American-Born Cantonese Perceptions of Cantonese

This is just a short note of some observations, after meeting with a group of around 10-15 primarily university-aged American-born Cantonese (most of whom’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong) today.

While priding themselves in being Cantonese, however low their fluency in it may be, they themselves call Cantonese terms “slang.” Mandarin was never really mentioned in conversations as an H language to which Cantonese would be an L language; Cantonese seemed like an L language with respect to Standard Chinese (by this I am referring to the written Mandarin) that they had perhaps learned when learning to write Chinese (with spoken Cantonese or spoken Mandarin) in a formal classroom setting. I didn’t hear the term “slang” as resulting from the concept of Mandarin having considerably more social or practical value today than Cantonese as the language of mainland China, so I’m not sure if the term slang was used because they haven’t thought of a more precise term of understanding Cantonese as a vernacular or even as having many colloquial expressions (I wouldn’t expect them to have been exposed to a term like “topolect” unless they had purposefully researched Cantonese before), but it seemed like they were quite ignorant of written Cantonese.

Through some old Cantonese language textbooks, they learned and were thoroughly surprised to find that terms in spoken Cantonese that differ from their Standard Chinese counterparts indeed have written forms of their own; further, I’m not sure if they realized that these terms were not created out of thin air, but have different meanings in Standard Chinese and/or were used in older forms of Chinese but are not used in Standard Chinese. So they were clearly unaware of the process by which spoken Mandarin became the standardized form of written Chinese (although, realistically, who would be familiar with it if they had not researched it themselves?).

Though they read through the Cantonese language textbooks, they did not have much interest in reading a book like Cantonese as Written Language by Don Snow, although in part understandably so because it seems like a dense book unless or until you have developed a greater interest in Cantonese. So they were not interested in the social implications of Cantonese’s language status and the phenomenon of its developed written form, having only recently been exposed to it.

I don’t blame them for their ignorance, but it does kind of motivate me to return to actively learning about Cantonese and possibly blogging. But at the same time, I don’t know if this is the most profitable use of my time. I guess the bottom line is this: I still love Cantonese and think its development as a written vernacular is novel and super cool, but am not sure how much I should commit to learning about it.

P.S. It’s kind of odd writing in these linguistic terms again after a long time of not.


Some Articles on Cantonese

I must admit, I kind of miss blogging. I haven’t blogged for well over a year on this blog, and on any of my blogs for that matter. I haven’t kept up with Hong Kong news as much because it’s honestly kind of depressing, and over time I have realized more that I do not need to hope in the democratization of Hong Kong and/or the recognition of Cantonese as a language. Because I am a Christian, these things are not as important to me as living a life focused on my relationship with God and honoring Him.

But whenever I start reading about Cantonese (perhaps not so much when I read about Hong Kong politics because the state of it seems dismal almost all the time), I feel as if some inner desire in me is rekindled, and as if I can easily devour literature on Cantonese now as I did in the past. So here are some interesting articles on Cantonese I just found with a quick search on UPenn’s Language Log:

Spoken Hong Kong Cantonese and written Cantonese (8/2013)

A quick exit for Cantonese (7/2015)

During this academic term it seems like I’ll have more free time, which will possibly be spent reading more about Cantonese. Though I’m not studying a subject related to Cantonese in university (partly because I know that in American universities Cantonese is primarily at most offered as a language course), who knows, maybe I’ll have opportunities in the future to continue this study more, especially if I am able to study abroad in Hong Kong in the near future. Cantonese remains something that intrigues and delights me.

Michael C. Davis: “Who Will Stand Up For Hong Kong?”

Perhaps ever since I realized that Hong Kong was distinct from the rest of China in that it is not under quite the same communist grip and has an atmosphere in which Cantonese thrives, I’ve been wondering this myself. This question took on more meaning when I came to a deeper understanding of democracy and learned that Hong Kong people did not have the right to elect their leaders despite promises of universal suffrage.

This portion of Hong Kong University law professor Michael C. Davis’s op-ed in the New York Times articulates thoughts that have been on my mind recently:

Who will stand up for Hong Kong? Major international banks and accounting firms are toeing Beijing’s line, saying publicly that mass protests will disrupt the city’s economy and threaten the peace. Except for the usual expression of support for “credible” elections, Washington and other foreign governments have largely remained silent on Beijing’s latest moves.

