Hong Kong’s other anniversary

Big Lychee, Various Sectors

If the touchy-feely PR spin-doctor geniuses at the Hong Kong United Front propaganda department know what’s best, they’ll nip this in the bud – veteran leftists demand exoneration for 1967 bomb-makers.

When we are just about to joyously celebrate the 20th anniversary of the handover from the UK to China, the last thing the Hong Kong government needs is the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riots to butt in. To refresh memories: pro-Beijing forces attempted to overthrow the colonial regime through violence, including the killing of innocent people, and the masses refused to join in (or ‘remained loyal to the British’ in the romanticized version). We don’t want to go there right now.

In the New York Times, Ching Cheong discusses the events, starting with the labour dispute that triggered the conflict…

Participants at yesterday’s gathering tried to distinguish between their ‘just’ cause – a struggle against labour exploitation and harsh social conditions – and contemporary Hong Kong’s anti-government protests. The circumstances are so different that any comparison is pointless. But so is it pointless for aging Communist loyalists to argue that it was OK for them to set off bombs, but not OK for the Umbrella Movement to set up barricades. Certainly, the Hong Kong establishment does not want a public debate on that right now.

However, there are bigger reasons to sweep 1967 under the carpet. Hong Kong workers in the mid-60s had legitimate, compelling reasons to fight for better conditions. But activists with Mainland connections were sucked into Mao’s Cultural Revolution insanity. In essence, they started setting off lethal bombs in Hong Kong for fear that Red Guard fanatics across the border would denounce them – maybe kill them – for not doing so.

For decades after, they were outcasts in Hong Kong and felt themselves to be victims. A consolatory post-handover medal to one of their leading figures met with public disgust. So is mid-2017 the right time to start trying to rehabilitate these old guys, and dig up Mao’s bloodthirsty lunacy and other Communist Party dirty laundry in the process? Probably not.

But wait! There’s more!

Ching Cheong goes on…

Do any of these things sound familiar? Government policies exacerbating gap between rich and poor? Check. Greater pressure on poor due to influx of Mainlanders? Check. Ideological clampdown by power-hungry dictator in Beijing? Check.

A Communist historical revisionist treatment of the 1967 riots? Not today, thanks.