The Communist “Hong Kong Independent Battalion” fought the Nationalists rather than the Japanese. Churchill’s stand of Hong Kong saved thousands of Chinese.
by Mark Tarrant
“Revolution of Our Times.” a documentary about Hong Kong’s 2019–20 protests by Kiwi Chow was released in Australia earlier this month.
Australia’s public broadcaster, SBS reports that the film will be seen by 10,000 Australians during its sold-out run of screenings across the country. Mr Chow says his film being sold out in Australia marks an “unprecedented” time in history.
At a packed afternoon screening of the film at the Palace Norton Street cinema in Sydney, I together with fellow patrons struggled to comprehend the violent dismantling of the Hong Kong that we all so dearly loved.
The bleakest, “point of no return” violence was when thugs in white T-shirts attacked returning protestors and passengers including a pregnant woman, children, and the elderly at the Yuen Long MTR train station at 10:30pm on 21 July 2019.
The Hong Kong Police Force once described as “Asia’s finest” refused to respond to emergency calls for help. Is this how the Jews of Vienna felt as they were assaulted by thugs on 9 and 10 November 1938 as the police looked on?
During the Second World War my school, King George V in Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, was used by the occupying Japanese forces as a military hospital, and from Spring 1945 as a P.O.W hospital under Japanese administration.
After Japan’s surrender on 15 August 1945, an R.A.F Mobile Field Hospital occupied the school from 4 September 1945, later becoming an R.A.F barracks before the school was returned to civilian use on 19 August 1946.
Upon the school’s reopening, the main hall was still “decorated above the stage with a Japanese Rising Sun in plaster partially covered with a Union Jack.”
As the school’s first post-war students entered the main hall for morning assembly, to sing hymns and say their prayers they would have noticed above the entrance, carved into the dark green terrazzo by the R.A.F, “that historical utterance of Mr. Churchill” “Never in the field of human conflict…,” where it remains to this day as a “permanent memorial and remainder.”
Andrew Roberts writes in his 2018 book “Churchill” that “Today, of course, we know imperialism to be an evil and exploitative concept.” “Instead, he [Churchill] took the firm and irrevocable decision to dedicate his life to the defence of the British Empire.”
Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek had made it clear he wanted Hong Kong returned to China once hostilities had ended. War-time US President Franklin D. Roosevelt was adamant that Churchill should give up Hong Kong as a British colony at the cessation of hostilities.
Fortunately for the people of Hong Kong, and the countless Chinese who would later flee Mao’s China, Churchill insisted that the territory be returned to Britain at the end of the Second World War.
On 28 May 2018 the Royal Geographical Society – Hong Kong (RGS-HK) hosted a talk “The Hong Kong Independent Battalion: The Story of the Secret Resistance Fighters of HK during the Japanese Occupation of 1941-1945.”
The RGS-HK website explained, “Almost at the same time of the British surrender, units of the Dong Jiang People’s Anti-Japan Guerrilla Force that had been active in Guangdong secretly followed the Japanese invaders into the territory. They organised themselves into the Hong Kong Independent Battalion and set up a network around the territory. Their activities throughout the period of Japanese occupation included the protection of villagers against local bandits and the rescue of famous Chinese intellectuals, authors, artists, journalists, and academics, escaped Allied soldiers and downed airmen, eventually smuggling them out of the territory.”
In hosting this talk, RGS-HK has been an unwitting victim of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front propaganda. The Dong Jiang People’s Anti-Japan Guerrilla Force, also known as the East River Column / Dongjiang Column, was created by the Chinese Communist Party as was the oxymoronic “Hong Kong Independent Battalion.”
The speakers at the RGS-HK event included Tsui Yuet Ching, author of “The Hong Kong Independent Battalion,” the book’s translator Catherine Man, and retired educator Geoffrey Ko,
Tsui Yuet Ching writes, “Mr. Wong was a guerrilla trainer, and Mr. Chan worked for the Liaison Office of The Central People’s Government which operated as a Chinese embassy in Hong Kong at this time. This leadership taskforce attempted to co-ordinate resistance among the local population in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, as well as in the New Territories.”
Tsui Yuet Ching refers to “Chou En Lai Minister of State in the Chinese Government at the time.” Zhou Enlai (Chou En Lai) held no such position in the Nationalist-led Government of the Republic of China at the time.
The “intellectuals” which the book explains were rescued from Hong Kong under Zhou Enlai’s orders all became writers in Communist China.
