Racial purity and success

August 09, 2021 10:09
half-Chinese and half-Irish , swimming queen Siobhan Haughey was offered the opportunity to represent Ireland or Hong Kong, she opted for Hong Kong. Photo: AP

Unless you have had your head buried in the sand, you will know that Hongkongers have been having a dreary time of it lately.

Once upon a time it was only henpecked husbands who had to mind their p’s and q’s lest their wives – or mothers-in-law – got wind of something untoward said about either or both of them.

Now, of course, people wear a hang-dog expression and wonder whether something that they say will be picked on as falling foul of the National Security Law.

As if that was not enough to drive people into depression, the Hong Kong government’s rules in relation to Covid-19 are as transparent as the abyss.

Yet in the midst of all this, first came the great news of the triumph of Olympiad Edgar Cheung in the fencing.

It reminded me that fencing was introduced to my school by a Hong Kong student, Reuben Lynn.

Edgar Cheung’s Gold Medal lifted people’s spirits and gave them something really positive to latch onto.

Then, wonder of wonders, Siobhan Haughey won the Silver medal in the 200 metres free style then went on to win a second Silver in the 100 metres freestyle.

By now, people were walking around with smiles on their faces and a glow in their hearts for Hong Kong’s success on the world’s greatest sporting stage.

The wretched and eponymously named Nicholas Muk nearly ruined everything with his attack on Angus Ng for the colour of his shirt, putting that young man under a degree of unwelcome pressure that inevitably knocked him off his mental equilibrium and he was overcome by his opponent in a badminton match that he had previously enjoyed a good prospect of winning.

But it was the unintentionally ill-considered comment of a friend who remarked that Siobhan was not ‘local’ that prompted my reflection on our appropriation of the success of others.

What my friend intended by his remark was that Siobhan is not Chinese, yet even that is only a half-truth because ethnically she is half-Chinese and half-Irish.

Ethnicity aside, in every other respect she is a Hong Kong girl and, as such, demonstrably ‘local’.

Born and brought up in Hong Kong, she went to St. Paul’s Primary and Secondary Schools before securing a degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan.

She is fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin and English.

Offered the opportunity to represent Ireland or Hong Kong, she opted for Hong Kong.

Leaving aside ethnic bigots – far too many of which have surfaced lately – Siobhan is a true Hong Kong girl and famously proud to be so.

One of the most distinctive features of Hong Kong has been the inter-marriage of Hong Kong Chinese girls to men from other parts of the world.

The results of these marriages are spread all over the world and enjoy a very high probability of being high flyers in whichever field they choose.

Surely, this is a reflection of the qualities that Hong Kong afforded so many young people to make their mark.

At the heart of Hong Kong’s success is the fusion of foreign and indigenous blood, something that most anthropologists have long regarded as creating pools of genetic excellence.

All this was fostered and encouraged by Hong Kong’s outward looking perspective on the world.

Which makes the current small-minded introspection and insistence upon the purity of blood lines so very myopic.

The children of mixed marriages are representative of the concept of Hong Kong as an international city. The insistence on pure Chinese ethnicity for so many high public offices is inconsistent with Hong Kong’s historical evolution.

It also denies access to a wealth of talented men and women who could make outstanding contributions not only to Hong Kong but also to China.

Every Irishman and woman in Hong Kong also wants to lay claim to a little of Siobhan’s success.

Ultimately, the only person who has a genuine proprietary claim to us is ourselves.

So let us seize the moment to bask in the reflected glory of the successes achieved by these young Olympic sportsmen and women.

Who knows, perhaps one day someone with sufficient wisdom and vision will recognise that we are all mongrels of one sort or another and sanguinary ethnicity is a poor criterion when we seek quality.

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