New Book Reveals 5-Year Diary Record of Hong Kong’s Last Governor

New Book Reveals 5-Year Diary Record of Hong Kong’s Last Governor
Former Hong Kong governor Lord Chris Pattern, poses with his new book “The Hong Kong Diaries” at the end of a press conference to present it, in central London, on June 20, 2022. July 1, 2022 will mark 25 years since Hong Kong was handed over to China by Britain. (Daniel Leal/AFP)

Lord Christopher Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, responded to the controversy over whether Hong Kong was once a colony at the launch of his new book on June 20. He said, “As the last Governor of Hong Kong, I do exist, and I am not a person made out of imagination.” This question followed what happened a few days ago. The media discovered that several textbooks on “Citizenship and Social Development (CSD)” submitted for review, all stated that “Hong Kong was not a colony,” which aroused heated discussions in the society. Yeung Wing Yu, a historian, pointed out that the statement, “Hong Kong is not a colony,” is one hundred percent rewriting and tampering of history.

He also mentioned that the “Basic Principles of Revision of Textbooks” formulated by the Hong Kong government as early as 1998 reminded teachers to note that China has never recognized Hong Kong as “colonial.” In other words, the requirement of “tampering with history” has existed for more than 20 years, and it was only seriously implemented when the National Security Law came into effect.

Lord Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong—known by all in Hong Kong as just Chris Patten—at the launch of his new book “The Hong Kong Diaries” talked about the statement “Hong Kong is not a colony,” as mentioned in the “Citizenship and Social Development (CSD)” textbooks. Patten pointed out that the CCP did not call Hong Kong a colony, but called it occupied territory. “It’s a bit like an own goal, you have to ask yourself who occupied it.”

He added: “I am delighted to be able to prove that, as the last governor of Hong Kong, I do exist, I am not a person made out of imagination.”

Patten recalled at the launch of his new book, that the “Sino-British Joint Declaration” was submitted to the United Nations for registration and archiving in 1985, and the “one country, two systems” principle mentioned there should have guaranteed Hong Kong’s “high degree of autonomy,” its original way of life, freedom, and the rule of law. There were no serious problems in the first 10 years after the handover of sovereignty in 1997. Unfortunately, it started to go downhill afterward.

Part of the reason, he argues, is that the CCP is afraid of the “freedom and Hong Kong’s civic consciousness” that Hong Kong represents, which is important to all. He believes that Hong Kong is a great city and hopes to see it great again.

Patten served as the last Governor of Hong Kong from 1992 to 1997.

Born in 1944, he graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, in 1965, majoring in modern history.

He joined the Conservative Party in 1966 and was first elected Member of Parliament (MP) for the Bath constituency in 1979. After the 1983 parliamentary election, he was appointed Deputy Minister of State for Northern Ireland; in 1985, he was Minister of Education and Science; in 1986, he was transferred to the Foreign Office as Minister of Overseas Development. In July 1989, Patten was promoted to the cabinet for the first time as Secretary of State for Environment.

On July 9, 1992, Patten began to serve as the 28th Governor of Hong Kong. Unlike previous Hong Kong Governors, he had no experience in China and British colonial affairs. Shortly after taking office, he introduced the “1995 political reform” plan to speed up the pace of Hong Kong’s democracy but was denounced by Lu Ping (魯平), then director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, as a “sinner through eternity (千古罪人).”

In the end, Patten’s political reform plan was passed by the Legislative Council, but the elected members of the legislative council of 1995 were stopped from fully transferring it into the post-1997 Legislative Council, because of CCP interference.

Siding With the Hongkongers

In recent years, he has repeatedly and publicly expressed his solidarity with the people of Hong Kong, in their pursuit of democracy and freedom.

For example, during the Umbrella Movement in Nov. 2014, when Patten gave a speech at the Oxford China Forum, he praised the participants in the occupation of Hong Kong, and referred to them as showing impressive dignity and seriousness. He also sent a message to Xi Jinping asking him not to let down the whole generation of Hong Kong youngsters.

In 2017, Patten visited Hong Kong, and when he gave a speech at a luncheon, he praised the leaders and young people of the Umbrella Movement as “the future of Hong Kong.” On top of that he also sent a message to Joshua Wong Chi Fung (黃之鋒), who was in prison at the time, and to the other student movement leaders who were about to be imprisoned: stick to your beliefs, remain with the Hong Kong identity, strive for democracy and the rule of law, and adhere to “one country, two systems.”

In May 2020, before the National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong took effect, Patten and nearly two hundred global politicians issued a joint statement criticizing the impact of the NSL on Hong Kong’s autonomy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms.

Later, Patten joined the British NGO “Hong Kong Watch (香港監察),” which was concerned about the human rights situation in Hong Kong, and became a patron himself. He often spoke in support of Hong Kong people’s pursuit of democracy and freedom, and in the House of Lords, where he himself is also a member, he repeatedly urged the British government to provide more support to Hong Kong people who hold BNO status.

Textbooks Say ‘Hong Kong Was Not a Colony’

A few days ago, the media discovered several textbooks of the “Citizen and Social Development” that had been submitted for review, all of which clearly stated that “Hong Kong was not a colony,” which aroused heated discussions in the society.

