Peeling paint reveals work of HK graffiti artist

Source: NYT (7/17/22)
Peeling Paint in Hong Kong Reveals Work of Newly Relevant ‘King’
When he was alive, the graffiti of Tsang Tsou-choi, or the “King of Kowloon,” was considered peculiar and personal. In a radically changed city, his mostly vanished art now has a political charge.
By Austin Ramzy

When work by the graffiti artist Tsang Tsou-choi re-emerged beneath a Hong Kong bridge, the mundane setting became an unlikely attraction in a city where dissent has been stamped out.

When work by the graffiti artist Tsang Tsou-choi re-emerged beneath a Hong Kong bridge, the mundane setting became an unlikely attraction in a city where dissent has been stamped out. Credit…Anthony Kwan for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Often shirtless in summer, smelling of sweat and ink, the aggrieved artist wrote incessantly, and everywhere: on walls, underpasses, lamp posts and traffic light control boxes.

He covered public spaces in Hong Kong with expansive jumbles of Chinese characters that announced his unshakable belief that much of the Kowloon Peninsula rightfully belonged to his family.

During his lifetime, the graffiti artist, Tsang Tsou-choi, was a ubiquitous figure, well-known for his eccentric campaign that struck most as a peculiar personal mission, not a political rallying cry.

But Hong Kong has become a very different place since Mr. Tsang died in 2007, and his work — once commonly spotted, but now largely vanished from the streetscape — has taken on a new resonance in a city where much political expression has been stamped out by a sweeping campaign against dissent since 2020.

“In his lifetime, particularly early on, people thought he was completely crazy,” said Louisa Lim, author of “Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong,” a new book that examines Mr. Tsang’s legacy. “Even at the time that he died no one was really interested in the content or the political message of his work. But actually, he was talking about these Hong Kong preoccupations long before other people were — territory, sovereignty, dispossession and loss.” Continue reading

Ni Kuang obit

Source: NYT (7/7/22)
Ni Kuang, Prolific Hong Kong Novelist and Screenwriter, Dies at 87
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Best known for fantastical thrillers that doubled as political allegories, he also wrote hundreds of martial arts films for Bruce Lee and others.
By Tiffany May

Ni Kuang in 2006 in Hong Kong. He was perhaps best known for the “Wisely” series, a collection of adventure stories about encounters with aliens and battles with intelligent monsters that sometimes contained pointed political criticism. Credit…Martin Chan/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

HONG KONG — Ni Kuang, a prolific author of fantasy novels imbued with criticism of the Chinese Communist Party and a screenwriter for more than 200 martial arts films, died here on July 3. He was 87.

His death was announced by his daughter-in-law, the actress Vivian Chow, on social media. She did not state the cause but said he died at a cancer rehabilitation center.

Best known for his fantastical thrillers, Mr. Ni wrote the screenplays for many of the action movies produced by the Shaw Brothers, who dominated the Hong Kong market. He also created the story lines and central characters for Bruce Lee’s first two major films, “The Big Boss” (1971) and “Fist of Fury” (1972), although the screenwriting credit for both films went to the director, Lo Wei.

In the Chinese-speaking world, Mr. Ni was perhaps best known for the “Wisely” series, a collection of about 150 adventure stories first published as newspaper serials. The stories told of the title character’s encounters with aliens and battles with intelligent monsters, but they sometimes also contained pointed political criticism.

Born in 1935 to a working-class family in Shanghai, Mr. Ni was given two names at birth, as was the custom: Ni Yiming and Ni Cong. Information on his parents was not immediately available, but it is known that he had six siblings. Continue reading

Stuggling with the censor within

Source: Noema (6/30/22)
Struggling With The Censor Within
As the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China approaches, two longtime participants in the city’s cultural scene reflect on how it’s changed.
BY ANNE HENOCHOWICZ

An anti-extradition protester waves a black flag outside Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Complex on July 1, 2019. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Anne Henochowicz is a writer and translator living in the Washington, D.C. area. Her work has appeared in Dissent, Mānoa, and The Washington Post. She is the former Translations Editor at China Digital Times.

