This month we celebrate the start of the fourth year of The Reasonable Man blog. It seems such a short time ago that it began. In this issue we refer to a few of the 200 and more posts. Its title reflects its purpose.
The blog was born during a regular business visit to Hong Kong in the autumn 0f 2019. That summer had seen large protests against a law allowing extradition from Hong Kong to certain other countries, including China. The Hong Kong government had not handled its announcements and communication well and people resented this – as well as fears of potential incarceration, or worse, in China.
In the autumn, though the government had withdrawn the bill, protests continued to demand for democracy. I watched several of them. They later escalated to the point where criminal damage occurred daily, there were deaths, and Hong Kong regularly featured in the headlines of the western press.
The stories appearing in the western media bore little relation to what I observed. Even photographs of protests seemed quite different from what I saw. I watched a small group of black-shirted, and sometimes masked, young people shouting and waving placards. Sometimes they threw objects at groups of police in riot gear who were calmly observing the protestors. Behind both groups were scores of press photographers. They outnumbered the protestors on most occasions. The photos that appeared in the media showed none of them. ‘A brave young man exercising his democratic right to protest’ read the caption to the photo of a lone figure, his fist held high towards impassive police - his supposed antagonists.
Similar photos appeared almost every day in the West, with reports of ‘police brutality’, teargassing of ‘innocent bystanders’ and praise for the protestors attacking unpopular shops or institutions. I saw none of these.
Later, the rioters (as the protestors had become) were more violent. The movement became radically anti-China, even going so far as to demand Hong Kong be independent from China. Hong Kong’s business life declined. Tourists stayed away.
Early in 2020, COVID struck Hong Kong. The bad news became worse. Lockdowns began around the world. International travel fell almost to zero. Anti-China sentiment in the west soared. In May 2020, China published its security law for Hong Kong to tackle riots the Hong Kong government was unable to prevent. Many democrats became alarmed. Western Governments were highly critical and condemned China for breaking the Joint Declaration. There were some in Hong Kong also who worried.
But businesses and most Hong Kong people, though cautious, were relieved that the streets were calm again and, despite Covid restrictions, normal business life could resume. Nury Vitachi accurately sums up the distortions of western media coverage of the Hong Kong riots in his book ‘The Oher Side of the Story’.
We commented on the cultural differences between China and the West in March 2020. In a plea for sanity, we observed that both cultures have their value and are part of the civic and community life of each civilisation. Neither is right or wrong. Yet western media and politicians persist in claiming that the western way is the only way forward for the world. Colonial missionaries also claimed that the Christian religion was a faith to which the whole world should adhere. We see the same arrogance today in western nations about their values and political systems.
The history of both Hong Kong and China is important to a balanced view of each. China’s history is one of the longest in the world. Archaeological discoveries occur almost every week. As a tiny part of China, Hong Kong shared the civilisation and values. In 1843 China ceded Hong Kong to Britain and Hong Kong became China’s international city.
Isabella Bird’s journey up the Yangtse river in the later 19th century describe an intrepid lady who took her own photographs and developed them on board. Her story also gives glimpses of life in a China that was changing fast because of western conquests and exploration.
In April 2021, China was stunned by major new discoveries in Sichuan province. The archaeological site at Sanxingdui reveals what appears to be a new ‘race’ of Chinese people from almost 3000 years ago. Scholars are still piecing evidence together. The origins, and position in Chinese history, of these remarkable people remain unsolved at present.
Our blog is China and Hong Kong centred. But we are also interested in other topics. Aging and how to deal with it in the most effective way features in several posts. We discuss the benefits and use ofelectric vehicles. We relax on sailingtrips. We dip into the latest research on the human brain. And we consider cyber fraud, new technology, education, and training. Finally, our China News section features stories from the vast local media in China that seem to us to be of interest to our readers from around the world
One of our key attractions is the layout and design of the blog. It is easy to read, attractive to look at and well indexed. In many cases we use original art at the start of some articles that we have specially commissioned.
Where we can, we also use topical photos and drawings.
I am extremely grateful to our hard-working international team who do the hard work of laying out and improving the blog. I think it looks stunning.
I wish my team and all my readers, a very happy festive season, and a bright future in 2023.
Worked on the article: