Tag Archives: Hong Kong

Mammon Sniffs in Hong Kong at the Lands Resumption Ordinance

Hong Kong is infamous for its lack of housing, its expensive real estate, its subdivided flats in which people are packed like sardines. Everyone is compelled to agree, at least with his lips, that this is one of Hong Kong’s pressing problems.

SCMP reports on a proposal to use the Lands Resumption Ordinance to gain land on which to build public housing: ‘Hong Kong developers are estimated to own a huge land bank of 1,000 hectares of abandoned farmland. If the government seizes 150 hectares of usable land, it would [sic] be able to build 170,000 public homes within 10 years.’ I would ask how private developers came to own – or hold, anyway – so much abandoned farmland. If it was by occupying or claiming what others had vacated, in the fashion of squatters, then such developers should have no complaints about squatters coming onto their land and living there rent-free; but even if it was by buying land from farmers who could no longer use the land in profitable ways that could sustain their families, surely it is not only legally valid but also morally sound to compel developers to sell this same land to the state for a crucial public interest, namely the interest of providing 170,000 public homes in a city where average wait times for public housing have grown to ‘5.4 years, up from 2.7 years in 2012’.

Raising the spectre of ‘socialism’ and speaking of seizures without acknowledging that developers would be justly compensated is a scare tactic, not an honest concern. In America, except among radical œconomic liberals, the state’s right of eminent domain has been disputed mostly when the interest in which land is seized is arguably not public (e.g. Kelo v. City of New London); in Taiwan, where the vast majority of the land was once held by 20 families, Chiang Kai-shek forced landlords to sell their land to their tenants in exchange for shares in new light industries, and thus paved the way for a prosperous Taiwan. Allodial title to land belongs to the state because the land belongs to the people. In Hong Kong itself, SCMP says, ‘From 1997 to 2017, the government used the [Lands Resumption Ordinance] 154 times, including 13 times for building public housing. There were eight judicial reviews but none was successful.’ That someone has cried ‘socialism’, and appealed to the Basic Law in support of a hypercapitalism that gained wide currency only by the fall of the Soviet Union, is no reason to sympathize with private land-developers against the needs of the many in Hong Kong who are still waiting for public housing.

In Hong Kong are many, rich and powerful, who do not want to lose what they have. Whether developers who keep farmland idle to make a killing or speculators who buy up flats and keep them vacant to make profits from sales later on, they are the kind of people of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke: ‘Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!’

The judgement of God comes,
 But the wicked erect excuses;
The living God will judge,
 And as nothing are they swept away;
Like sticks in the torrent of his righteousness
 Or ashes of a forest fire,
When the Lord in his anger appears,
 To purge the earth by his grace,
Their bones are broken like matchsticks,
 And like wax melt their joints,
Before the coming of the Word,
 The judgement of the Holy One.

Hong Kong Book of Common Prayer: No Churching of Women

P23_The churching of women_NEW-1-

One thing that surprises me about Hong Kong’s Book of Common Prayer, though I did not notice earlier, is that it does not provide for the Thanksgiving of Women After Childbirth, commonly called the Churching of Women. For a society in which postpartum confinement is still a common practice more than fifty years after this BCP was first printed, I think it a notable omission. I am led to wonder why this Prayer Book’s compilers chose not to include a Christian ritual for something that even today remains very much a part of Chinese culture.

Arrived: Hong Kong Book of Common Prayer

I have recently taken a look at Hong Kong’s Book of Common Prayer, first printed in 1959 by the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui’s Diocese of Hong Kong and Macau and reïssued in 1998, with no textual changes to the services, by the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui. This BCP looks fascinating, and I hope to share some of its distinctive features here.

For one thing, the order of Holy Communion, while clearly in the classical Prayer Book tradition, does not match the English (1662), Scottish (1764, 1912, 1929), or American (1789, 1892, 1928) types; likewise the orders of daily Morning and Evening Prayer. In general, the regular services seem to stand somewhat between the English and American types, with a few characteristics seen in neither.

Compline, often included in books of additional services but not part of either the English BCP (1662) or the American (1928), has made its way into the Hong Kong BCP.