July 1 has traditionally been a day of protest in Hong Kong — in past years, the anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China has drawn hundreds of thousands onto the streets. In 2003, half a million people came out to protest proposed anti-subversion legislation. In 2012, protesters succeeded in staving off proposed “national education” in Hong Kong schools. Protesters occupied the Legislative Council floor for several hours on July 1, 2019, in demonstrations against an extradition bill that were cut short by COVID-19. Then, amid the lockdowns, the PRC passed the National Security Law on June 30, 2020, with immediate repercussions for political organizations, the media, activists and protesters. Now for many, simply deciding whether to stay in the city they call home has become a day-by-day proposition. Continue reading

Writer Ni Kuang dies (in Chinese)

Source: BBC News (7/4/22)
倪匡逝世:笔下小说脍炙人口、因“反共”招致两极评价的作家
By BBC NEWS

倪匡的作品

图像加注文字,倪匡的不少小说内容被视为讽刺共产党执政,虽然如此,他的作品仍然受到两岸三地读者欢迎。

香港著名作家倪匡离世,享年87岁。他笔下作品包括《卫斯理》小说系列,广受全球华人读者欢迎,他本人更享有“香港四大才子”之一的称誉。

同为作家的沈西城周日(7月3日)在社交网站公布倪匡的死讯,但没有透露详情,倪匡早年曾经透露自己患上皮肤癌。

倪匡1935年在上海出生,曾经在中国公安部门工作,22岁逃难到香港。抵达香港后曾经做过杂工,之后在报社工作,职业生涯中创作了超过300本小说和450个电影剧本。他在1992年与妻子移居美国,2007年搬回香港。

他的不少小说内容被视为讽刺共产党,笔下小说不容易在中国大陆购买。虽然如此,他的作品仍然受到两岸三地读者欢迎。他去世的消息传出后,不少中国大陆网民到他的微博帐号留言悼念,但也有网民继续就他的反共立场批评他。 Continue reading

HK Palace Museum’s controversial beginnings

Source: SCMP (7/1/22)
Hong Kong Palace Museum: highlights to see among the national treasures on loan from Beijing, and its controversial beginnings
When the Hong Kong museum opens on July 2, there are some stunning national treasures to see among more than 900 loaned by the Beijing Palace Museum. Its opening is the culmination of a project criticised for the lack of public consultation when Hong Kong’s then No 2 leader Carrie Lam announced it in 2016
By

A festive robe made for a Chinese emperor on display at the Hong Kong Palace Museum. First announced in 2016, the museum is finally opening on July 2, 2022. Photo: Sam Tsang

A festive robe made for a Chinese emperor on display at the Hong Kong Palace Museum. First announced in 2016, the museum is finally opening on July 2, 2022. Photo: Sam Tsang

The Hong Kong Palace Museum, in the West Kowloon Cultural District, officially opens to the public on July 2 and features a range of Chinese artworks and relics.

The grand opening of the Hong Kong counterpart to Beijing’s Palace Museum coincides with the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. Nine galleries fill the 13,000-square-metre (140,000 sq ft) space, spread across five floors, exhibiting ink paintings, calligraphy, ceramics and other artefacts dating from as early as the 10th century.

Most of the pieces on loan are appearing in Hong Kong for the first time. Continue reading

HK resistance will live on

Source: SupChina (6/28/22)
Hong Kong resistance will live on
Beijing’s national security law has had a chilling effect on protest and free speech in Hong Kong, but the city — contrary to popular punditry — is far from dead.
By Ho-fung Hung

Illustration for SupChina by Derek Zheng

In June 1995, Fortune magazine ran a cover story titled “Death of Hong Kong,” anticipating the end of freedom in the city upon the sovereignty handover to China in 1997. Twenty-five years later, commentators are still declaring the death of Hong Kong, this time under the national security law, imposed on the city from Beijing in 2020. Are they right this time?

