Recently, mainland China unilaterally terminated its “One Country, Two Systems” arrangement with Hong Kong. This, its failure to abide by the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which states that the “basic policies of the People’s Republic of China regarding Hong Kong . . . will remain unchanged for 50 years”, and its refusal to fulfil the terms of the Hong Kong Basic Law, especially Instrument 23, which envisages that “the selection of the Chief Executive and the election of all members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage will be realized in accordance with the Hong Kong Basic Law and this Decision” has caused great dismay and concern in the Special Administrative Region. In response, a group of Hongkongers now living in exile have formulated the 2021 香港約 章Hong Kong Charter 2021 in the hope of finding a way to ensure the honouring of promises made to the people of Hong Kong.
Below, you can read the first part of the Charter in Chinese and English, together with some notes on vocabulary and grammar. The English reads more like a separate version rather than a translation, and you can learn a lot about how written Chinese works by pondering the differences in the two texts.
I will tackle the remaining two parts of the Charter in another post, but you can view the entire bilingual document here, together with some information on the initiators. For other help with the Chinese, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
● 以期 yíh5 kèih4 = roughly, “in the hope of”; cf. 期望 kèih4 mohng6 = hope; expectation | ● 立法機關 lahp6 faat3 gēi1 gwāan1 = legislative body | ● 惟 wàih4 = but | ● 專政本質 cf. 專政 jyūn1 jing3 = dictatorship + 本質 bún2 jāt1 = essence; nature; innate character; intrinsic quality| ● 阻撓 jó2 nàauh4 = to obstruct; to thwart; to stand in the way of | ● 主權移交 jyú2 kyùhn4 yìh4 gāau1 = transfer of sovereignty | ● 屢次 léuih5 chi3 = time & again; repeatedly | ● 兌現 deui3 yihn6 = to honour (a commitment, etc.); to fulfil; to make good | ● 暴政 bouh6 jing3 = tyranny; despotic rule | ● 赤色恐怖 chik3/chek3 sīk1 húng2 bou3 = (?) red terror | ● 數以萬計 sou3 yíh5 maahn6 gai3 = by the tens of thousands; numbering tens of thousands; cf. 計 gai3 = to number | ● 盡失jeuhn6 sāt1 = cf. 盡 = to the utmost; to the limit + 失= to lose | ● 動輒 duhng6 jip3 = easily; frequently; at every turn | ● 囚 chàuh4 = ① to imprison ② prisoner; convict | ● 逼害者 bīk1 hoih6 jé2 = cf. 迫害 bīk1 hoih6 = to persecute | ● 強加 kèuhng4 gāa1 = to impose; to force | ● 摧毀 chēui1 wái2 = to destroy; to smash; to wreck | ● 僅餘gán2 yùh4 = roughly, “(those) few remaining” | ● 名存實亡 mìhng4 chyùhn4 saht6 mòhng4 = cease to exist except in name; exist in name only
1. Ever since the Sino-British negotiations in the 1980s, the people of Hong Kong have been striving for a democratic political system, the right to elect truly representative legislators and Chief Executive. Notwithstanding, despite barring Hongkongers to determine their future, the Chinese Communist Party, with its unchanging one-party dictatorship, has been also tightening its totalitarian grip on Hong Kong. Sino-British Joint Declaration and Basic Law have been repeatedly breached by the Chinese Communist Party after the handover in 1997, and their promises of democracy and autonomy – have never been fulfilled. Hongkongers gathered in resistance to the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement in 2019. Facing more atrocious oppression than ever, tens of thousands were arrested. After the imposition of the National Security Law, Hong Kong’s freedom of speech and assembly has been exsanguinated. Numerous Hongkongers have no choice but to leave in exile, while those remaining in their city are living with the constant fear of being politically persecuted on any day. The 2021 electoral reform imposed by the Chinese Communist Party further annihilated the democratic elements in our elections, putting the last nail in the coffin for “One Country, Two Systems”.