On a side note, a few days ago, I was looking over some journal entries I wrote when I visited Hong Kong four years ago. I was surprised to realize that even though I wasn’t interested in or knowledgeable about Hong Kong politics and democracy and whatnot at the time, I was somewhat aware of political developments in Hong Kong. In 2010, there was the “起錨/Act Now” campaign about electoral reform. I found in one journal entry (June 19) a description of my mom’s conversation with a taxi driver who said my family was lucky to be able to live in the States because we have a real democracy. I wrote this about the democratic reform package: “It will create functional constituencies or something like that. Some think it will lead Hong Kong and China to real democracy; others say Hong Kong’s government will just act as China’s puppet.” Based on something watched on TV, another entry (June 23) read: “Hong Kong was promised a democratic government when it was handed back to China, but [Hong Kong people] can only vote for [Beijing-]selected men. Young people are angry about it — they’ve been fighting for it since the 1980s, and it has spread to people born in the 1980s! Right now, Hong Kong has lots of functional constituencies(?). People in their late 40s to 50s, though, don’t really seem to care — if they can do business and earn money, why should they be sad? Andrew Cheng resigned from the Democratic Party because he felt Beijing would be using Hong Kong (puppet). Donald Tsang, Albert [Ho?] can be seen as traitors or good people for accepting the Beijing plan.” I vaguely remember watching the news on July 1st, but I don’t remember whether I watched reports on the annual demonstration and understood what was going on. Aside from my poor writing style, I was surprised and discouraged to find that Hong Kong’s political situation from four years ago so much resembles that of today. It almost seems as if no progress has been made in these four years, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not hopeful about the impact social groups like Scholarism will make and are making in Hong Kong society…

Some Comments on China’s White Paper on Hong Kong

China both sickens and scares me. But not in the sense that I would suppress my speech to appease it. (All of the following quotes were taken from the People’s Republic of China state mouthpiece People’s Daily.)

The white paper said the policy enjoys growing popularity in Hong Kong, winning the wholehearted support from Hong Kong compatriots as well as people in all other parts of China. It is also thought highly by the international community.

The term “compatriot” eerily rings of communism: compatriot, comrade, communism… The phrase “wholehearted support” would explain the recent June 4th demonstration and the existence of groups like Scholarism, and the whole premise behind the recently-released documentary film, Lessons in Dissent.

The paper called for fully and accurately understanding the meaning of “one country, two systems” policy, saying that “the high degree of autonomy of HKSAR is not an inherent power, but one that comes solely from the authorization by the central leadership. The high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR is not full autonomy, nor a decentralized power.”

So China apparently has no regard for the concept of natural rights, not that that really is a new tidbit of information. And oh, the vagueness of the phrase “a high degree of autonomy.” It’s so intentionally vague, so delicately phrased so that both China and Britain could interpret it as they willed in order to allow the Sino-British Joint Declaration to smoothly come to pass as it did.

The white paper called for resolutely safeguarding the authority of the country’s Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong, adding the Hong Kong people who govern Hong Kong “should above all be patriotic.”

I guess you could say Hong Kong people are patriotic. But to whom? If the term “patriotic” could be extended to a city, or if Hong Kong could become an independent country, as some hope, Hong Kong people are considerably patriotic.

Hong Kong

(Image of 2012 protests against National Education from Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images via the New York Times)

Hong Kong people, please fight for your rights.

Mainland Tourists in Hong Kong: Playing with Numbers

I kind of laughed out loud when I saw this New York Times article. I do respect the New York Times as a reputable and fine news source, but I think in general Western media and perhaps all the English-language media I have come across tends to express comments about Hong Kong that make it seem as if they are speaking based on ignorance and/or misunderstanding. Although I do admit, sometimes, Hong Kongers’ rage-filled comments can come off as hate or xenophobia.

But this sentence from The New York Times was just unacceptable.

One thing the new tourism numbers don’t capture is that many of the visitors from mainland China are day trippers who visit Hong Kong on shopping jaunts, so while they may make up seven out of every 10 visitors, their actual imprint on the territory is probably far less substantial.

