Tsoi’s return to Guangzhou prompts telling reactions
Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, confirmed on Sunday he had received his Home Return Permit on Saturday after his application filed late last month was approved.
On the same day Tsoi received the permit, he traveled to Guangzhou. It was the first time he had set foot on mainland soil since 1993 — that was 23 years ago.
Tsoi said he stayed in a Guangzhou hotel for a night, met some friends and bought some children’s books for his daughter.
It was said that Tsoi is the first dissident barred from entering the mainland to disclose the successful renewal of his permit after Beijing made the conciliatory offer, and is the first to set foot on mainland soil after the lifting of the travel ban.
The reactions toward Tsoi’s Guangzhou trip are quite worth reviewing.
Leung Yiu-chung, another barred dissident, told the South China Morning Post, “It is good news. Beijing can at least honor its promises. But I am not going to follow suit. I do not have any need to go back to the mainland. I don’t have friends there.
“It has nothing to do with being defiant or hostile toward Beijing. But I do not see I have any need (to cross the border) in the near future, so I won’t bother to apply for the permit.”
Leung doesn’t see any need to go to the mainland in the near future. He has no friends there and is not eager to make new ones. Leung is confident that the mainland is still largely the same since his last visit a couple of decades ago, and there is nothing new worth seeing.
All he wants is for these people whom he does not know, and is not interested in, to enjoy democracy. Supposedly, the fight for democracy can be done with emails, or WhatsApp.
Dissident and former alliance leader Lee Cheuk-yan said, “It is Tsoi’s personal decision to apply for the permit and go back to the mainland. As far as I know, he did not tell alliance leaders of his plan. There is no rule in the alliance, either, requiring him to report this to the organization.”
Hail the alliance! As is well known, the alliance has all sorts of rules requiring its members to report their everyday lives to its leaders. In this instance, going back to the mainland amazingly does not fall under one of these rules — perhaps because it was not foreseen that alliance members could ever set foot on the mainland again.
A bewildered Lee is upset that Tsoi did not exercise his discretion to voluntarily notify the supreme leaders and acted as a lone wolf. The supreme leaders do not like lone wolves.
As expected, Tsoi was asked if the grant- The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.
No one seems to care about Tsoi’s impression of Guangzhou — and by extension the mainland today. How does Tsoi think about the Guangzhou people and their zest for live? How about Tsoi’s friends in Guangzhou — are they happy, contented, optimistic? After all, that’s what the regranting of permits is all about.”
ing of the permit would pull him away from his lifelong “fight for democracy” both on the mainland and in Hong Kong. Tellingly, Tsoi replied: “My commitment to the alliance is lifelong. I will not take lightly my concern for the democratic and human rights movements on the mainland.”
No one expects Tsoi to defect right after a two-day trip to Guangzhou, but Tsoi’s reply was as bad as it possibly could be. While the construction “will not take lightly my concern for” is pure diplomatic speech and lacks anything substantive, the first sentence is a dead giveaway. He was asked about his commitment to the cause, but the reflexive response that came out from him is about his loyalty to the alliance.
No one seems to care about Tsoi’s impression of Guangzhou — and by extension the mainland today. How does Tsoi think about the Guangzhou people and their zest for live? How about Tsoi’s friends in Guangzhou — are they happy, contented, optimistic? After all, that’s what the re-granting of permits is all about. Maybe we will hear more on that after Tsoi clears things up with the alliance leaders.
It is interesting to note that Tsoi bought some children’s books for his daughter. This would suggest Tsoi is relaxed about simplified Chinese characters and does not see the content as excessive brainwashing — unless the books in fact are for the alliance’s propaganda research team.