How the Narratives of Hong Kong are Written With China in Sight
By Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

1. Call me One Country, Two Systems.

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged that the democracy fighters in Hong Kong must be genomically modified by the West.

3. Hong Kong and democracy — it was love at first sight.

4. An order from the PRC comes and never leaves.

5. Many years later, as the Hong Kong people remembered the ‘generosity’ of the Chinese government for not shooting them or overrunning them with tanks, they would be forced to cry in gratitude.

6. China, non-light of my life, non-fire of my loins.

7. Happy cities are all alike; every unhappy city is unhappy in its own way. Hong Kong is unhappy because it wants happiness too much. It believes that the right to vote for its own leader would contribute to its happiness. It believes.

8. democracyriverrun, past Mongkok, Causeway Bay, Admiralty and Central…

9. Hot days in September. Some rainy nights in October. Tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock the clocks were striking and Big Brother was watching. Let him watch. Let the whole world watch.

10. It was the best of times. It was the age of wisdom. It was the epoch of belief. It was the season of Light. It was the spring of hope. We had everything before us – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest Chinese authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

11. You are about to begin reading the story of Hong Kong, “One Country, Two Systems”, when you realise that such a story doesn’t exist. Keep the ‘country’, remove the plural marker in ‘systems’ and replace ‘two’ by ‘one’, then you are truly beginning to read the story of Hong Kong. (One and one is always one.)

12. Someone must have slandered Joshua Wong… for one evening, without having done anything outrageously wrong, he was arrested.

13. Whether Hong Kong shall turn out to be the hero of the international fight for democracy, or whether it will be utterly defeated, the pages of history must show.

14. It was a broken promise that started it. The students returned to the streets day after day. And the voice on the other side of the border responded with contempt, scorn.

15. Through the facial masks, between the crooked handles of umbrellas, people could be seen fighting, in their own way, which is the best way.

16. 689 was spiteful.

17. In the beginning there was the Party and the Party was with the Country and the Party was the Country.

18. There is a spectre haunting China — the spectre of Umbrellaism.

19. The Hong Kong people said they would fight for the city’s future themselves and they would bring umbrellas.

20. They say the past is a foreign country and people do things differently there. We say the past is always upon us.

21. Hong Kong was born many times: first, as a fishing village; and then, as a British colony. After that, it became a Special Administrative Region. And then one summer, it became very special indeed.

22. Where now? Who now? When now? Hong Kong now. We now. Now now.

Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is the founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal and an assistant professor of literature at Hong Kong Baptist University.