The national security law ushered in a new political order in the city. Beijing revamped the election system by introducing rigorous loyalty vetting of candidates and reducing the proportion of directly elected seats. Political organizations, NGOs, and pro-democracy media disbanded one after the other when their leaders, activists, or employees were arrested or fled Hong Kong to escape prosecution. Student unions in universities were forced to shut down.

As such, Hong Kong lost many of the freedoms that separated it from mainland China. The new political order is much more chilling than most people are accustomed to. But saying it spells the end of Hong Kong’s struggle for freedom and democracy is an exaggeration. In the short run, it is true that we will no longer see vibrant political debates, lively elections, free academic pursuit, and street protests. The political awakening of the Hong Kong people, the strengthening of their local identity, and the quest for self-determination that underlined the 2014 Occupy Movement and the 2019 uprising may go dormant. But it will not go away. Continue reading

HK’s road to reinvention

Source: NYT (6/30/22)
‘Everything in Hong Kong Has Changed’: A Road to Reinvention
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In the 25 years since the handover to China, life on Queen’s Road, the first thoroughfare built by the British after they seized the territory, has been transformed.
By Hannah Beech. Photographs and Video by Sergey Ponomarev

Cinemagraph

HONG KONG — On the day that Hong Kong was returned to China a quarter century ago, the noodle maker of Queen’s Road worked as he had done for days and decades before, mixing flour and water into sustenance for a city filled with refugees from the mainland. To satisfy the diverse tastes, he made tender Shanghai noodles and Cantonese egg pasta, slippery wonton wrappers from China’s south and thick dumpling skins beloved in Beijing.

When the five-starred flag of the People’s Republic of China replaced the Union Jack on July 1, 1997, it rained and rained, the water rising fast along Queen’s Road and its tributaries. Some people took the deluge as an omen of Communist control, others as a purifying ritual to cleanse Hong Kong of Western imperialism.

The storm held no greater meaning for To Wo, who ran the noodle shop with his family. Mr. To still had to work every day of every year, feeding dough into clanging machines and emptying so many bags of flour that everything was dusted white, even the shrine to the kitchen god.

“I was busy,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of time for fear.”

In the 25 years since the handover, the only constant has been change, both defined and defied by the people of Queen’s Road, Hong Kong’s most storied avenue. All around them, a city has been transformed: by the dizzying economic expansion of mainland China threatening to make this international entrepôt unnecessary, but also by the crushing of freedoms by Hong Kong’s current rulers, who have filled jails with young political prisoners. Continue reading

HK in Transition

HONG KONG IN TRANSITION (1995-2020)
An open access photographic archive for anyone interested in Hong Kong and its history
https://arthistory.hku.hk/HKinTransition/

Welcome to the Hong Kong in Transition website, a resource for formal or informal study of Hong Kong’s history during the period leading up to decolonization and during the early part of its existence as a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. This is a not-for-profit and free to access website which presents an archive of photographs of Hong Kong taken between 1 January 1995 and 1 January 2020. Photos may be in either black and white or colour, and all have been taken by the same photographer, David Clarke. Continue reading

HK Palace Museum set to open

Source: China Daily (6/28/22)
A 360° tour of Hong Kong Palace Museum
By chinadaily.com.cn

Scheduled to open to the public on July 2, the Hong Kong Palace Museum will display on rotation more than 900 treasures from the collections of the Palace Museum in Beijing. Built over four years, the design and construction of the HKPM reflect the charm of traditional Chinese culture.

Check the video to get a 360° tour!