“[N]ew tourism numbers” refers to the report that mainlanders accounted for 70% of Hong Kong’s 54 million tourists last year, which would mean that about 37.8 million mainland tourists visited Hong Kong in 2013.

Making a conservative estimate going on the assumption that all of the mainlanders who visited Hong Kong last year were on day trips, some quick calculations reveal that around 37.8 million/365 days = >100,000 different mainland Chinese were in Hong Kong each day, which I believe is quite substantial – accounting for over 1% of Hong Kong’s resident population. But given that most mainland Chinese seem to come on weekends and that more than a few mainlanders spend more than a day in Hong Kong, the percentage figure is probably a few points greater. Even from the standpoint of someone who was just visiting Hong Kong two years ago for a few weeks, it is clear that mainland Chinese have a great and far from insubstantial impact on Hong Kong.

Is it so wrong to want to live in your home without being overwhelmed by the daily influx of tourists?

Alex Lo: “Democracy is not a panacea”

I hate how difficult it is for me to find the time and effort to post on this blog (even though it’s the summer!) because of things like summer school and short trips and other thoughts. But I realized that anyhow, it seems the most effective way to find things to write about is to start writing about a topic I want to write about, and somehow somewhat naturally, other topics or more thoughts about the same topic will arise. And so…something I wanted to write about a little while ago when the editorial came out, yet couldn’t find the time to write about:

Alex Lo’s Democracy is not a panacea

(side note: I have not read any of the comments to this editorial.)

Perhaps I differ from Alex Lo in that I would wish to participate in a 7/1 demonstration if given the chance and I sympathize with those who believe that Hong Kong “deserves” democracy. But having lived in the U.S. for all my life, I cannot help but find validity in his words:

Yes, fight for democracy because it embodies human values worth fighting for. But it is not a panacea and may even cause more trouble.

Without a doubt, democracy is a cause worth fighting for. I admire those who try to play a part in turning Hong Kong towards democracy by participating in protests or movements consistently or occasionally or even just as a one-time thing. But it has to be made clear that democracy is not a panacea. It is not a magical cure-all to all of one’s woes, just as communism didn’t cure or fix or amend all of the struggles of the proletariat.

I feel that Hong Kong currently stands in an elusive place between freedom and democracy, and (semi-)oppression and restriction so that democracy seems like the magical cure-all. But democracy isn’t a panacea. Americans who have known one person, one vote democracy  all their life believe they don’t have full democracy or freedom, and complain just as much as Hongkongers at times. They continue to experience poverty, wealth inequality, manipulative politics, and the personal struggles that some Hongkongers believe can be solved with one person, one vote policies.

I didn’t think much of politics or the wondrous joys of democracy until after I learned about Hong Kong and the democracy movements there. The voting rate is low in the U.S.; voting doesn’t seem like something all-so-significant that we must do in electing a leader. It doesn’t seem like such an empowering vehicle through which individuals can make life-saving and beneficial change. It’s just there. Many times, we Americans just ask, what does one vote out of so many million really do? We may talk about democracy and how so-and-so country or region’s people are justified in their fight for democracy, but we don’t think of democracy as a privilege; it’s the default.

Yet even so, I want to believe–or at least hope–that Hong Kong will be different. There are only seven million in Hong Kong (and less eligible voters due to harsh immigration laws against non-ethnic Chinese residents and the existence of an underage population). I feel that that alone makes it significantly easier to implement change, as it seems that as of now, Hongkongers want democracy for just local Hong Kong politics. But will Hongkongers’ drive remain as strong and stubborn as protestors’ recent cries and persistence? Will Hongkongers really care about democracy and believe that their individual votes count? At times believing in the strength of one vote seems foolish, but at the same time, it’s admirable in its optimism despite its foolishness.

Hong Kong people already exercise their freedom of speech more than Americans, but would they too do the same with democracy?

Hong Kong Research

Just as one would expect, the greatest research on local Hong Kong culture, language, politics, etc. is found within Hong Kong universities, more specifically, graduate and postgraduate papers written by students and professors.

While of course, reading academic literature probably sounds like a dull pastime, the specificity of the topics the papers cover can have much more appeal to a specific interest than a general and far-reaching paper might; for example, I wish to learn about Cantonese linguistics rather than linguistics as a whole. For those who might feel interested in such specific topics as I am, I have recently realized that there is a ton of such up-to-date and accessible material specifically concerning Hong Kong online.

