29 February 2020
The annual June 4 candlelight vigil in Victoria Park. Photo: Internet
The annual June 4 candlelight vigil in Victoria Park. Photo: Internet

Why June 4 should be a reminder to stay vigilant toward PLA

The Beijing mouthpiece Global Times opened fire at Hongkongers again last week after the Chinese University of Hong Kong decided to postpone a campus visit by members of the People’s Liberation Army’s Hong Kong Garrison in the face of fierce opposition from the students’ union.

In a lead editorial titled “CUHK students’ body smearing PLA a sign of poor self-esteem“, the newspaper called the students “naïve, befuddled, ludicrous, brainwashed twentysomething youngsters who think too highly of their abilities with jarring exclamations”.

Having read the editorial, I can’t help likening it to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s blatant attacks on a University of Hong Kong student publication about Hong Kong nationalism.

CUHK vice chancellor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu tried to downplay the saga, suggesting that no one should read too much into the PLA visit as it was planned as a routine networking event, including playing basketball with students.

Yet the Global Times editorial has laid bare the fact that the visit is politically motivated; otherwise, as some CUHK students have already asked, why would the Beijing mouthpiece become so ticked off when a basketball match between college students and troops is postponed?

Sung also unintentionally revealed that such friendly basketball matches between the military and local tertiary institutions have been held for seven years since 2007.

I guess the reason CUHK hasn’t held the networking activities so far is probably that the PLA garrison’s political commissar believes some CUHK colleges and faculties have perhaps the most profound and steadfast anti-communist culture as compared with their peers.

The plans for the PLA visit are a reminder that local democrats have for too long been fooled by Beijing’s pledges in the Basic Law and its economic sweeteners.

They have been too busy fighting for genuine universal suffrage (something Beijing will never let you have) but fail to stay alert to other soft plots to turn Hong Kong red through numerous social exchange and networking programs.

The Global Times accused CUHK students of mudslinging against the PLA, but the truth is local young people not only despise the Chinese troops but are indeed antagonistic toward them.

The PLA has become rotten to the core throughout the past decades, and some top commanders and leaders have been nailed as corrupt “big tigers”.

As for the widespread distrust and alienation, I think even writers at the Global Times know too well the cause: it is because of what the PLA did at Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

But the editorial stressed that “those students that led the protests in 1989 have all grown up and aligned themselves with China’s rapid development as unwavering patriots. With their rich experiences and sound mind, they have collectively reflected on their acts back then, and they will never bother asking a bunch of twentysomething Hong Kong youngsters to demand vindication on their behalf”.

The irony is that, those with “a sound mind” in the mainland are likely unable to think independently and critically but have to rely on the sort of “collective reflection” on past incidents where it is only the Communist Party that can determine the tone and conclusion.

There are many people at home and abroad who have done their “collective reflection” on the Tiananmen incident and ultimately switched sides, submitted to circumstances and aligned themselves with China’s rapid development to become today’s elites.

The most shining example is Leung Chun-ying, who once issued statements in newspapers in 1989 condemning Beijing’s cold-blooded massacre.

As the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen tragedy approaches, the Global Times editorial may also change the focus of local memorial activities.

The Beijing mouthpiece orders Hong Kong students to stop demanding vindication; however the fact is that an increasing number of our young people no longer acknowledge the authority and legitimacy of the Communist Party of China.

In this sense, demanding vindication from Beijing for things that happened in 1989 is meaningless, as it equals to recognizing the regime.

This is why our young people, who oppose communism and abhor Beijing’s crackdown and crimes, now find it hard to continue to advocate the slogan “Vindicate the student movement of 1989” adopted by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, organizer of the annual June 4 candlelight vigil in Victoria Park.

To them, vindication means pardoning the regime and the murders.

The revelation is that the PLA is just bloodthirsty and murderous. The PLA is not here to just play basketball and make friends.

When youngsters talk about June 4, the focus will become self-defense rather than vindication: to remind Hongkongers to stay vigilant, see the true nature of the Chinese troops and resist their veiled infiltrations.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 11.

Translation by Frank Chen

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Chinese troops visit the University of Hong Kong in 2011. Photo: HKU

PLA troops visit the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2008. Photo: HKUST

Chinese troops tour the Polytechnic University campus. Photo: PolyU

Former full-time member of the Hong Kong Government’s Central Policy Unit, former editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong Economic Journal