By Jack Chan
Hong Kong History and Culture Society (HKHCS) has held the third Hong Kong History Forum and invited experts and scholars to discuss the construct of the Chinese nation and the historic significance of centralization and unification.
The forum commenced on 16 August. Due to the COVID-19 prevention and control requirements this year,the forum was held online, titling “An Ancient Legacy – The Constitution and Course of the Modern-Age Concept of the Chinese Nation”, attracted experts and scholars from home and abroad for the discussion and communication of this topic.
Dr.Michael Fung, General Director of Hong Kong Society of Humanities, who cited from Chapter “Teng Wen Gong” of Mengzi the saying “I have heard of men using the Chinese thought to change barbarians, but I have never heard of any being changed by barbarians.” Then Dr. Fung went on to talk about the constitution of Chinese centralism, before using the period of post-Qing Dynasty to delve deeply into the details of various standpoints such as Manchu Nationalism of the Revolutionaries, Great China Nationalism of the Reformists and the concept of Uniting Five Nationalities. Dr. Fung thereby held that the Chinese nation is a concept that has existed since ancient time, and he strongly opposed the views of historical nihilists.
Dr. Yau Yat, President of HKHCS stated that the Great Unification is key to the Chinese nation’s progess into the modern world.
He said, “It is the foundation on which the centralization system was fully mordenized after 70 years of exploration, trials and practice, and by its support we may seek to rejuvenate this nation.”
Serving as Academic Coordinator of Chinese and Applied History at School of Continuing and Prefessional Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr. Terry YIP started his speech from the relationship between the Great Unification and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. He opposed what Liu Zhongjing proposed as the “Theory of the Chinese cause” by refuting the idea that “all misfortunes of China stem from the ambition of seeking unity”. YIP said that “only by achieving the Great Unification can we enter the World of Ultimate Peace, and only by then will our people start to enjoy a more peaceful living condition and fulfill the aspiration of rejuvenating the Chinese nation.”
Dr. Sugeng Utomo，Assistant Professor at Chu Hai College of Higher Education, propsed that we should look into historical records, to prove the existence of the Chinese nation as well as to distinguish the Chinese and the foreign through cultural identification. He remarked that we should thoroughly explore the process of how historical nihilism was formed at all. Dr. Sugeng Utomo revealed that the biggest flaw of historical nihilism is that it has no subject. Therefore it naturally crushes into the collective awareness of the Chinese nation that was formed in the history of several thousand years. It tries to negate or even topple the outstanding traditional culture of China. It twists the history of the Chinese nation, and ultimately dissolves its own identity and the nation’s acknowledgement.
Christopher LAU, Director of HKHCS, opened his speech from the view of psychology and sociology. He illustrated the emergence and improvement of the Chinese nation’s self-awareness. By stating how the nation has strengthened and enhanced its core values, he put forward that unification is exactly the collective awareness of the Chinese nation.
Held every other year by HKHCS, Hong Kong History Forum had its first convention in 2017. Under the name “Ancient Myths – The Longevity and Depth of Hong Kong History”, it discussed the discovery of Hong Kong Archaeology and the related significance. The second convention (2019) was titled “Fusion of East and West – Fist Glance into the Historical Development of Great Bay Area” and emphasized its discussion on the research priorities and development history of universities at the Great Bay Area.
(Hong Kong correspondent for The Sydney Post)