June 3rd, 1989

TiVo surprises me today with a recording of The Beijing Crackdown from Discovery Times channel. I’ve only watched 20 minutes of the one hour episode so far but it already has evoked so much memory and emotion.

I was in the second year of secondary school (high school for you American) in Hong Kong in 1989. Politically naive, and though living under British colonial rule, I assumed that democracy and basic human rights are fact of life. Of course we knew of the communist regime in main land China but that, to most of us, is a world away.

The two months between April and June 1989 were a wake up call for all of Hong Kong Chinese. Here was a chance, an opportunity for China to reform. To abandon communisum, corruption, and get back on the road to modernisation and greatness. We felt helpless, living in Hong Kong, of not able to join in the student protest directly. We watched on TV everyday and night for two months about the progress of the protest, hoping that the Chinese leaders saw reasons and began dialogue with the students.

Then came the night of June 3rd.

We watched in horror, the lives of those brave students and the hope of modern China destroyed by tanks and bullets. If we felt helpless before, that night we felt guilty. May be we could have done more?

Before June 3rd, even though I was a British subject I was proud to be Chinese. We have thousands of years of tradition and history. Chinese live in more countries around the world than any other group of people. I wanted to educate myself and helped, in some small way, China to grow.

On June 4th, I was disgusted to be Chinese. From that day onward, I make sure people I meet know I am from Hong Kong, not China. I no longer have any trust in the promises the Chinese government made for the Hong Kong hangover process. The British government might have sold Hong Kong people out to the Chinese government, but at least they did it peacefully.

Looking back, I think 1989 was the year that I started the process of becoming more western and less Chinese. I no longer care about Chinese traditions, I embraced western values and beliefs. My parents sacrificed tremendous amount of their life so we can emigrate to Britain, under the pretence of providing me with University education. Now I believe they lost faith in the Chinese government as well and feared the worst for 1997.

Now I am a proud British citizen and soon to receive residence in the US. My relatives often asked when (not whether) I will go back to Hong Kong to develop my career. They were and will never able to comprehend my answer of ‘Never’. I realised that I’ve became, lack of a better term, a ‘banana’. Yellow on the outside, white inside; all thanks to the Chinese Communist Government of 1989. But at least my conscious is clear.

[Posted with ecto]

3 thoughts on “June 3rd, 1989

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  1. I do think there’s a distinction to be made between being “Chinese” (addiction to rice, flipflops and gadgets) and the Communist Chinese government. I’m not exactly keen on the current British government, but it doesn’t make me any less British-Chinese/screwed-up! 😉

    Then again, I’ve always been a banana. Comes of having no role model in deepest darkest Wales. The place where on June 4, everyone asked me how many relatives I had that were killed in Beijing. *rolls eyes*

    If you want the definitive documentary, the PBS doc. “The Gate of Heavenly Peace” is just startling. Picked it up on VCD in London Chinatown a while ago.


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