Tsoi’s re­turn to Guangzhou prompts telling re­ac­tions

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - L AU NA I-K E U N G

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.

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