The greatest difference, perhaps, is in the occasional prayers: to the English BCP’s 19 and the American BCP’s much richer 47, the Hong Kong BCP has 87. This great cloud of prayers and thanksgivings is organized by its own table of contents.

As expected in a society that is by and large not Christian, baptisms of such as are of riper years take priority over baptisms of infants, a priority reflected by the former’s appearing before the latter. Similarly, between the Catechism and order of Confirmation appears a section acquainting the reader with the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui’s mission, history, and practices.


The Athanasian Creed, also known in the West as Quicunque vult, is given the alternate name of Sacred Text of Salvation. A rubric also declares, ‘To this Sacred Text of Salvation ought every believer to attend: some of the principles it expresses are very deep, but are in no wise contrary to Scripture.’ A second rubric says that this sacred text may be used at Morning Prayer on all the holy days listed in the English BCP – except, very curiously, Trinity Sunday itself. The days listed in the Hong Kong BCP, then, are the following: Christmas-Day, the Epiphany, Saint Matthias, Easter-Day, Ascension-Day, Whit-Sunday, Saint John Baptist, Saint James, Saint Bartholomew, Saint Matthew, Saint Simon and Saint Jude, and Saint Andrew. The text is kept whole and undefiled: ‘Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he keep the principle of the Holy Catholic Church. Which faith whosoever keep not wholly, or keep not straightly, must suffer everlastingly the bitterness of sinking unto perdition.’

The Psalter is not included (the expectation being that the psalms will be read from the Bible), but there is a table of proper psalms for many days in the year. Similarly, there is a table of proper lessons. There seems, however, not to be a daily ordering of psalms or a daily kalendar of lessons.

God willing, I shall post more details later, when I have the time.

South China Morning Post to Become Pro-CCP Propaganda

Spectators in front of a large sign on Nixon’s motorcade route in China.

Mainland Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, reports the New York Times, is buying Hong Kong’s respected South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Alibaba is acquiring an award-winning newspaper that for decades has reported aggressively on subjects that China’s state-run media outlets are forbidden to cover, like political scandals and human-rights cases. Alibaba said the deal was fueled by a desire to improve China’s image and offer an alternative to what it calls the biased lens of Western news outlets. While Alibaba said the Chinese government had no role in its deal to buy the Hong Kong newspaper, the company’s position aligns closely with that of the Communist Party, which has grown increasingly critical of the way Western news organizations cover China.

I agree that WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) nations have pretty biased mainstream media, which is why I also read RT with its pro-Putin bias; but the way to confront the false propaganda of the WEIRD media, with their often duplicitous talk of ‘human rights’, is not to add false propaganda supporting the CCP and ‘China stronk’ (強國). Because of money, the SCMP is already under pressure from the HK-China oligarchic establishment, but this development just seals the deal.

The Law of Liberty

For it is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Hong Kong, proud on the sea,
Thy freedom’s not thine own
To keep as treasure hid for thee,
But given to be known.

Behold, thy fate is bound
With that of China’s shores;
Thy spirit’s future will be found
In him who’s at thy doors.

The God who waiting stands
Will send believers out
Through doors that, faced with bright demands
For freedom, shut with doubt.

That way was closed to peace,
To those with earnest plea;
But let these doubtful strivings cease
When Love shall set us free.

See if there be a King
Like unto him who’s born,
To whom unknowing nations bring
Their tribute in the morn.

Beyond our highest sight,
Of brightest heaven’s birth,
The God of God and Light of Light
Descended to the earth.

The rulers crucified
His flesh in treason’s name,
Who slew the King none could abide;
Dying, he bore our blame.

But all the tyrants’ will
Could not his flesh corrupt,
Nor martyrs’ flesh for ever kill:
Their vain schemes he’ll disrupt.

Today all hear his voice:
Let none harden their hearts
Against the Lord, but all rejoice
That darkness soon departs.

He conquers spirits now
With dreadful word of pow’r,
And peoples at his feet will bow
Today and at th’ last hour.

Come, rulers of the earth,
And lay your golden wreaths
Upon the Child of virgin birth,
Your iron into sheaths.

Hong Kong Decolonialized

The post below is not geopolitically sound in the slightest. Britain is a vassal of the globalist oligarchs who rule America. I have learned a lot since 2014, and I cannot bring myself to agree with the political evaluation I articulated at the height of the Umbrella Movement protests in Hong Kong.

