Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Hong Kong archbishop calls for open borders with China

The Primate of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Archbishop Paul Kwong, has lambasted politicians in his Christmas message for “promoting discrimination, xenophobia and a “Hongkonger first” attitude. Some politicians, with an eye on votes only, incite a kind of vernacularism by calling for restricting and reducing the quota of immigrants from the Mainland. Such views, which stand in opposition to family-reunion, are not in line with basic human rights and justice.”

Dear beloved fellow citizens of Hong Kong:

Peace be with you. For many people, whether Christian or not, Christmas is a season full of joy, peace and hope. Through His love, sacrifice, forgiveness and acceptance, Jesus in His Incarnation was sent to free human beings from sin and to restore their dignity and values. In Christ our Lord, all divisions and alienation between human beings break down. The rich and the poor, men and women, the youth and the elderly, all ethnic groups, people of all colours and beliefs, gather together like brothers and sisters with one heart because they are one in Christ. The Incarnation of Jesus Christ gives people the courage to overcome difficulties and to face challenges. Christ also offers new opportunities and possibilities to us.

However, such a positive and constructive spirit, and the  values it creates, have recently been confronted with and marred by speeches and behaviour promoting discrimination, xenophobia and a “Hongkonger first” attitude.  Some politicians, with an eye on votes only, incite a kind of vernacularism by calling for restricting and reducing the quota of immigrants from the Mainland.  Such views, which stand in opposition to family-reunion, are not in line with basic human rights and justice.  The claim of the mother of a missing baby that the baby was kidnapped by a woman with a “mainland accent” was hyped up by some mass media to give people the wrong impression that all criminals were from the Mainland.  The purpose of such labeling is to create conflict between Hong Kong people and brothers and sisters from the Mainland resulting in alienation and division.

At the same time, as a measure to attract media attention at public forums or on the Internet, some people like to express their views physically and with abusive language when commenting on remarks by government officials and people holding different views.  Body language does not help resolve issues, but can easily cause injuries to law enforcement officers and other people.  Curses, foul language, scolding and intimidation harm not only others’ dignity and feelings, but also downgrades the integrity and personality of the one who uses them.  Such behaviour also damages and degrades the image of Hong Kong as a civilized city.  Such vulgar and despicable ways of expressing one’s opinions are not acceptable, nor do they find approval with the majority of our citizens.

The late President of South Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela, won the praises of the whole world because of his noble personality and moral sentiments.  He lived out the spirit and values of Christmas.  He was imprisoned for more than 27 years because of his fighting for the human rights of South African Blacks and opposing the apartheid policy of the White South African government.  When he became the President, Mr. Mandela helped build a new South Africa based on mutual forgiveness, unity and social reconciliation.  He did not seek revenge against those who had persecuted him, particularly the Whites.  Instead, he loved, supported and respected them.  His virtue of repaying evil with good is respected by all peoples.  He is a great and visionary statesman and fighter for democracy, because apart from confrontation, criticism and resistance, he also knew how to build and affirm.  One mourner said it well, that in the death of Mr. Mandela, we lost not only a great man, but also a model of statesmanship.

Hong Kong is now conducting public consultation on achieving universal suffrage in 2017.  In the true spirit of Mr. Mandela, which is reconciliation, tolerance and unity, Hong Kong people should express their views in an open minded, peaceful, engaging, tolerant, pragmatic and mutually respectful manner, as we try to work out a method for selecting the next Chief Executive.  The method eventually adopted might not be ideal, but we should not be discouraged because no one system or method is perfect the first time.  All systems are improved through continuous dialogue, consultation, and through trial and error in operations.  The key to success lies in confidence, hope and the positive attitude of seeking breakthroughs.  Wall Street investor William Ackman noted that pessimists do not achieve as much as optimists do.

It is true that Hong Kong faces a number of difficulties and challenges but not hopelessness.  And we are not at the end of a road that leads to nowhere.  We still enjoy many advantages, assets, opportunities and choices.  Our biggest asset and advantage is not confined only to have a good system.  We also need a large number of Hong Kong people who have noble moral sentiments and are open minded, reconciliatory, tolerant and respectful of different peoples and beliefs.

My hope is that the peace and joy of Christmas may be planted in the lives of Hong Kong people so that we could join hands with confidence and hope to actively build Hong Kong, where many of us were born and grew up, into a place of better civilization, continuing improvements, and more opportunities and possibilities for everyone.

Finally, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  May the Lord’s blessing be with you always.

+ Paul Kwong

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