Seven Hong Kong universities and the University of Macau provide online access to many academic paper abstracts, and sometimes even their full texts (many of them are also in English):

Hong Kong University has its own database of academic papers too:

Personally, I hope to read “A study of written Cantonese and Hong Kong culture” by Wu Fung-hoi soon and other papers regarding Hong Kong’s unique identity and Cantonese in the near future.

English/Chinese Terms Connected to Cantonese

Beginning in the 19th century and for much of the 20th century, Chinese settlers to Western countries primarily came from Guangdong province, and many of the first Westerners seeking to conduct trade with China found their base in neighboring Hong Kong. Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many early terms traded between English and Chinese (as in English terms derived from Chinese, and vice versa) were more specifically trade-offs between English and Cantonese. With the overwhelming dominance of Mandarin in characterizing “Chinese” the world today, though, it seems that the influence of Cantonese in shaping such language trade is underestimated, ignored, or unknown to most.

But there is indeed a large list that persists, and I have long wanted to draft a list of such “loanwords,” as some call them; perhaps most notable is the multitude of Chinese terms for proper nouns (cities, countries, universities, etc) that sound closer to their English counterparts when spoken in Cantonese, as compared to when spoken in Mandarin.

Ideally, this list could be updated later as I or others came up with more loanwords or whenever I have time, but here’s to start:

[Note 1: The letter “j” has a silent value using jyutping.]

[Note 2: I used the format English word: Chinese characters (Cantonese pronunciation) below.]

Cantonese to English:

bok choy: 白菜 (baak6 coi3)
chop suey: 雜碎 (zaap6 seoi3)
chow mein: 麵 (caau2 min6)
dim sum: 點心 (dim2 sam1)
kumquat: 柑橘 (gam1 gwat1)
longan: 龍眼 (lung4 ngaan5)
lychee: 荔枝 (lai6 zi1)
ketchup(?): 茄汁 (ke4*2 zap1)
wok: 鑊 (wok6)
wonton: 雲吞 (wan4 tan1)

kowtow: 叩頭 (kau3 tau4)
kung fu: 功夫 (gung1 fu1)
sampan: 舢舨 (saan1 baan2)
typhoon: 颱風 (toi4 fung1)

(*see Wikipedia for more)

Early and some existing (English) romanizations for Chinese proper nouns come from Cantonese:

Peking (as in Peking duck), Nanking (as in the Rape of Nanking), Canton, and Toisan are some that I can think of off the top of my head.

“Chiang Kai-shek” is based on the Cantonese pronunciation of “蔣介石” as “zoeng2 gaai3 sek6.” Similarly, the common Western romanization of  “Sun Yat-sen” follows the Cantonese pronunciation of one of his names, “孫逸仙,” pronounced “syun1 jat6 sin1.” With that said, I’ve been annoyed on a few occasions, hearing some refer to “Chiang Kai-shek” as not based on a (proper) Chinese pronunciation.

English to Chinese:

Some of the below Chinese terms are only used by Cantonese speakers.

[Note: In Chinese, usually, a “口” radical placed on the left of a character will indicate that the new “口”+__ character is to be pronounced as the original character is, but will only used for its pronunciation [lacking the meaning of the original character]. In the case of “咖啡,” “咖啡” follows the individual pronunciations of “加” (gaa1) and “非” (fei1) to create the sound “gaa1 fe1” based off the pronunciation of “coffee”; “加非” itself without the “口” radicals lacks much meaning. As “加” is pronounced as “jia1” in Mandarin, it is clear that the term “咖啡” used to mean “coffee” in Chinese is derived from Cantonese, or else “咖啡” would be pronounced as “jia1 fei1” in Mandarin, rather than “ka1 fei1” as it is today. The same goes for “curry.”]

coffee: 咖啡 (gaa1 fe1)
curry: 咖喱 (gaa3 lei1)
chocolate: 朱古力 (zyu1 gu2*1 lik6*1) [Because “朱古力” only sounds like “chocolate” in Cantonese, Mandarin speakers have derived a different Chinese character representation of “chocolate” that resembles the English pronunciation of “chocolate” when pronounced in Mandarin.]
cheese: 芝士 (zi1 si6*2)
salmon: 三文魚 (saam1 man4 jyu4*2)
sandwich: 三文治 (saam1 man4 zi6)
strawberry: 士多啤梨 (si6 do1 be1 lei4*2)

