I entered Hong Kong as many of us old colonials would: with a British passport (air hair lair, what) and a falling-apart Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card (PIC).
I did have a few problems with the latter, because it was issued in 1995, and it did not have much of the information that the new ones now contain, like your thumbprint, a photograph without a Melrose Place hairstyle and samples of my DNA contained in hermetically sealed vials of sweat, or whatever these newfangled things they have nowadays on identity cards.
(In fact, I had problems with my British passport, notably at Waterloo Station where the passport controller insisted I was not British and had to queue up with foreigners. It was ironic that she was black and was herself practising apartheid. I had been British for longer than she had, thank you very much. The matter was ultimately raised with the PM after correspondence with the British High Commissioner, the Foreign Secretary, and the Shadow Foreign Secretary was ignored. I was going to expose all this and had some Fleet Street friends willing to aid and abet in the cause of true patriotism, but then HRH Princess Margaret went and inconveniently died on us and took out available column inches.
Since then, armed with this correspondence, I have not had any problems entering the United Kingdom on a British passport. I was under the impression we overseas British had the same Queen whose ‘Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance’. Funnily enough, this is respected in France and Germany, even the US where we are allies on the War on Terror, but not Britain herself. But I digress.)
I was still let through because the PIC number matched what was noted on my passport, though the controller, a very charming lady by the name of Y. T. Chan, advised I should get the PIC changed ASAP.
Fast forward to today. We are very law-abiding, we British, so I began checking. There’s nothing at the British High Commission site about the PIC, but the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region website does have an application form and some notes.
The problem, as I discovered, is that Britons like me cannot get a new PIC without applying for a HKSAR passport at the same time, which entails becoming a Communist.
And I know from experience that my deﬁnition of ‘Chinese citizen’ somehow differs from that of the Politburo politician and the Beijing bureaucrat.
My father did not escape from the Commies in 1949 just so his son could get into bed with the Reds.
My mother did not insist on emigrating in 1976 to avoid the perceived peril of 1997 just so her son could get into bed with the Reds.
I am proudly Chinese. I am proud of my culture. I am proud of my heritage. But I do not believe that the chaps who came to occupy my family’s land in ’49 have much of a right to it.
Or the chaps that overran Beijing.
Not while the Chinese people lack self-determination, a basic requirement under the UN Charter if China wishes to call itself a state.
Some of my family members are technically, if not willingly, communists, but it doesn’t mean I have to join them.
All I want is to retain my nationality as a British subject and get a PIC to which I believe I am rightly entitled by my domicil of origin.
Back in 1995, this was perfectly feasible and I was under the assumption that the Reds would continue respecting the status quo ante when it came to administrative matters like this for an uninterrupted 50 years. And since when have Hong Kongers gone and pissed off Beijing? Well, apart from every June 4?
We have contributed quite nicely to the Pekingese capitalist public purse, and the sayings of the old Chinese proﬁt.
I do hope, one day, there will be a united China, possibly a commonwealth of independent states. I also hope to see self-determination by all Chinese people exercised in my lifetime. But I have zero afﬁnity with communist régimes, anywhere in the world, and certainly won’t be looking at changing my allegiance from HM the Queen, even if modern Britain is in a mess and it gave us Gary Glitter and selected nonces. There are some of us who are proud to be old colonials, who remember what it used to mean to be British, even if it is couched in some idealist, double-decker-bus-and-cobbled-street world where John Steed could poke a baddie with his brolley—and without us colonials kowtowing to any body, thank you very much.
And quite simply, I agree more even with a faded modern Blairbrown-shaded Britain subservient to some Brussels Bonaparte than with a totalitarian régime that did its best to try to knock some of my family off, or shove them into jail on no charge.
There is quite a price to be paid for loyalty to Her Britannic Majesty, but there you have it. It is a choice I quite publicly make. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:50
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