Since 2009, the Hong Kong government introduced ”Liberal Studies” as one subject in the secondary school curriculum.  But in recent years it has been smeared by pro-CCP groups as the culprit behind students’ participation in social movements. After the anti-extradition campaign in 2019, the government decided to reform the curriculum. Starting from 2021/22, Liberal Studies (LS) will be replaced by CSD from Secondary 4 (S4) onward. The accredited S4 and S5 textbooks will be released this year for schools to choose from for the coming 2022/23 school year.

“Ming Pao” reported in June this year (2022) that four CSD textbooks from three publishing houses that were submitted for review clearly stated that “Hong Kong was not a colony.” Some textbooks explain that although the United Kingdom governed Hong Kong in a “colonial” model, the Chinese government after the Qing Dynasty did not recognise all unequal treaties and never gave up Hong Kong’s sovereignty; another textbook stated that “China has always had Hong Kong’s sovereignty, and the United Kingdom only practised colonial rule in Hong Kong. In this regard Hong Kong was  not a British colony at all.”

On June 20, Leung Mei Fen (梁美芬), member of the Legislative Council from the Business and Professional Alliance for Hong Kong (經民聯) and a member of the Basic Law Committee, declared in the Legislative Council that “Hong Kong was not a colony before the handover” was not a new statement, because the 1972 United Nations resolution made it clear that Macau and Hong Kong had been excluded from the list of colonies.  Article 1 and the preamble of the Basic Law state that “the State resumes the exercise of sovereignty,” which had never been lost before.

In addition, Clement Woo Kin Man, member of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong ( 民建聯) and Deputy Secretary of the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, declared at the meeting that Hong Kong was not a colony before the “reunification,” criticizing the public’s misunderstanding of the fact.

The CSD textbooks even point out further that in 1972, China requested the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation to remove Hong Kong and Macao from the list of colonies, which was approved by the General Assembly by a large margin, emphasizing that Hong Kong was not a colony.

Government Websites Use Word ‘Colonial’

On June 21, 2022, Lau Yung Wai, a member of the Tai Po District Council, posted on Facebook that the introduction on the Legislative Council website on the “History of the Legislative Council” reads, “Hong Kong was a British colony from Jan. 26, 1841 to June 30, 1997. The first constitution of which was promulgated by Queen Victoria in the form of a “Hong Kong Letters Patent,” called the “Royal Charter of the Colony of Hong Kong,” and promulgated at Government House, Hong Kong on June 26, 1843.”

Our reporter found that although the current Legislative Council website has deleted the relevant pages, through the backup website “Wayback Machine,” the relevant website and the word “colonial” can still be seen.

Our reporter also checked other government websites and found that the pages on the Audit Commission website on the history of the Audit Commission still use the word “colonial,” such as “the early colonial years,” and “In 1844, Mr. A. E. Shelley was appointed as the first Director of Audit, he performed work in Hong Kong and reported to the then British Director of Auditing for Colonial Accounts.  It was only from 1867 that local government officers took over audits of the colonial accounts and the likes.

In addition, the Drainage Services Department (DSD) website on the history of the DSD also states that “When the British occupied Hong Kong Island in 1841, not only did the island have no modern buildings, but also modern infrastructure such as roads and drainage systems were almost non-existent. There are many plans to build houses in this new colony,” “The layout of the colony conceived by the Governor is very different from that of the War Department.”

Scholar: 100 Percent Tampering With History

Hans Yeung, a historian, recently posted on the “Citizens of Our Times Learning Hub (COOTL)” that after the CCP replaced the Republic of China in the United Nations in 1971, it was convenient for Hong Kong and Macau to be removed from the “United Nations list of Non-Self Governing Territories” in 1972 to ensure that the two places do not become independent. In his letter to the United Nations, the then representative of the CCP, Huang Hua (黃華), did not specify that “Hong Kong and Macao are not colonies,” but only said that “they are not colonies in the general sense.”

He made the analysis that the CCP has recognized the colonial status of both Hong Kong and Macau even in United Nations documents. After World War II, due to the rise of the decolonization movement, colonies could eventually become independent under the supervision of the United Nations.  In that respect, the CCP had always worried about whether it can finally unify with Hong Kong and Macau.

Our reporter checked the United Nations website and found a press release in May 2020 that still used the term “former British colony” to describe Hong Kong.

Hans Yeung believes that “Hong Kong was not a colony” is one hundred percent falsification of history. In 1843, one year after the signing of the Treaty of Nanking, China and Britain exchanged treaty texts in Hong Kong, and the then Governor of Hong Kong, Henry Pottinger, read the Royal Charter of the Colony of Hong Kong. That conferred Hong Kong the full name as “The Colony of Hong Kong”. Hong Kong is not only a colony, but the word “colony” is part of the official name of Hong Kong. In addition, in 1999, the Hong Kong government passed the “Adaptation of Laws Amendment Bill,” which changed the word “colonial” to “Hong Kong” in all laws in one go.

He also mentioned that the “Basic Principles of Revision of Textbooks” formulated by the Hong Kong government as early as 1998 already reminded teachers to note that China had never recognized Hong Kong as a “colony.” In other words, the requirement of “tampering with history” has existed for more than 20 years, and it is only seriously implemented today when the National Security Law came into effect.