Proper nouns – Places:
Boston: 波士頓 (bo1 si6 deon6*2)
California: 加州 (gaa1 zau1)
Canada: 加拿大 (gaa1 naa4 daai6)
Chicago: 芝加哥 (zi1 gaa1 go1)
Las Vegas: 拉斯維加斯 (laai1 si1 wai4 gaa1 si1)
Mexico: 墨西哥 (mak6 sai1 go1)
Netherlands (based on “Holland”): 荷蘭 (ho4 laan4*1)
New York: 紐約 (nau2 joek3)
San Francisco: 三蕃市 (saam1 faan4 si5)
Rome: 羅馬 (lo4 maa5)
Seattle: 西雅圖 (sai1 ngaa5 tou4)
Singapore: 星加坡 (sing1 gaa3 bo1)
Spain: 西班牙 (sai1 baan1 ngaa4)
Sweden: 瑞典 (seoi6 din2)
Switzerland: 瑞士 (seoi6 si6*2)
Toronto: 多倫多 (do1 leon4 do1)
Vancouver: 溫哥華 (wan1 go1 waa4)
Washington: 華盛頓 (waa4 sing6 deon6)

Plus, just about every place in Hong Kong’s romanized name is based on its Cantonese pronunciation (although some old names are from derived from other dialects like Hakka). Streets named after British persons similarly are represented in Chinese by combining Chinese characters based on their pronunciations in Cantonese.

Harvard: 哈佛 (haa1 fat6)
Stanford: 斯坦福 (si1 taan2 fuk1)
Yale: 耶魯 (je4 lou5)

bus: 巴士 (baa1 si6*2)
partner: 拍檔 (paak3 dong3)
taxi: 的士 (dik1 si6*2)

Cantonese on Android, Apple, and Microsoft Products

I find it interesting that even though we tend to deny Cantonese the same (if any) prestige that we give Mandarin in the world by not teaching it in schools or universities, calling it a “dialect,” and overall advocating the more “proper” use of Mandarin for economic upward mobility and business, quite prominent companies include Cantonese language features to attract consumers, perhaps indicative of the lucrativeness of the Cantonese-speaking market that predominantly resides in Hong Kong.

For one, Android products include Google voice typing using Cantonese, specifically labeled “粵語 (香港),” alongside Mandarin features for China and Taiwan. And while I don’t think Android includes a Cantonese language keyboard feature, one can use the free HKIME application to type using Cantonese romanization (I’m not sure if it’s Jyutping – it’s called “Canton Pinyin” on the keyboard), Cangjie, stroke, among others. There’s another application, Cantonese keyboard, that some reviews say works better, but I have yet to try it.

Meanwhile, while Apple [mobile] products evidently do not support outside keyboards, they include a “Chinese (Cantonese)” setting for Voice Control (on older products). Best of all, recent products include Siri in Cantonese. I personally feel that the inclusion of Cantonese in Siri language options demonstrates the influence/strength of the Cantonese language community (in terms of business interests): the languages Siri supports are English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese. For Cantonese to make this small group of perhaps the top nine languages spoken by the most potentially economically lucrative consumers seems a bit ironic considering that Cantonese is commonly considered a mere “dialect” in the eyes of the world. Additionally, Cantonese is listed by Apple as the language for Hong Kong with no mention of China; in one sense, it might be too repulsive for China to recognize Cantonese as a language, but in another, this goes to show recognition of the financial success of, and thus, large consumer market based in Hong Kong.

Finally, just recently, I realized that Microsoft has supported Cantonese for a few years now in more recent updates. Apparently, Windows 7 supports Cantonese Jyutping input, and even those with older versions of Windows can download a package that supports Cantonese Jyutping input (I just did). It’s called “Microsoft Office IME 2010,” but apparently it can work on Windows in general even for those who don’t have Microsoft Office; the Cantonese option is contained in the InputMethodEditor x86 zh-tw.exe or InputMethodEditor x64 zh-tw.exe file (according to if you have the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows).