48 years later, the escape route was reversed with intellectuals from the Tiananmen Massacre escaping from China to Hong Kong in 1989.
As military historian Antony Beevor explains in his book “The Second World War,” Mao wanted to seize Nationalist territory and not fight the Japanese.
Antony Beevor writes that, following the October 1938 Central Committee plenum Mao’s policy was strict, “Communist forces were not to fight the Japanese, unless attacked. They were to conserve their strength for seizing territory from the Nationalists. Mao made clear that Chiang Kai-shek was their ultimate opponent, their ‘enemy No.1.’”
Soviet TASS China war correspondent Peter Vladimirov confirms Mao’s policy when he reports on the Eighth Route Army limiting itself “to sluggish defensive fighting of local importance. Whenever fighting starts on the enemy’s initiative, the Eighth Route Army rolls back to the mountains avoiding clashes.”
Antony Beevor explains that by 1943, British intelligence were certain the Communists had made an unofficial deal with the Japanese under which both sides restricted their operations against each other.
And Richard Bernstein writes in his book “China 1945” how the Communists were extremely successful in propagating the notation that they had struggled bitterly, bravely, and continuously against the invader, but their million-man army had engaged in only small-scale hit-and-run attacks and not a single major military operation against the Japanese since the Hundred Regiments Offensive of 1940.
The myth of war heroism by Chinese Communist Party has now become part of the Western lexicon. According to Beevor, “Smedley, Theodore White and other influential American writers could not accept for a moment that Mao might turn out to be a far worse tyrant than Chiang Kai-shek. The personality cult, the Great Leap Forward which killed more people than in the whole of the Second World War, the cruel madness of the Cultural Revolution and the seventy million victims of a regime that was in many ways worse that Stalinism proved totally beyond their imagination.”
Mao always had his sights set on killing his fellow Chinese opponents, not the invading Japanese nor the Americans who stayed on after the war to help China avoid civil war. True to Mao’s policy, the Chinese Communist Party would not allow Hong Kong to become Nationalist territory.
Tsui Yuet Ching writes under her chapter “Cleaning Up Local Problems” that, “The Hong Kong Independent Battalion forces subsequently had many battles with dozens of local criminals, often either killing them, or evicting them from the villages they were terrorising. This helped build long-lasting relationships with local villagers.”
Without any legal authority the killings would have been extrajudicial executions in Hong Kong by the Chinese Communist Party. Perhaps the “local criminals” were simply people who did not wish to have Communists in Hong Kong.
Tsui Yuet Ching’s attempts to legitimise extrajudicial killings by the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong during the war years is particularly troublesome in light of the attacks on innocent Hongkongers at the Yuen Long MTR train station.
Following the train station attacks, the Hong Kong Free Press reported on a pro-Dongjiang Column march that took place in Yuen Long where: “The marchers wore armbands which read ‘Good citizen of Hong Kong,’ and held placards declaring their affiliation to the Dongjiang Column—a guerrilla unit that fought the Japanese invasion during WWII.” They shouted slogans such as “support the police,” “punish rioters,” and “it is reasonable to open fire.” The march concluded outside the Yuen Long Police Station at around 4pm.
Despite the event not receiving police permission, according to Ming Pao, no officers stopped the marchers from taking over part of Castle Peak Road, the main thoroughfare of the district.
The only home I knew as a child in the 1960’s and 70’s was called the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong. Hong Kong was a beacon for Chinese fleeing Mao’s murderous Marxist conflagration that consumed 70 million victims.
The Mainlanders who swam across the shark-infested waters of Mirs Bay holding onto inflated inner-tubes or clinging onto the undercarriage of pig trains destined for Hung Hom terminal in Kowloon were escaping evil, not in Andrew Roberts’ mind heading for it.
Andrew Roberts’ book on Churchill reads like a Wikipedia entry, devoid of any heart. It also ignores how much Churchill’s vision of democracy was rooted in Judeo-Christian values. Gentle readers, if you wish to see Churchill’s legacy in action go to a screening of “Revolution of Our Times.”
Like shifting sands all moving in the same direction, Andrew Roberts’ controversial biography on Churchill, and the Royal Geographical Society – Hong Kong hosting a false history of Chinese Communist Party’s war heroism may help erode democratic values, undermine Churchill’s legacy in Hong Kong, and even indirectly support the jailing of her pro-democracy leaders.
The Chinese Communist Party does not own China and does not own the Chinese people. Ever the optimist, Winston Churchill’s “V” will be for Victory of democratic values over the CCP in Hong Kong.