In our elementary physics class during high school, we all would have come across Newton’s laws of motion, but how many of us realise that the first and third laws apply to more than just physics? Those two laws apply to all manners of reality. For those who may have forgotten what those two laws are, the first and third Newton’s laws of motion state that: something at rest will remain at rest and something in motion will remain in motion, until acted upon by an external force; and for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
How does that apply to our daily lives? Two words summarise both laws: cause and effect. The first of Newton’s law tells us that people have a tendency for laziness, and if there is no cause to do something, then people will not do it. The third law states that when we do something, there will always be an equal but opposite reaction. Together the two laws represent the concept of karma, cause and effect.
So what’s the point of having an elementary physics lesson here?
Just a few weeks back, before the furore over whether Cantonese is Hong Kongers’ “mother tongue”, the social uproar in Hong Kong had been the SAR regime’s Education Department’s decision to revise the proposed social studies material for students in regards to the history of Hong Kong. One of the two revisions asserts that the historic reference – “Transfer of Sovereignty of Hong Kong” – is in fact erroneous, with the Education Department claiming that China never lost its sovereignty over Hong Kong, and that the city-state was merely “lent” to Britain. The other revision denies that there was a historical cause for the mass influx of Chinese into Hong Kong from 1949 to 1980 (the year when the Touch Base Policy was abolished), as if the people came to Hong Kong for no reason other than immigration.
The fallacy of the SAR regime’s argument can be exposed simply by applying the first and third Newton’s laws of motion.
Newton’s First Law of Motion
If China never lost its sovereignty, why then is there the event of Hong Kong “returning” to China’s fold? Before going any further, it must be stressed that Hong Kong’s sovereignty first belonged to the Manchurian Empire, also known as the Qing Dynastic Empire, and not the People’s Republic of China. When the former was overthrown in revolution by forces that would result in the government of the Republic of China (now in Taiwan), the statehood of the Qing Empire came to an end. When the government of the Republic of China (RoC) was overthrown in revolution by communist forces that resulted in the declaration of the People’s Republic of China, the RoC government went into exile in Taiwan, while the communists formally declared the FOUNDING of a NEW nation. This suggests that the PRC never owned Hong Kong, ever, and so there is no basis to say that Hong Kong “returned” to China in the first place.
But let us take a billion steps back. The definition of sovereignty, simply put, is “the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies.” Prior to First of July, 1997, could the PRC ever make legitimate acts over the governing of Hong Kong? Did the PRC ever have had the right to designate the Governor of Hong Kong? Could the PRC legally send their People’s Liberation Army across the Hong Kong border without a declaration of war on Britain? Did the PRC ever have the authority to issue command to the Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) which was Hong Kong’s military before 1997? Could the PRC legislate for Hong Kong’s domestic and international relation matters prior to 1997? The answer is an absolute NO. Her Majesty’s Government in Britain had a right to do all those things mentioned, so sovereignty was in the British government’s hand. You either have sovereignty or don’t; there is no in-between.
According to Newton’s first law of motion then, something at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an external force. If the PRC “always had” sovereignty over HK, why would the British government, under former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, hold talks with the PRC that was under the dictatorship of Deng Xiaoping (cursed be his name) at the time? Under the same Newton’s law of motion (something in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force), as Britain had had sovereignty over Hong Kong since 1841 (when HK was first founded), why would Her Majesty’s Government in Britain suddenly had to arrange talks with the PRC over the issue of sovereignty over Hong Kong, if the need for a “Transfer of Sovereignty of Hong Kong” never existed?
Newton’s Third Law of Motion
The SAR regime’s Education Department claimed that there was no particular historical reason why there was a mass influx of Chinese coming into British Hong Kong from 1949 to 1980 (which technically continued until 1997). However, according to Newton’s third law of motion, everything is but the reaction to the first act of creation (see Newton’s first law of motion), so the influx of Chinese coming through Hong Kong’s border must therefore have a cause; it cannot “just happen”. So what was the cause? What happened during 1949 that started a chain of influx of Chinese into Hong Kong up until the ’80s and ’90s?
Simply put, shit happened. More specifically, the Chinese Communist Party won the war against the Republic of China’s government and declared the founding of a new communist state. This one act ignited a chain of motions that forced many Chinese to flee their homes in China to make a new life in Hong Kong.
Just in case if any “blue ribbons” and Chinese declare anything I say to be figments of my own imagination, let’s use my own family’s case!
Not long after the PRC was formally established in 1949, the struggle against landowners began and my great grandfather’s family and his extended family were caught in it. My great grandfather was a landowner but a very righteous and kind-hearted one, who will not bully his tenant farmers nor extort undue payment out of them. Unlike other landowners, he requested rice as a form of payment regardless of whether money or rice was worth more, and often he would allow his tenants to defer payment if that year’s harvest was really bad across the board.
When the communists founded their socialist state and came to the Canton Province, they declared my great grandfather and his family to be “sinful” landowners that must be put to struggle sessions and denounced. One of my great aunts had to kneel on broken glass on one occasion, and be semi-submerged in a river during winter on another, in order to force her to “confess” that she and her extended family were devious landowners. The communist regime ordered that my great grandfather’s family were to be denied food and assistance from anyone else in the village, but luckily, due to his previous acts of charity, many villagers secretly supplied my great grandfather with essential supplies.
Due to the continuous persecution by the communists, my grandmother took my elder and younger aunts as well as my father (a toddler at the time) in hand to flee to the city of Canton itself, where she worked as a clothing factory worker until my grandfather (who had already moved to Hong Kong with his uncle during the war against Japan, prior to the communist takeover of China) could arrange to send for my grandmother and the rest of the family over to Hong Kong through Macau, aboard a smuggling ship. This was before the Touch Base Policy was employed. When the call for amnesty for any illegal resident came out in 1974, my grandfather immediately took his family to be registered and receive the right of permanent abode in Hong Kong. After this, my grandmother would continuously send my elder aunt back across the border on foot, with essential supplies to be delivered to her husband’s brothers and their families during the time of the Great Famine.
I’m sure that my family’s story as refugees fleeing the communists echoes many other Hong Kongers’ family history. Yet if history is as the SAR regime’s Education Department maintains – that there had been no persecution nor refugees fleeing from the communists – was my greater family’s ordeal just a figment of their own imagination?
There is a saying that there is no smoke without fire. In Newtonian terms, there is no reaction without a previous action, which could not come to be unless something broke from inertia to initiate an action in the first place.
The SAR regime’s Education Department, in denial of history, is in fact suggesting something was created out of nothing. Who do they think they are, God?