Previously, the Hong Kong Supplementary Character Set provided by the Hong Kong government could be downloaded to allow use of unique Cantonese characters in conjunction with the standard Mandarin/written Chinese set, but I believe this is not necessary now. Although a bit confusing, the Cantonese Jyutping option is called “Hong Kong Cantonese 2010” and is listed as a keyboard under “Chinese (Taiwan),” rather than “Chinese (Hong Kong S.A.R.).” This may make it easier for those who may wish to switch back and forth between Cangjie and Jyutping or Jyutping and Pinyin.

Interestingly enough, it feels a bit unnatural typing using Cantonese romanization after previously having to use Mandarin romanization or the IME pad or my limited Cangjie to type Chinese; it’s also a bit confusing grouping Cantonese sounds with the “standardized” Jyutping consonant and vowel values. I still feel that “y” should go in place of the silent “j” and it’s overall a bit awkward typing “ngo” for “我” and “m” for “唔.”

Overall, I find it intriguing that such prominent companies treat Cantonese as a language in providing native language options in their products for people of different regions or cities; while this can be attributed to Hong Kong’s international city status, it is quite significant that there is such financial incentive for a “language” rarely considered a language in everyday life (by non-Cantonese speakers and some Cantonese speakers alike) to have its own voice and keyboard options. This further highlights the often under-emphasized differences between Cantonese and Mandarin (and other “dialects”), and that Cantonese is largely not considered a language for political reasons.

I knew there were voice options on Android and Apple products, but the addition of a Cantonese keyboard put out by Microsoft portrays Cantonese as a true standardized language with even a correct written form, even as I hear colloquial Cantonese often times called “slang” (perhaps arising from the lack of wide recognition of Cantonese in official or “proper” use). With the recognition of Cantonese by companies and their manufactured electronic products like this, I cannot help but hold onto my sliver of hope for the future of Cantonese.


*If anyone encounters any issues in downloading any files, Pinyin Joe provides some help. Below are some instructions and information on downloading the Microsoft Office IME 2010 file:

In general, if trying to add the Cantonese keyboard, I think you just need to go to language settings and look up keyboards to add after clicking “Chinese (Taiwan)” (although you need the East Asian Language pack first: see Pinyin Joe if you need help).

Hong Kong Autonomy Movement

(Image taken from

I’m not sure how I came across this, but often times on the Internet, one website or video provides a link or reference to another, and as I try to learn more about Hong Kong, I came across the Hong Kong Autonomy Movement. The Hong Kong Autonomy Movement, I believe, is known for its members who wave the British Hong Kong colonial flag of old at protests and on a variety of occasions to express resistance to the Chinese Communist Party. They are those who are denounced by Chinese officials for longing to return to “mistreatment” under the British and demonstrating a lack of gratefulness towards the so-called motherland that provides for Hong Kong’s needs.

But upon reading the little English content published on its blog, I realize that its ideas and actions are not as repulsive or threatening as the Chinese Communist Party perceives it to be; it lists its objectives on its blog as:

  • Universal Suffrage

  • A Hong Kong Government which makes policies for the needs and interests of Hong Kong people

  • Long term housing and land policies to ensure the quality of life of Hong Kong people

  • To reinvigorate the local industries and agriculture

  • To reformulate immigration policy; to regain full authority in approving immigrants from Mainland China

  • To review the constitutional framework under the Basic Law

  • To defend the city-state of Hong Kong, and to reject ‘mainlandisation’ policies such as the “Action Plan for the Bay Area of the Pearl River Estuary” and the brainwashing of our children in the name of “Moral and National Education”

  • To establish local language policies and to protect the Hong Kong culture

  • To review Hong Kong’s currency standard and monetary policies to strengthen Hong Kong’s financial autonomy

Its name is quite self-explanatory: HKAM, as it is abbreviated, desires not so much independence, but Hong Kong’s due freedoms and autonomy, and a government that truly seeks Hong Kong’s interests first.
HKAM is largely made up of young, idealistic Hong Kongers, as many local Hong Kong movements advocating universal suffrage or protection of Hong Kong’s unique culture are; I believe it largely organizes on Facebook. Something I find interesting about it is its explanation for its use of the colonial emblem:
A Cultural Reinterpretation of the Dragon-Lion Emblem of Hong Kong

