In early May, China’s Civil Aviation Administration issued letters to various airline companies in the United States, demanding that they edit out Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau from the list of countries on their websites, as it claimed that they are not “countries” but parts of China. The White House issued a statement in response, effectively saying that US airline companies are in no way liable nor accountable to the communist regime, and that Americans should not been pressured to abide by China’s political sensitivities. The US government has also labelled China’s bullying tactics as “Orwellian nonsense”, as the tyrannical communist regime had previous politically pressured other international companies, such as the Marriott International hotel chain and Zara, to remove Hong Kong, Taiwan and even Tibet from their websites’ list of “countries”.
China’s Orwellian nonsense is not just limited to these but also appears in mundane, everyday areas of life too. For example, in Australia it was reported that many Chinese international students in universities often try to stifle discussion on topics concerning Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, where lecturers were forced to apologise or even lose their tenure due to voicing their independent political views and beliefs. In the US, a Chinese international student was lambasted by her fellow countrymen after she made a speech about how good it was to smell the air of freedom that she otherwise could not have had in China. Around the world, the anti-CCP dance troupe, Shen Yun, were often harassed by Chinese consular authorities, which would covertly pressure local authorities to ban Shen Yun’s performances. When the Dalai Lama would visit a locale, the Chinese consulates would issue demands to the local authorities that they do not receive nor entertain the Tibetan spiritual leader on account of labelling him as “separatist” or “seditionist”.
It is only recently that the international community seems to be saying enough is enough, with various international media publishing articles reporting incidents of China and the Chinese people abroad actively or passively pressuring foreign authorities, organisations, institutions, businesses and individuals with the Orwellian ultimatum of “comply with our political sensitivities or else!”
Orwellian Hong Kong
This whole Orwellian shenanigan has infiltrated Hong Kong as well. For example, whenever the UK government issues their six-month reports on Hong Kong that are critical of developments there, whenever the US government produces reports to Congress according to the Hong Kong Policy Act, or whenever international financial auditing organisations produces critical reports on Hong Kong’s erosion of freedom and rule of law, the Hong Kong SAR regime would often respond with condemnation, saying that such reports “interfered with Hong Kong and China’s domestic matters”.
Domestically in Hong Kong, Orwellian “doublespeak” and “doublethink” are running rampant throughout society. For example, during the lead contamination scandal in 2016, the SAR regime adamantly concluded that while the lead level had exceeded international safety limit for consumable water, the amount of contamination was not dangerous to human consumption “if spread across the span of one’s lifetime”. Yet, when the opposition demanded certain members of the SAR authorities to drink from the supposedly “safe” lead-contaminated water, the then-Chief Secretary and incumbent Chief Executive Carrie Lam slammed such a suggestion as degrading and humiliating for a government official to be subjected to a test-drinking.
More recently, on the issue of housing in Hong Kong, the SAR regime proposed that Hong Kongers should forget being Hong Kongers and accept a new identity as residents of the “Greater Bay Area”, even though the entire plan is about ethnic shuffling to eradicate Hong Kong as its own entity. Again in regards to housing, the SAR regime proposed to construct new residential areas along the fringes of the nature reserves in Lantau Island or via land reclamation along various coastlines. When criticised by environmental opponents, the regime would employ Orwellian doublespeak to confuse the issue as one between the welfare of Hong Kongers and environmentalists’, while dismissing the actual problem of not having a population policy and immigration controls as “irrelevant”.
Currently, the uproar in Hong Kong pertains to the use of the Cantonese language and traditional written script. The argument in the past had been that foreigners are dying to learn Mandarin Chinese in order to do business in China, and as a result Hong Kongers should wholeheartedly dive into learning it in schools. What is left unsaid is that while those foreigners learn Mandarin Chinese, they are learning it as a foreign language, rather than abandoning their native tongue or using Mandarin Chinese as the teaching medium in their schools. The present argument is that Mandarin should be Hong Kongers’ “mother tongue” instead of Cantonese (although the whole argument is erroneous; see my article “Spanish and Italian are not the Same”) because it is spoken by the entire China. It then follows that since Hong Kong is an “inseparable part of China”, the city-state should then also use Mandarin Chinese as its primary language, rather than Cantonese and English which had been established as the lingua franca for over a century and more.
The argument over Cantonese versus Mandarin Chinese has spilled over to the debate of traditional written words versus China’s “simplified” (aka crippled) script. Li Hui, a Chinese from Beijing who is now the Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education in the University of Hong Kong, argued that the complexity of traditional words is to blame for Hong Kong students’ mountains of workload. He also argued that everything would be better if Hong Kong kids learn to only “recognise traditional words but write in simplified”. In fact, the complexity of words has nothing to do with the never-ending workload given to primary and secondary school students in Hong Kong. The time needed to write the traditional script is not that much longer than that used for writing the crippled script; overall, the time saved when writing a whole article in “simplified” Chinese is nothing more than a few minutes at most. The real issue is the complexity of the homework, often so difficult for children that even adults are having a hard time completing the same homework. However, Chinese such as Li Hui is using Orwellian doublethink and doublespeak to confuse the issue for the lay Hong Kongers, who are none the wiser.
Yet in the end, when the Orwellian Chinese are running rampant around the world and infiltrating every sector of Hong Kong and other international communities with their poisonous nonsense, and when the average joe around the world and in Hong Kong are found to side with China’s load of bulldust, what can we do?
All we can do is get them to shut up, by telling the world the truth.