The following is the text of a short talk I gave at a public gathering organized by HKU students on the street in Admiralty next to Hong Kong government headquarters on October 1, China's National Day.
Much thanks to Tim Li, who translated into Cantonese for me.
The same text is cross-posted on Warp, Weft and Way for comments and discussion here.
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The People in Chinese Political Thought
October 1, 2014
Admiralty, Hong Kong
Good afternoon. I speak as a professor in the Department of Philosophy at HKU and as a permanent resident of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is my home.
Many of us at HKU are deeply proud of the actions of Hong Kong’s students this week. They have peacefully expressed their political views on issues of profound importance while observing the principles of nonviolent civil disobedience.
This week’s protest is now famous all over the world for the demonstrators’ civility and considerateness. Our young people have set a wonderful example for the entire world.
We should also thank our police for their work the past three days. The violence on Sunday was deplorable. But the conduct of the police since then has been exemplary.
Today is China’s National Day. Let’s celebrate it as participants in the continuing tradition of China’s great civilisation. We are Hong Kong people, but we are also part of China, and we are proud to carry on both our wonderful regional traditions and our broader national ones.
All around us this week, we see banners and hear speeches presenting important, vital ideals from modern, international political discourse. Universal suffrage is one of these. So is open nomination of candidates by the public.
Some people may suggest that these are “Western” ideals, but let me propose that they are not specifically “Western” notions. They are “modern” ones, especially suited to the social and political conditions of the modern world. That is one reason why they appeal to people from all over the world, not only those from Western countries.