● 倡議工作 = advocacy cf. 倡議 cheung3 yíh5 = to propose | ● 如雨後春荀 yùh4 yúh5 hauh6 chēun1 séun2 = spring up like bamboo shoots after a spring rain | ● 離散族群 lèih4 sáan2 juhk6 kwàhn4 cf. 離散 = (?) to leave & become scattered + 族群 = ethnic group | ● 盟友 màhng4 yáuh5 = ally | ● 護港抗共 wuh6 góng2 kong3 guhng6 = roughly “to protect Hong Kong and to resist the communists | ● 凝聚 yihng4 jeuih6 = ① to condense ② to crystallize | ● 社群 séh5 kwàhn4 = community; social grouping | ● 光復 gwōng1 fuhk6 = to recover (lost territory) | ● 籌謀 chàuh4 màuh4 = to devise strategies | ● 矢志 sāt1 ji3 = to pledge one’s devotion | ● 霸權 baa3 kyùhn4 = hegemony; supremacy | ● 壓逼 [ng]aat3 bīk1 = to oppress; to repress | ● 自主意志 jih6 jyú2 yi3 ji3 = cf. 自主 = act on one’s own; decide for oneself + 意志 = will | ● 威權 wāi1 kyùhn4 = authority; power | ● 擴張 kong3 jēung1 = to expand; to enlarge; to extend | ● 守護 sáu2 wuh6 = to guard; to defend
2. With unwavering courage and altruistic sacrifices, Hongkongers have placed the Hong Kong democratic movements under the international spotlight, and Hongkongers have increasingly engaged in international political advocacy. Diasporic Hongkongers will always be garnering support from global allies, to further our cause for freedom and democracy in Hong Kong and to resist the Chinese Communist Party. With the 2021 Hong Kong Charter, we shall unite the diasporic communities, to come together at the international front, for the eventual Liberation of Hong Kong. We vow to stand against the oppression from the Chinese Communist Party, to strive for freedom and democracy in Hong Kong, to continue safeguard our determination for Hong Kong’s autonomy both locally and overseas, to advocate for international collaboration in countering the Chinese Communist Party’s global aggression, and to safeguard the universal values of freedom and democracy.
離散港人信念 | The belief of the Diasporic Hongkongers
● 福祉 fūk1 jí2 = blessings | ● 善用 sihn6 yuhng6 = be good at using something | ● 發聲 faat3 sīng1/sēng1 = usu. to make a sound | ● 言論 yìhn4 leuhn6 = opinions on public affairs; expression of one’s political views | ● 團結 tyùhn4 git3 = to unite; to rally | ● 派系之爭 paai3 haih6 jī1 jāng1/jāang1 cf. = 派系 faction + 爭 = to contend | ● 泡沫化 póuh5 muht6 faa3 = (?) to turn into foam cf. 泡沫 = foam; froth | ● 角力 gok3 lihk6 = to have a trial of strength; to wrestle | ● 發揮 faat3 fāi1 = to bring into play; to give play to; to give free rein to | ● 被逼離港者 beih6 bīk1 lèih4 góng2 jé2= those who have been forced to leave Hong Kong | ● 在地 joih6 deih6 = (?) local (lit. “on the ground”) | ● 匡扶 hōng1 fùh4 = to assist | ● 同儕 tùhng4 chàaih4 = usu. “a peer” | ● 身心體魄 sān1 sām1 tái2 paak3 = ? | ● 旨在 jí2 joih6 = for the purpose of | ● 轉型 jyún2 yìhng4 = to be in transition | ● 珍重 jān1 juhng6 = to highly value; to treasure; to set great store by
Notes: The text uses some written expressions involving the co-verbs 為waih6 and 以 yíh5. Firstly, 為 . . . 着想 means “to consider (the interests of sb. or sth.)”, with the somebody or something coming after the 為: 為香港人整體福祉着想 = “to consider all that is good for the people of Hong Kong”. Secondly, 為 . . . 出發 is roughly equivalent to “to start from/proceed from”: 為香港人共同利益出發 = “to proceed from the common good of the people of Hong Kong” or even “to proceed with the common good of the Hong Kong people as our starting point”. Finally, 以 . . . 為依歸 is a similar kind of expression, and means “taking sth. as both the starting point and destination”, perhaps with the suggestion of dependence (依歸 yī1 gwāi1 can mean “to depend on”): 以港人利益為依歸 = “take the interests of the people of Hong Kong as the starting and the end point (for one’s work)”. Expressions of this kind play a big part in more formal, written Chinese and probably have their origins in Classical Chinese.
3. The diasporic communities shall put Hongkongers at the core and work for our wellbeing, for our common interests and values. Diasporic Hongkongers shall speak what cannot be spoken in Hong Kong now, utilizing the precious freedom we have, to voice out for those silenced by the rule of terror in Hong Kong.
4. The Hong Kong resistance shall be making allies and not enemies. Diasporic Hongkongers shall stand united and not fall into the trap of internal conflicts.
5. Diasporic Hongkongers shall lend our helping hands to one another, facilitating the integration of other Hong Kong exiles. Having one another’s back, with the strongest will and the greatest strength, we shall perpetuate the spirits of Hong Kong resistance, until the day we see the Liberation of Hong Kong.
6. Hongkongers’ wellbeing and values shall be the core of our political advocacy work. We strive for Hong Kong’s democratic transformation, to realize the freedom, autonomy and democracy that were promised to Hong Kong.