As you can gather, I am Chinese, but I might not be entirely Chinese, judging by the fact that Hong Kong is desperately trying to get away from the doom of being part of China, the line between being a Chinese and a Hong Konger has never been clearer.
But that country is where I spent the first 12 years of my life, where all my childhood memories are and where all my family still lives. So deep down, no matter how twisted this country is, it is still my country.
My view on China has never been hit so hard before, it is coming here to be a journalism student that really makes me confront the truth about China.
Before 2018, I never knew what the outside world thought of China, but gradually horrific stories started to bubble up onto the surface—concentration camps, monitoring cameras all over the country, installed surveillance apps… this is not the China I grew up learning about!
Since I can remember, me and my fellow little friends were taught that this was a country to be respected. We would learn how the Communist Party fought back the National Party all the way to Taiwan and how President Mao led the whole country towards a very bright and prosperous future; we would learn how heroic our ancestors were during the eight-year war with Japan; we were taught that the country was the backbone of everything…anyways, the overarching message is “This is a great country and we all love it”. Until I left for Hong Kong.
For the first time, I learned there was something called June 4—a 1989 massacre that happened in the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, where a massive protest erupted and lots of lives were lost. That is when the ugly side of China began to reveal itself.
I gradually became aware that many things happened in my childhood were actually driven by political motives. Like all those memorial days where we would honour this or that great and mighty figure were merely infusing patriotism. And why after years, those cliché TV shows based on that war with Japan were still prevailing—turns out that is how you can make sure you pass the broadcast censoring system.
And of course, there is many more. The unspeakables in China are now all available to me. Every week, without failing, China can always make it to the headline somehow by having done something dehumanising. However, there is still a side of China that I miss very much.
Do you know how important your childhood is in terms of establishing your personality and storing some treasurable memories that you can fall back on in the future? Every fond memory I have happened in China. I miss wearing the hideous school uniform, I miss watching the annual Chinese New Year TV program with my family, I miss the feeling of being completely ignorant of what the outside world is like, but more importantly, I miss the people, the people I grew up with and am not seeing anymore.
There is one Youtube channel--Liziqi--that reminds me of the best version of China that I keep in my memories.
Every now and then, I click on one of the videos that this girl makes and I let it take me back to the times when I was still just a little girl running around in the countryside, or daydreaming about living like an ancient person with all the pretty dresses that you only see in TV. The truth is, no matter how far I go, I will always, always be attached to this country, because it is where my life started and where my dreams started.