The Emblem of the Hong Kong City-State Autonomy Movement symbolizes protection through the combination of the dragon and the lion, that is, the distillation and blending of the best parts of the Chinese and British traditions. The Hong Kong flag of the Chinese dragon and the British lion embodies the spirit of merging Chinese and British cultures, honours the history of Hong Kong, and guards the city-state of Hong Kong. This flag inherits the Hong Kong Ensign under British rule. With the newly added Chinese characters, 香港 (Hong Kong), and the white background changed to the free and noble blue, it symbolizes Hong Kong people keeping their foothold in Hong Kong, sustaining themselves, and autonomously ruling themselves.

The dragon rides on the heavens and the lion strides across the earth. The merging of the lion and dragon means the dragon walking on earth and the lion soaring to the sky. In the face of the Communist Chinese wolf, the people of Hong Kong are not lambs but the vigorous offspring of the Chinese dragon and British lion. Just like a lion mounting the clouds and a tiger with wings, we cannot be put on the same par as the wolf and we will not be in the same room with it.

The Coat of Arms of Hong Kong was designed by the British College of Arms, and it represented Hong Kong between 1959 and 1997. Elegant and noble, upright and balanced, this flag has been familiar to the people of Hong Kong, and it contains Hong Kong’s culture and history. According to The Book of Songs, “Although Zhou is an old state, its mission is to reform and to renew.” The Hong Kong Autonomy Movement reinterprets this flag as follows:

The dragon belongs to the Chinese tradition, symbolizing viability and flexibility; Hong Kong is the repository and guardian of Chinese culture. The lion belongs to the British tradition, symbolizing justice and bravery. Hong Kong is the inheritor and promoter of British culture. The people of Hong Kong are the offspring of the dragon and the lion, the hybrid child of Chinese and British cultures. The shield jointly guarded and supported by the dragon and the lion standing on the territory of Hong Kong symbolizes Hong Kong’s state of being civilized and cultured. The tower above the shield symbolizes the city-state of Hong Kong; the crown on top of the tower symbolizes Hong Kong’s inheriting the full cultural traditions and making herself a king. The junks on the sea stand for Hong Kong’s history as a trading port as well as the adventurous sea-faring spirit. The crown worn by the big lion symbolizes the fact that Hong Kong was once ruled by the British monarch; the small lion holding the dragon pearl symbolizes the ruler of the city-state of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Autonomy Movement preserves the crown for two reasons:- Firstly, to inherit noble spirit, secondly, to make Hong Kong a king forming a constitutional, republican and democratic government and ruling with benevolence and righteousness.

Note: As Hong Kong lacked discussions about city-state autonomy before 1997, no spiritual signs or heraldries have been left, and up till now, a common symbol for Hong Kong is not available. Our adoption of the dragon-lion flag aims at impelling and inspiring the people of Hong Kong by means of a familiar sign. Moreover, as the significance of the original flag has seldom been explored by the people of Hong Kong, it is susceptible to a brand new interpretation. Certain left-wing participants in local resistance movements may find it hard to tolerate our borrowing the cultural sign of the British colony, and may insist on decolonizing Hong Kong and bringing Hong Kong citizens back to the chainless primal state before resisting the tyranny of the local government and of the CCP. We think that this is impracticable. First of all, we cannot possibly return to the primal state. This kind of attempt at decolonization is doomed to fail and thus tolerable to the CCP. In addition, in order to deal with tyranny and struggle with the new colonizer, we must have resources, even resources given to us by the former colonizer. Without weapons, especially a familiar one, one is unable to fight.

Using my meager Chinese literacy, I have surmised that HKAM finds much inspiration in professor Chin Wan’s (陳雲) Hong Kong as a City-State (香港城邦論). Below, I’ve listed the English content I found on HKAM’s blog thus far: (This was the post I block-quoted from.) (This seems like a modification of the interpretation of the flag I posted above.)
But if you were to ask me which post I linked to read if you only had time to read one, I would tell you to read this one, posted by what I believe to be of an external organization/person:
I feel that this above link does a good job of helping me sort out my thoughts about HKAM and Hong Kongers’ demonstrations of resistance to the Chinese Communist Party in general; at times it seems that there is little insight or analysis on Hong Kong written in English.