Those who know me often find out quickly that I am an Anglophile and that I support (for all its faults) the idea of a coherent British Empire. From that point, especially when I express my wish that Hong Kong were still a British colony today, it is easy to extrapolate that I think Hong Kong should have remained a British colony in perpetuum.

Convention of Peking (1860).

Convention of Peking (1860).

But, though I often feel the need to correct people’s impressions about the terms of the unequal treaties concluded between the Qing Empire and the British Empire, such an inference about my ideals and sentiments is inaccurate. Indeed, I believe such a disposal of Hong Kong would run against important facts of both practicality and justice.

I do believe British rule has done Hong Kong much good. To romanticize those ‘good old days’, I know, would be both naïve and irresponsible, but God really did bring good out of the evil of the Opium War. In Hong Kong he has brought to the Chinese people a mature rule of law that the rest of China does not have. While even Taiwan was under martial law for decades after the Second World War, Hong Kong prospered in relative peace and openness. After 4 June 1989, Hong Kong was the safe destination to which Operation Yellowbird (黃雀行動) moved Tiān’ānmén Square dissidents. The destinies of Hong Kong and China are bound together, and the Lord has graciously seen fit to use Hong Kong as a special place for the good of China.

Nevertheless, in my judgement, it was wrong for Britain to have colonized Hong Kong in the first place, and at the end of the Second World War it was wrong for the United States to have backed Britain’s determination to be the power receiving Japanese surrender in Hong Kong despite the city’s being part of Chiang Kai-shek’s operational control zone. We must be frank about the Western powers’ dishonourable acts, and I must say honestly that the only motivation I can see for Britain’s insistence on being the power to accept Japan’s surrender in Hong Kong was greed and unwillingness to let Hong Kong go.

Given these considerations on both sides, I can state what I think the ideal for Hong Kong. I speak not as a native but as an American who has harboured bonds of affection for a city I have never lived in, yet always thought of as the home of my heart, a place to speak of ‘returning’ to, and never a foreign place.

My view of the ideal is most certainly not for Hong Kong to have remained a colony of anyone. For the dignity of the place and its people, it was not fitting that it should stay in the jurisdiction of a foreign Parliament elected by foreigners, with no legislative representation of Hong Kong’s own interests. If Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are by rights independent of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, how much more the Pearl of the Orient? And yet, equally, despite its national kinship with China, how is Hong Kong rightfully subjugated by people who neither speak its languages nor have sympathy for its customs and its legal institutions? Hong Kong’s part in the Chinese nation is a sic et non. To keep it entirely apart from China would be untrue to what its people have always felt, because many of its people have felt the stirrings of Chinese nationalism; and yet to subsume it entirely into the rivers and mountains of China would be to rewrite history. The place is peculiar; its identity is not easily untangled.

Œconomically, of course, Hong Kong has its own currency and its own stock exchange. Having its œconomic policy determined by outsiders, even very sympathetic outsiders, could not be in its interest; nor would the city tolerate such interference. Even though Hong Kong has been free of tariffs, only a long period of gradual integration, potentially centuries long, could ever change this need for autonomy.

To put it crudely, I would say Hong Kong would best be an independent free city, ruled neither by Britain nor by China, but intimate with both; but such terms are inadequate. Hong Kong’s identity, though difficult to define, is more coherent than that of Singapore. Nevertheless, there are problems unique to city-states with not much hinterland to speak of. Given the relative size of such states, their œconomies and defence are always dependent on unequal relationships with larger powers. Though every state has to be responsible for its own defence, there is no way a state as small as San Marino can stand without a significantly larger Italy. This principle is without exception, that very small states live by the power of imperial forces larger than themselves. For Andorra, these powers are France and Spain; for Singapore, the United States and (increasingly, it seems) red China. For Hong Kong, naturally, the balance must include China – some China, whether based in Nanking, Taipei, or Peking – and the most natural second force would be Britain.

