的變化﹕在6.9記者和“哭訴媽媽”被遭受警暴﹑和6.15死諫者梁凌杰墮樓的消息傳出後﹐以往強調“和理非”(和平﹑理性﹑非暴力)的各界和家長一輩們一改既往口風﹐以身軀掩護讓“勇武派”進出占領立法會﹐保了四條或許更多的生命。在之後的輿論戰上﹐香港民眾普遍默許了行動升級的行為 — 而這一個超乎意料變化的起因並不是因為近期的事件有怎麼駭人聽聞﹐而是在集體經驗和公共歷史記憶(不限於香港﹐亦包聒如新疆﹑六四等)中的累積超越了心理的承受界限﹐纔出現了在立法會塗鴉下來這句真言﹕
After June 12, the atmosphere and opinion towards the protests fundamentally shifted: It seemed as if after the June 9 march and recorded video and photographic evidence of police brutality against the press and the “wailing mother”, as well as Marco LEUNG Ling Kit’s protest suicide on June 15, the various groups of “peaceful, rational, nonviolent” moderates decidedly altered their stance, and protected the “militants” in their occupying of the Legislative Council building on July 1 and its later evacuation, saving 4 or potentially more lives from harm’s way. In the war of public opinion in the following days, Hongkongers generally gave silent approval to the escalating action. This unexpected turn of opinion is not because the events of the past month were unprecedentedly shocking, but rather a discrete sign of finally coming to terms with cumulative experience and public memory of history (Hongkong or otherwise, such as Xinjiang or Tian’anmen) as having gone past a threshold or balance, and hence led to such words to be scrawled among the graffiti in LegCo:
在父母家長撰出 “道歉信”改觀主動支持反送中民運這分水嶺前﹐要真的“追數”(追溯)﹐香港絕不乏“過於超前”的先覺者們。入獄的佔中九子﹑梁天琦﹐2017年警告“不能相信一地兩檢”自戕的熊家俊﹐ 2008以西藏人權問題警惕港人的陳巧文﹐還有以 《香港民族論》﹑《香港城邦論》等的學士作者們…
Before this turning point of having the parents of Hong Kong writing public “apology letters” expressing their change of heart and readiness to proactively support their children’s cause in the social movement, there were already many who were aware and braced for its consequences, albeit some too early for the big moment: The Occupy Nine, Edward LEUNG Tin-Kei, HUNG Ka-Chun (a Baptist University student who committed suicide in protest of the West Kowloon HSR Station China border colocation issue on December 15, 2017), Christina CHAN Hau-Man (who publicly displayed the Tibetan flag in 2008 in wake of the Beijing Olympic torch relay in warning about the future of human rights in Hong Kong), and the many scholars and authors of works such as On Hong Kong as a Nation and Hong Kong Polis Theory pondering on the issue…
For everything that’s happened, there is no “if I only had realized sooner.”
Short and mid-term strategy and “endgame” outlooks for the current situations aside, what Hongkongers (or Xinjiang’ers or Tibetans) should be worried about is their process of self-redefinition in the long road ahead — not in how they reshape and affirm the fundamental tenets of their identity, but in the aftermath of the “Chinese” post-colonial experience, what they intentionally cut loose and leave behind.
(Part 1, to be continued)
The author is a Hongkonger-Canadian, who specializes in research on Han Chinese culture and identity politics in ethnic Chinese youth.