In 1947, my 40-year-old grandfather left his comfortable teaching position in Guangzhou, in southern China, to search for a job in Hong Kong.
Two years later, as civil war raged in China, my grandparents and their seven children packed into a crowded train filled with refugees fleeing to Hong Kong, the war-ravaged British colony still struggling to recover from the Japanese occupation. They were among the hundreds of thousands of people escaping to Hong Kong in the months before the Communist Party took control of China in October 1949.
During the past century, mainland Chinese people have gotten used to leaving their homeland.… Seguir leyendo »
The other day I went into a family-run noodle shop and when I paid, I handed over a colonial-era one-dollar coin with the British queen’s head. I instantly felt a pang of regret.
“Sorry, could I swap it? I want to save the one with the queen’s head,” I explained, popping another dollar coin with a Bauhinia flower into the money pot and retrieving my old coin. The owner frowned and gave me a funny look.
I was puzzled by my own action. It’s not like I loved living under the colonial government. I vividly remember the sense of humiliation we endured: as a child in the 1970s, I remember kids from the nearby British school habitually jumping the public bus line.… Seguir leyendo »
My three-year-old daughter came home one day late last year, proudly waving a paper Chinese national flag that she had made at her kindergarten. The five yellow stars were neatly colored-in amid a sea of red on a piece of paper stuck onto a drinking straw.
“Look, mom, it’s got to have five stars!” she said excitedly. Then she paused.
“Mom, will you take me to see the flag-raising ceremony in Beijing?” she said with her little eyes twinkling expectedly. Then she started humming the Chinese national anthem.
I was taken aback. I murmured: “Yes darling, one day, when you’re older.”
This indoctrination of patriotism is coming a bit too early, I thought.… Seguir leyendo »
Have you been called stupid, ugly, useless or garbage by your parents? Were you ever caned, slapped or spanked? Were you barred from watching TV and made to practice music for hours?
Most of my Western friends were shocked when I told them I had been subjected to all of this as a child. Yet in Hong Kong there is nothing unusual about it — this is just normal parental discipline in Chinese culture.
To those who were outraged by the strict disciplinarian Chinese parenting style touted by “Tiger mother” Amy Chua in her controversial new book, some perspective is necessary.… Seguir leyendo »
Banned books and milk powder: What do they have in common?
This: They are among the most prized commodities on the must-buy list for many of the millions of Chinese tourists who come to Hong Kong every year.
In this former British colony, books considered too politically sensitive for mainland China are widely available in bookshops. And since news emerged two years ago that many young children in China had died or fallen seriously ill after drinking local formula adulterated with the toxic chemical melamine, imported milk powder has become a priority purchase for our visitors.
When a Chinese writer whose books are banned in China visited Hong Kong recently, I asked if he would have time to meet up for a chat.… Seguir leyendo »