See also: Director of the Beijing’s Palace Museum speaks on cross-culture exchange

New textbooks claim HK was not a British colony

Source: BBC News (6/15/22)
Hong Kong: New school books claim territory was not a British colony
By Frances Mao, BBC News

A woman carries the Chinese and Hong Kong flags while walking down Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong

IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES: China has long said that Britain’s rule in Hong Kong did not usurp its sovereignty over the territory

New textbooks for Hong Kong schools will state the territory was never a British colony, local media report.

Instead, the books declare the British “only exercised colonial rule” in Hong Kong – a distinction drawn to highlight China’s claims of unbroken sovereignty.

China has always asserted it never gave up sovereignty and its surrender of Hong Kong to the British was due to unfair Opium War treaties in the 1800s.

The UK returned Hong Kong to China in 1997 after ruling for over 150 years.

During its rule, it referred to Hong Kong – a port with a deep harbour that grew into a booming city state, and one of the world’s leading financial centres – as a colony, as well as a dependent territory.

The United Kingdom governed the area from 1841 to 1941, and from 1945 to 1997, after which it was handed back to China. Continue reading

Hong Kong’s first art-house film

Source: SCMP (6/5/22)
Hong Kong’s first art-house film, Cecille Tong Shu-shuen’s The Arch, starring Crazy Rich Asians’ Lisa Lu Yan, was ahead of its time
Cecille Tong Shu-shuen’s The Arch is an elegant psychological drama about a widow who has committed to receiving a stone ‘arch of chastity’. With its roots in a folk tale, it may have also been Hong Kong’s first ‘independent’ film, having been fully funded by the director and her family
By Richard James Havis

Lisa Lu in a still from Cecille Tong Shu-shuen’s The Arch (1970), considered to be Hong Kong’s first art-house film.

Lisa Lu in a still from Cecille Tong Shu-shuen’s The Arch (1970), considered to be Hong Kong’s first art-house film.

Martial arts films were all the rage in the late 1960s and 1970s, so it may come as a surprise to learn that the era also produced what is considered Hong Kong’s first art-house film.

The Arch, a Ming dynasty period piece directed by Cecille Tong Shu-shuen (sometimes known as Shu Shuen or Cecile Tang) in 1970, is an elegant psychological drama about a widow who has committed to receiving a stone “arch of chastity”. Although The Arch only played for three days on its original release in Hong Kong theatres, it went on to become a highly regarded work of cinema.

“The art-house look and ambitions of the The Arch set it aside from much of the commercial output of the early 1970s,” Roger Garcia, former director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, tells the Post. “For a historical period film of the time, it lacks much of the requisite commercial action and sexual passion that were prevalent in contemporary local studio films.

“As one of Hong Kong cinema’s first women directors, Shu Shuen’s portrayal of a woman weighed down by social convention and the question of fate is more nuanced and ambiguous than those of male directors.”

Continue reading

In Hong Kong, the search for a single identity

Source: NYT (5/18/22)
In Hong Kong, the Search for a Single Identity
To explain the city’s fraught present, two books look to its past.
By Amy Qin

Credit…Samantha Sin/AFP via Getty Images


INDELIBLE CITY: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong, by Louisa Lim
THE IMPOSSIBLE CITY: A Hong Kong Memoir, by Karen Cheung

The first Hong Kongers, so the myth goes, were rebels. In the fifth century a Chinese official named Lu Xun incited a rebellion against the Jin dynasty. He lost, and fled with his army to Lantau, one of Hong Kong’s islands, where they lived in caves and ate so much raw fish that, according to one popular version of the legend, they grew fish heads. Indigenous Hong Kongers, the so-called Lo Ting, are said to be these insurrectionist mermen.

In recent years, the Lo Ting have inspired television shows, artworks and plays in Hong Kong. To those who perpetuated the myth, it didn’t matter that the tale was utterly fantastical. What mattered was that the story was created by and for Hong Kongers. It was an alternative to the dominant narratives told about the city by the British and the Chinese. It was an effort by Hong Kongers to reclaim their own history.