The best that can be desired, I think, supposes a free and Christian China. Such a China would differ from Hong Kong in its laws and currency but have a common defensive interest and a common respect for the rule of law. The churches of Hong Kong would be part of Chinese denominations because the Christian faith would be not only tolerated but given every opportunity to influence public institutions and provide the Chinese nation with ethical guidance. Naturally, over time, the laws of Hong Kong would converge in some areas with the laws of China. A certain degree of integration could develop that would not be desirable with the China of today, even as Hong Kong maintained its independence.

The chief executive, serving as head of government, would continue to be elected by a committee, but one that was much more broadly representative than today and included a large number of delegates elected by universal suffrage of citizens aged 18 years and older. To maintain a balance between attachment to China and distinction from China, there would be two heads of state to oversee foreign affairs, grant pardons and other acts of clemency, and open and dissolve sessions of the Legislative Council: the Chinese head of state and the monarch at the head of the Commonwealth of Nations. Thus the city’s independence in internal affairs could be assured by local votes – and, importantly, its currency could be pegged to the American dollar, the British pound sterling, or anything else – but its international dependence on larger powers would also be acknowledged in the form of its diarchy.

Such is the arrangement that, however odd, I find the most natural for such a unique city as Hong Kong. No doubt among many people it would meet with disapproval, but I mean to suggest that it might best conduce to the honour and prosperity of the city’s people.

Benedict and the Development of Hong Kong

Last week, about Hong Kong, Chandran Nair urged readers to look at the big picture and acknowledge that solutions to the city’s problems lay far beyond the choice to become more democratic or less. Even as a strong supporter of the Occupiers’ goals for full ‘universal suffrage’, and even with their general method (in view of the government’s failure to listen to anyone but the National People’s Congress), I agree with Mr Nair. I believe Hong Kong does need the rule of law protected, but I know the rule of law can only maintain the conditions the people need to create and hold viable jobs. To think about one and neglect the other would be foolish and short sighted.

As Mr Nair says, Hong Kong needs to adapt to changes in the world and reform its œconomy:

At present, the reality is that Hong Kong’s economy has only two main pillars – the property sector and financial services. Most of the other elements that once existed, such as agriculture, light industry or textiles, have been hollowed out. This is not a healthy or sustainable situation. The financial sector alone cannot offer job opportunities to everyone, especially in an economy where most positions are open to global competition.

And an economy based on property speculation will inevitably result in the housing crisis Hong Kong currently faces. With property prices pushing decent accommodation out of the hands of most, and astronomical rents pushing up the prices of everything else, there is a real question of whether the next generation will be able to afford to live in the city of their birth.

Hong Kong has a population of 7 million, greater than that of Scotland. It is clear that the finance and property sectors cannot bear the weight of the livelihoods of 7 million persons living in the same city. When these sectors are expected and compelled to do so, the system cannot avoid gross injustices and gross distortion of humanity. Such a population as Hong Kong’s is a great number of mouths to feed, but also a great number of hands to help. Even in the Occupy movement of the past three weeks, the world has seen what Hong Kongers are capable of. I am sure that, given the freedom, Hong Kongers can also figure out what they need to live again.

But there is the rub. Hong Kong not only is denied the freedom of constitutional liberalism, but even under the power of a communist régime it also is wedded to the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The same class interests that profit at the people’s expense are the same that join with the Chinese Communist Party to strangle the people’s freedoms, freedoms they enjoyed when Hong Kong was a liberal autocracy and not the illiberal democracy it is becoming today. The gods who rule Hong Kong are its haute bourgeoisie, and so it is bound to finance and speculation. The problem is œconomic, but the œconomic problem is spiritual.

A city whose god is the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not in bondage to cruel Mammon. If Hong Kong is bound by gods who keep it from finding and taking a better way, a just way, then it needs what Thomas Chalmers called the expulsive power of a new affection:

There are two ways in which a practical moralist may attempt to displace from the human heart its love of the world – either by a demonstration of the world’s vanity, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon simply to withdraw its regards from an object that is not worthy of it; or by setting forth another object, even God, as more worthy of its attachment. Love may be regarded in two different conditions. The first is, when its object is at a distance, and then it becomes love in a state of desire. The second is, when its object is in possession, and then it becomes love in a state of indulgence. Such is the grasping tendency of the human heart that it must have a something to lay hold of – and which, if wrested away without the substitution of another something in its place, would leave a void as painful to the mind as hunger is to the natural system. It may be dispossessed of one object, or of any, but it cannot be desolated of all.

