China only wants Hong Kong to be a cultural dwarf

The followings are analyses of why HKTV is denied a free-to-air broadcasting license in terms of culture and language politics.

Hongkonger’s Hong Kong TV Station


“The Birth of a Hongkonger’s TV Station”

The CEO of HKGolden, Joe Lam, wrote his thought on HKTV after joining the naming ceremony and programme premier of the station.

The Birth of a Hongkonger’s TV Station
Last night, I joined City Telecom’s “The Birth of a TV Station — Naming Ceremony and Programme Premier”. The station is named as “Hong Kong Television”, a TV station that serves Hongkongers. Serving Hongkonger? It sounds a bit weird. However, think deeply, more and more local service industries don’t serve Hongkongers anymore. For instance, which shops on Canton Road serve us? Many TV dramas and movies target China and overseas markets primarily….

China only wants Hong Kong to be a cultural dwarf

Excerpt of “China only wants Hong Kong to be a cultural dwarf” by 竇蓉 via VJmedia

Beijing knows very well that “Hongkonger” identity is the biggest threat to the rule of the Communist Hong Kong. Ricky Wong’s TV station made itself clear from the very beginning with the name “Hong Kong TV”, which aims to revive Hong Kong TV culture. Targeting Hong Kong local consumers and advertisers, the station inadvertently nailed a lie that China promulgates daily – the market of Hong Kong is too small that Hong Kong must integrate into China. HKTV interferes with the plan of destroying Hong Kong culture. Therefore, it must be destroyed in its nascent state.

In two decades, Hong Kong, an Asian cultural giant, has shrunk to become a cultural dwarf. Hongkongers depreciate Hong Kong movie, TVB drama, and Cantopop. The cultural dwarf plan has been carried out successfully. How can the authority tolerate the resurgence of Hong Kong pop culture under the lead of Ricky Wong?

These days, young girls and housewives all rush to embrace Korean drama. Hong Kong pop culture is empty. It seems that what remains in the new generation is fights between “Kong gals” and “toxic guys”. The society despises local culture; netizens mock TVB drama. These phenomena prove that Hong Kong TV and movie is passé. This allows Beijing to mock and manipulate Hong Kong with its cultural giant status. Strictly speaking, the two free-to-air TV stations no longer serve Hong Kong people. This incident exposed the close link between TVB and the government, which the station serves primarily. Because of the protective policy, TVB has no problem filming rubbish.

The following is a translated transcript of part of the online radio programme “Local Forum”, which was broadcast on Oct 18th 2013 and featured scholar Chin Wan and veteran media person Leung Kam-cheung. The part is about the reason why HKTV is denied the license.

C = Chin Wan, L = Leung Kam-cheung

L: Why is denying Ricky Wong’s HKTV a TV license has stirred up discontent in the society? Because he had put lots of money into the station or hired lots of actors and filmed TV dramas.

L: On the surface, the whole incident has nothing to do with politics. Ricky Wong said that he wouldn’t deal with politics, wouldn’t invite Wong Yuk-man or other politicians to comment on news, and would only focus on TV dramas. My friends who are familiar with the financial field said that the station wouldn’t even have financial news. The station just focuses on TV dramas, why is it denied a free-to-air TV license?

C: A city with 7 or 8 million has only two TV stations. It is politics. Looking back at history, after 1967 leftist riot, TVB was granted a TV license. Of course, TVB had applied for the license several months before the riot. However, only after the riot did the government grant TVB a license.

L: In the end, TV station is related to politics. Even for a TV series, it’s related to politics. Why did Commercial TV (CTV) fail? The most important reason was that the British Hong Kong government thought that the station was funded by China.

C: CTV filmed many things about Chinese culture. Even the hexagonal logo of CTV symbolises “six arts” – rites, music, charioteering, calligraphy, and math. Certainly, British also promoted culture. They also made many cultural programmes in RTHK. However, they were afraid of enemy investment.

Logo of CTV

(The most popular song of CTV is “Who is the biggest hero?”, the theme song of the 1976 version of “The Legend of the Candor Heroes”. However, the video is from the TVB remake of the drama in 1983.)

L: If the rejection of HKTV is politics, where does the problem lie? I deduce that filming TV dramas in Hong Kong touches on the reign of politics.

C: If you want to be the topic of the town, you must bring in something exciting or satirical. You must have gimmick.

L: Ricky Wong said HKTV would not deal with politics and would only focus on TV dramas. Theoretically, he should be given a chance. The problem lies in here. If he uses TV dramas to promulgate political agenda in the future, the authority can do nothing. From the viewpoint of Hongkonger, it would be strange. From the viewpoint of Chinese cultural politics, it’s understandable. In the past, Kang Sheng wrote a note to Mao Zedong, “Using novel to against the Party is one big invention.” From the viewpoint of the Communist Party, all cultural products and industries have political elements.

C: They are thinking with the Soviet Union’s literature view.

L: From this, I deduce a very serious conclusion. If our view is correct, there must be a conspiracy behind the rejection of HKTV – One day, Hong Kong will stop local production of TV drama completely.

C: Certainly. It’s a must. They can produce trashy TV dramas, making you lose interest and switch to watch CCTV or Chinese production. Now it’s starting to look like that. DVD shops everywhere, you see, mostly sell period dramas from China. Ten years ago these shops sold TVB dramas or Hong Kong movies. But these days, walking from Shamshuipo to Proletariat Political Institute, shops mostly sell TV drama from China.

C: China has no private TV stations. All of them are owned by the government. Therefore, once Ministry of Culture commands, TV station raises funds and then film a drama. It’s a drama made by the government. Their strategy is like how South Korea encourages creative industry. A group of people are assigned to make as many dramas as you want. They aren’t comparable to Hong Kong dramas in the 70’s and 80’s because they are the products of the governments.

L: Whether granting a TV license or making a TV station trashy, they’re all planned. Because Beijing wants to destroy Hong Kong cultural products so that people can’t learn about themselves.

C: Even if the popular culture weren’t sublime, it would be better than none; it would be better than having no discussion topic; it would be better than having no cultural expression. Even if a cultural product had commercial elements, its success would still depend on the approval of the general public. You have to lure audiences to watch your product. Therefore, a cultural product speaks the mind of an era and audiences.

L: One of the problems (of destroying Hong Kong cultural product) is about Cantonese language. Because these TV dramas are constructed to be expressed in Cantonese, and if the dialogues get really popular, it’ll become part of our long-term memory…. You can imagine that if everything is based on Mandarin, i.e, Hong Kong TV drama is replaced by Chinese Drama, in fact, this can destroy the Hongkonger identity.

C: If you watch subtitles of TVB drama, which are translated from Cantonese into Mandarin, you’ll find many wrong translations, and they fail to capture the essence of Cantonese. On the other hand, in Mandarin TV dramas that are translated into Cantonese, there are many wrong translations as well.

C: Not only do the Chinese Communist Party want to wipe out Cantonese, the local Northern culture is also ruined by Mandarin.

L: What you said is exactly right. I’ve met many grassroots Chinese. To this date, they despise their home language. They don’t want to speak their home languages, because they think the languages are out-of-date. It’s a political strategy to wipe out regional differences.

C: After wiping out these regional differences, they promulgate the language of the Communist Party….


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