Why now? Why me?

On March 20th, Xi Jinping made a speech at the closing of the 2018 National People’s Congress. It was a nationalistic speech in which “he warned against challenges to China over Taiwan, Hong Kong or other regions where Beijing’s claims to sovereignty are contested”.

Xi Jinping

“All maneuvers and tricks to split the motherland are sure to fail,” Mr. Xi said. “Not one inch of the territory of the great motherland can be carved off from China.”

Some might say this is nothing new. China has always been sensitive about Taiwan and considers it one of its wayward provinces. Taiwan’s reunification with its “motherland” is integral to the “One China” policy. However, many people in Taiwan, my family included, have been in Taiwan for many generations and consider ourselves Taiwanese. This is a problem for China.

The dear leader claims that we are all Chinese.  Well sure, there are overlaps between Taiwanese and Chinese cultures; my ancestors came from a town near Xiamen, Fujian province in the 1700’s. Having said that, Taiwan had since been colonized by Japan and it’s populace absorbed some aspects of its language and customs into their culture. Also, our resentment towards “the motherland”, also make us uniquely Taiwanese. My point is, many people in Taiwan don’t consider themselves Chinese.  But… do we consider ourselves ethnically Chinese? That’s the tricky part. I don’t know what to think about that.

Mr. Xi’s speech spurred some anxiety with me, not only because I am Taiwanese, but also because I live in Hong Kong. In the same speech, Mr. Xi  “vowed to strengthen the national identity and patriotism of the people of Hong Kong and Macau.”

Map of South China, including Taiwan, Xiamen, and Hong Kong. Courtesy of http://www.johomaps.com/as/china/chinasouth.html

Hong Kong had been a British colony until 1997. Upon its return to China, Beijing guaranteed that the city, as a special administrative region, will have a high degree of autonomy, and China’s socialist systems will not be implemented until 2047. However, incidents such as the disappearances of Hong Kong booksellers, and the imprisonment Joshua Wong, a young activist who was one of the leaders of the umbrella revolution in 2014, are indications that civil liberties are going away fast in Hong Kong.

So yeah. Mr. Xi’s speech posed a double whammy for me. He made me uncomfortable about who I and where I am.

 

Dive-chic bars in Wan Chai

In this great city of Hong Kong, there are endless options of brunches during the weekend, great deals during happy hour, and amazing new restaurants opening all the time. However, if you want to have a nibble and a drink somewhere low-key, and at the same time, friendly to your wallet, check out the following dive-chic bars in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay:

Tai Lung Fung
Surrounded by old movie posters and vintage toys from the 60’s, walking into this dimly lit, red-hued bar is like travelling back in time. With a tasty cocktail made by one of the many lovely bar staff, you will feel nostalgic for the romantic yesteryear of old Hong Kong. It’s the perfect place to hang out with some friends over skewers and drinks.

Tai Lung Fung, 5 Hing Wan Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, p. 25720055, 灣仔慶雲街5號

Thaiwan
This up-and-coming favourite on the calmer side of Ship Street looks like a hip Taipei bar with its exposed concrete walls and a corrugated sheet metal bar painted in a brilliant red. The delightful décor displaying Taiwanese and Thai traditional ornaments reflect the quirky sensibilities of Erik, from Taiwan and Debbie, from Thailand. This husband-and-wife team along with their brother Alex, run this casual and cozy bar. They have a well-curated beer selection that you can enjoy with the best Taiwanese sausages and Thai snacks in town.

Thaiwan, Shop 3, G/F, Greatmany Centre, 31 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, p. 37096595, 灣仔船街31號智群商業中心地下3號舖

Shack Tapazaka
An exposed, black-iron clad exterior gives Shack Tapazaka a cool vibe. They have a nice selection of gins, whiskies and sake that you can sample with some edamame, grilled chicken skewers and other Japanese snacks. If you are worried about having bad breath on a date, do not panic. This bar offers mouthwash in the loo to ensure that you are always minty fresh.

Shack Tapazaka, G/F, 1-1A Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, p. 25556058, 銅鑼灣耀華街1-1A號地下

Moonshine & the Po’Boys
Illuminated by lamps made from colourful mason jars and accented by eclectic Mardis Gras beads, Moonshine & the Po’Boys is tucked away on Sun Street. Try their mouth-watering delicacies from New Orleans, such as swamp gator nuggets and shrimp & grits, and wash them down with a feisty cocktail made with bacon flavoured bourbon.

Moonshine & the Po’Boys, G/F, 4 Sun Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong,  p. 27762668, 灣仔日街4號地下

Cinta-J Restaurant & Lounge
Near the heart of Lockhart Road, Cinta-J is special like no other. The tables, booths, and the seating style is reminiscent of an American style diner. However, with kitschy paintings collected from different parts of Asia gracing its walls, the place looks a Denny’s that has gone rogue. At night, the stage lights up the whole place and their house band plays dancey tunes. In addition to their standard selection of drinks, they serve a diverse selection of delicious snacks from different parts of Asia, which is the perfect way to cap off an evening of fun.

Cinta-J Restaurant & Lounge, Shop G-4, Malaysia Bldg, 69 Jaffe Rd., Wan Chai, Hong Kong, p. 25296622 / 25294183, 灣仔謝斐道69號馬來西亞大廈地下

Wan Chai is only one of the many neighbourhoods in Hong Kong. Check out awesome places to hang out in Sheung Wan and Mong Kok.

About “In the Shadow of the Middle Kingdom”

In the recent years, China has become more economically and politically powerful. Taiwan and Hong Kong are both feeling the pressure as China, also known as the Middle Kingdom, forces the world to kowtow to the One China Policy. My blog, In the Shadow of the Middle Kingdom, explores Chinese culture in this volatile climate—there is a real possibility that Taiwan and Hong Kong as we know may not exist in the next decade, if not sooner. This uncertainty has prompted me to explore my heritage. As a third culture kid—individuals raised in cultures that are different than their parents’—I grew up in Canada and returned to Asia as an adult. Through this blog, I will share my experiences in “re-learning” Taiwanese customs and rituals in the context of current events and my personal experience as a Taiwanese Canadian living in Hong Kong.

About Me

Picture of Kayo Chang Black

Hi, my name is Kayo Chang Black.

As a third culture kid born in Japan to Taiwanese parents, I grew up in Canada and spent my adult life living in the Middle East and Hong Kong. As a result, I am fascinated with hybrid cultures, how immigrants create diaspora communities, and how they live in them.

Before my career as a writer, I was an academic librarian. I worked at universities in Canada, Dubai, Bahrain and Hong Kong. I enjoyed many aspects of my career— helping students find relevant information, building a collection to meet the needs of the university, and building creative communities on campus. I have hosted a workshop to edit Wikipedia pages of female artists and designers, and a 24-hour design challenge to create zines and artist books. I also started multiple blogs and social media accounts to promote the library’s collection and services.

However, a decade later, I decided that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in the library. Instead, I want to directly engage with people about topics that are relevant and important in our world today. To achieve this goal, I enrolled in the M.F.A program in writing at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), to sharpen my skills and expand my connections. In addition to my M.F.A education, my decade-long experience as an academic librarian in global settings equipped me with exceptional research skills. My education and background granted me a fresh and in-depth perspective on my storytelling.

My goal is to write engaging human-interest stories that are relevant in our ever-evolving global village. The working title of my current project is, In the Shadow of the Middle Kingdom: A Memoir. I am using my memoir as a way to explore Taiwanese history and my own hybrid identity.

You can find my work in Art Asia PacificHoneycombers, The Manor and The Standard (Hong Kong).