Two new books advance that effort by centering the voices and perspectives of Hong Kongers. Louisa Lim’s “Indelible City” dismantles the received wisdom about Hong Kong’s history and replaces it with an engaging, exhaustively researched account of its long struggle for sovereignty. And in her pulsing debut memoir, “The Impossible City,” Karen Cheung writes eloquently about what it means to find your place in a city as it vanishes before your eyes. Each book sheds a different light on how longstanding forces converged to foment the sustained outpouring of anger and frustration that in 2019 shook Hong Kong to its core. Continue reading

HK police arrest Cardinal Joseph Zen

Source: NYT (5/11/22)
Hong Kong Police Arrest Former Bishop in National Security Case
Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, was among three held for their work with a legal aid group that helped protesters and that officials accuse of colluding with foreign powers.
By Austin Ramzy and Tiffany May

Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, has been critical of the official crackdown in Hong Kong.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, has been critical of the official crackdown in Hong Kong. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — The Hong Kong police arrested three prominent activists on Wednesday, including a retired bishop and a pop star who were leaders of a legal aid organization now under investigation for suspected violations of the city’s strict national security law, a lawyer for the group said.

The arrests are the latest in a sweeping crackdown that followed widespread antigovernment protests in 2019 and the imposition of the security law on the territory a year later. More than 170 people have been arrested under the law since it was implemented, and dozens are in custody awaiting trial.

The police arrested Cardinal Joseph Zen, a 90-year-old former bishop; Denise Ho, a prominent Cantopop singer and L.G.B.T.Q. rights activist; and Margaret Ng, a lawyer and former lawmaker. They were all trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, an organization founded in 2019 to provide grants to people who were arrested for participating in demonstrations. Continue reading

CUHK position

Associate Professor / Assistant Professor
Department of Chinese Language and Literature
Chinese University of Hong Kong
Closing Date: May 31, 2022

The Department of Chinese Language and Literature is in the Faculty of Arts that offers diversified programmes including the undergraduate and the postgraduate programmes. There has been a clear position of the Department that sets a foothold in Asia with a global vision, aiming at combining tradition with modernity and promoting traditional culture while also keeping pace with the progress of the times.

The Department is now inviting applications for the post of Associate Professor / Assistant Professor in the area of modern Chinese literature. Applicants with research interests in the global Chinese literature, transcultural studies, or media studies including films, performing arts, and audio-visual culture are particularly preferred. Further information about the Department is available at http://www.chi.cuhk.edu.hk/. Continue reading

Star Ferry may sail into history

Source: NYT (4/19/22)
Star Ferry, ‘Emblem of Hong Kong,’ May Sail Into History After 142 Years
Launched in 1880, the ferry has witnessed both Hong Kong’s transformation into a global financial hub and its history of protests. But battered by a pandemic, the service is struggling to survive.
By Alexandra Stevenson

Passengers riding on a Star Ferry, offering spectacular views of the harbor in Hong Kong.

Passengers riding on a Star Ferry, offering spectacular views of the harbor in Hong Kong. Credit…Anthony Kwan for The New York Times

HONG KONG — On a damp Monday morning in Hong Kong, Freeman Ng looked out from the upper deck of the Star Ferry as it approached land. A sailor tossed a heavy rope to a colleague on the pier, who looped it around a bollard as the swoosh of the waves crashed against the green and white vessel pulling in from Victoria Harbor.

Mr. Ng, 43, commutes from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island on the ferry most weekdays. The subway would be much faster, but Mr. Ng prefers to cross the harbor by boat. “The feeling is better on the ferry,” he said, taking in the salt air.

Hong Kong has had many casualties over the last three years. Mass social unrest in 2019 scared off tourists and hit restaurateurs and hoteliers. Coronavirus restrictions wiped out thousands of mom-and-pop shops. But the prospect of losing the Star Ferry — a 142-year-old institution — has resonated differently. Continue reading