Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Taiwan pro-unification activist from Hong Kong opposed handover in 1980s, declassified documents show

A Taiwan pro-unification activist, who moved from Hong Kong to the island, was against Communist rule and objected to Hong Kong’s handover without consent of its people, declassified documents have shown.

Last month, Chou Ching-chuen led a group of pro-unification activists at the Taoyuan airport to besiege Joshua Wong Chi-fung, secretary-general of the Demosisto party of Hong Kong, who was visiting Taiwan.

Chou, the head of the Chinese Concentric Patriotism Association, later told Beijing mouthpiece Global Times that they will beat up Hong Kong independence activists every time they come to Taiwan. The Demosisto party has never advocated independence.

Chou Ching-chuen

Chou Ching-chuen. Photo: Facebook.

But Chow Hing-chuen, which was Chou’s name in Hong Kong before he moved to Taiwan, had a very different view some 30 years ago.

“It is known to all that Communist rule is characterised by suppression that leads only to bloodshed, deprivation and dire poverty,” he said in the letter to British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in April 1984, months before the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed.

This document was declassified in 2014 and was uploaded by the Margaret Thatcher Foundation.

Signing as part of the Working Committee of the Hong Kong Self-salvation Movement, Chow said any decision on Hong Kong’s future must have the participation and consent of Hong Kong people.

“As regards the 1997 question, the only wish of the Hong Kong people is to keep the status quo of Hong Kong through continued British administration,” he wrote.

“[S]hould the British be left with no other choice but to quit Hong Kong, the administrative rights must be transferred to Hong Kong people.”

The letter was given to London through executive councillor Chung Sze-yuen. The British foreign ministry noted that Chow “clearly has links with Taiwan, but is very much his own man and not a KMT agent.”

Jeffrey Ngo, a postgraduate student of Global Histories at the New York University, told HKFP he discovered another letter at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in the US, which was not digitised and only available there.

The letter co-signed by Chow was sent to former US president Reagan in May 1984 asking for visas to petition the United Nations in New York.

“As you well know, Britain announced recently that it intends to turn Hong Kong over to China in 1997. Many of our five million citizens regard this development as a threat to their lives, liberty and property,” it read.

“At this turning point in Hong Kong’s history, we feel it is our intention, as private citizens of this territory, to ask the British Parliament to weigh carefully the hopes and fears of our people before reaching any agreement with China over the future… not only the British Parliament in London, but the United Nations in New York as well.”

Joshua Wong

Joshua Wong. Photo: Demosistō.

Joshua Wong told HKFP the findings showed documents’ value in historical research.

“When there are documents that can show the historical truth, everyone has to be responsible for all the statements and actions they have made,” Wong said.

Wong’s Demosisto, with Ngo and a group of scholars, have started a crowdfunding campaign to support efforts to look into more declassified documents and create a digital library of them.

An email to the Chinese Concentric Patriotism Association from HKFP was not answered.

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Taiwan pro-unification activist from Hong Kong opposed handover in 1980s, declassified documents show