Perhaps the world’s vanity has already been shown by the tyranny of the gods who lord it over Hong Kong, but that is not enough:

You have all heard that Nature abhors a vacuum. Such at least is the nature of the heart, that though the room which is in it may change one inmate for another, it cannot be left void without the pain of most intolerable suffering. It is not enough then to argue the folly of an existing affection. It is not enough, in the terms of a forcible or an affecting demonstration, to make good the evanescence of its object. It may not even be enough to associate the threats and the terrors of some coming vengeance, with the indulgence of it. The heart may still resist the every application, by obedience to which, it would finally be conducted to a state so much at war with all its appetites as that of downright inanition. So to tear away an affection from the heart, as to leave it bare of all its regards and of all its preferences, were a hard and hopeless undertaking – and it would appear, as if the alone powerful engine of dispossession were to bring the mastery of another affection to bear upon it.

What is wanting in the city is God. Only if it has this loving God will it be free of its former gods. Only if it is baptized through the parting of the Sea will it be free of the house of bondage. Only if it is shown the beauty of the holy God will it be free of tyrannous power.

The way that the Lord has appointed is the witness of the Church. Already, we know, the Occupy movement has prominently included leaders who know the Lord: Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) of Scholarism is a Christian, as are Benny Tai (戴耀廷) and the Rev. Chu Yiu-ming (朱耀明) of Occupy Central with Love and Peace; Joseph Cardinal Zen (陳日君) has also been involved. But Hong Kong needs a longer-term witness to show what obedience to the Lord is like.

As highlighted by Jake Meador last month in relation to what some people in the Church are calling the Benedict Option, one way in which the Church has borne witness about the God who is there has been the L’Abri ministry.

A student’s typical day at L’Abri is spent working around the property, sharing meals with the other students and workers, discussing topics of interest with workers and students, and taking time for quiet reading and reflection on one’s own. Noticeably absent from the routine is internet access, TV, or extensive involvement in the surrounding community outside of L’Abri. During my time as a student there, I didn’t check email or read anything online for the duration of my stay.

Yet what makes L’Abri so interesting as a model for the Benedict Option is its openness, a value not inimical to the Benedict approach but one certainly not often discussed by its proponents. L’Abri is a place where literally anyone can come and join the life of the community. During my time there I roomed with one student who was a fairly convinced evangelical and four or five other men who didn’t really know what they thought of Christianity, but were there because they were curious. The women there were similarly diverse – young Christian women from home-schooling families with close L’Abri ties to a singer-songwriter from Amsterdam (who was Christian) to a ballet dancer from the upper midwest who, at the time, was not Christian. My roommate and the guy I was probably closest to during my term now describes himself – last I heard anyway – as a ‘Lockean realist’.

What sustains the life at L’Abri then is not that the community is closed or that it has many gatekeepers that ensure only a select group of people can enter into it. L’Abri tends to be rather allergic to such things. (The Benedict Option doesn’t require such an approach, of course, but one can detect a certain exclusivity in the language used to describe it by some.) Rather, it’s the quiet confidence embodied by the leadership in the goodness of the Christian way of life and their desire to invite others into that way, regardless of whether or not they actually believe in the claims of Christianity. The effect, as I mentioned the other day, is that non-Christian students experience the fruits of Christianity while they wrestle with the claims of Christianity.

There are L’Abri communities in Korea and Australia, but I think Hong Kong and the rest of China would benefit from a new one established in Hong Kong. The hospitality essential to L’Abri, rather than cloistering anyone, could support the existing witness of churches all over Hong Kong. Such a community in the city could also find new ways to work and contribute to the larger œconomy, just as the monasteries of Europe copied books, taught people, and developed cheeses, wines, and ales: I imagine that, as China develops œconomically, Hong Kongers will have the opportunity to contribute to œconomic growth, and Christians can lead the way with work in GIS, architecture, and sustainable agriculture. In many ways, both by living good lives in the presence of enquirers and by contributing directly to the Chinese œconomy, a L’Abri community and Christians setting up shop nearby could help Hong Kong grow in a godly way.