Hong Kong Unraveled: Historicizing Current Crisis and Imagining Possible Futures
4: "The Second Return": Identity Politics of Decolonization in Hong Kong
Friday, March 25, 2022
3:30pm – 5:00pm EST
Location: Conv. Center, Room 313A
Independent Scholars of Asia, United States
The departure of British power from Hong Kong in 1997 was seen by many outsiders as signifying the end of colonial rule in Hong Kong. ‘One Country, Two Systems’ arrangement was also widely conceived as a clever formula for the city’s post-colonial order. However, the failure of such a system resulted in series of political crisis erupted since 2003. Beijing treated these people’s grievances as symptoms of an incomplete ‘return’ (huigui) of people’s heart and mind. Over the past decade, the ever-stronger claims for a distinct Hong Kong identity became, in Beijing’s eyes, instances to prove the existence of a separatist current sprung commonly from a kind of colonial nostalgia. In the name of ‘decolonization’, Beijing now puts in place a new order under the draconian National Security Law. My contention is that the underlying ideological assumptions of these policies are dubious. At the very least, they gloss over the complexity of identity politics in Hong Kong. In my paper, I will address the issues by giving a historical account of the evolution of Hong Kong culture, as well as the associated socio-political initiatives, before and after 1997. Based on such a review, I will explain why the rhetoric revolving around the notion of “Second Return” has indeed less to do with a de-colonial politics than a denial of CCP’s own complicity in a continuous colonial power formation which has all along been collaboratively installed by all powers involved in Hong Kong.