I spent most of last week resting, but managed to have three lunches and two dinners with friends outside and two meetings at Zetland Hall, which was hardly vigorous. However, I was in the park only once and managed only one gym session. I need to work harder to prepare the body for the next trip with Su in a week’s time.
As I watched the world goes by, I can’t see too much excitement. The West is still very much anti-China notwithstanding another high-level visit by another US senior official to China that was to repair relationship between the two countries and allay fears of impending and continuing conflicts. The US-China relations will continue to evolve around their respective national interests which are poles apart. In over-simplified terms, the US economy has broken down and is beyond repair and the government has little to no control over the interest groups that bear sway over the economy. On the other hand, China’s economy will continue to grow despite interferences from the US. We see that the situation has created many experts, mostly self-appointed; we see new terms, all not too meaningful, being created and well-established understandings being redefined; we see an increasingly more biased media tilted towards the West for self-preservation purposes, as we see also a more assertive China start making its baseline even clearer; and we see many other countries taking sides. In short, we are witnessing the destruction of old values, which not even George Orwell had envisaged.
I have heard the oft-repeated question of what the average person can or should do. The simple and actually the only honest answer is that he can’t and shouldn’t. We are talking about the average person, as opposed to people with or aspiring for the title of POTUS. We have seen posts on YouTube with vastly different views arising from the centenary birthday of Kissinger; we have heard what President Xi had told Blinken during the latter’s visit to China; and we have heard Biden referring to his counterpart in China as a dictator afterwards. What can the average man do? Precious very little, except to learn living in the present moment.
Inevitably and depending on who one is and where, one will have to take a position, which is something for the very individual. Questions beginning with “What if” have been around from time immemorial. We in Hong Kong, in particular have faced the question on the future of Hong Kong since the mid-60s, well before the Sino-British negotiations. Many of my friends had begun to seek emigration visas to USA even before their graduation from their secondary schools, mostly as students. They had been advised to be ultra-cautious from the date they handed in their applications, by not participating in any discussions on politics, by not meeting friends associated with China or communists, by staying away from China owned or China-related establishments, including cinemas, schools, department stores that bear such names. To the West, USA and UK in particular, every Chinese was a potential communist. Indeed, I was reminded to bear this in mind when I sought a job in the government; and since I was not born in Hong Kong, I was even all the more under suspect. Shortly after I joined the government, I learned that all government papers and documents were classified, under a series of classification, from restricted to confidential, and from secret to top secret, with different and distinct colour codes for each. I recall there was a classification known as “For British Eyes Only” to which not too well-paid Personal Secretaries or Confidential Assistants would have access, but not officers such as me who were ostensibly their supervisors and slightly better paid.
Back to what I said earlier about the West’s entrenched anti-China position which inevitably had led them into displaying double standards on recent riots in Paris, I am not surprised or excited by the situation at all. Politics is never about truths, which is why politicians must be able to retract whatever they had said or done shamelessly and as their daily fare. What else can they do? It follows that it would be futile to expect anything important from these people, except as a voter, if one believes the power of the vote in your hand.
Closer to home, we have seen the Police putting bounties of one million HK dollars on the head of each of the eight politicians overseas, three years after the national security legislation were in force. I have heard remarks that if the sums were more generous, it might motivate professionals from certain sectors to participate and yield real results faster. Once again, the incident had created the expected noises from certain quarters and we shouldn’t be bothered by them.
Su had booked the impending eight-day tour to Changbai Mountain on the border between China and Northern Korea well before I had shingles – she wouldn’t have if she knew – and I have since been warned to beware of what to or what not to expect. There would be a train journey towards the end by high speed train which has different requirements for baggage, more restrictive than air travels, apparently. My Samsonite bag had two wheels damaged from the last trip. We took it to the shop for repairs and was told that it would cost about $1K at which point the shop assistant suggested I traded it in for a new one, unless it was still under warranty. My face went blank, at which point the very helpful young lady zipped open the inside of the bag and found the warranty certificate so that I could have the repair free. It was then I realized that Samsonite had a ten-year warranty for all items. Good to know.
I would leave it here; and I hope to talk to you again after my trip, if not before that.