The SAR Passport Row

Chip Tsao
Chip Tsao

Asia City Online    January 10, 2013

Hundreds of locally born Indians and Pakistanis have been denied Hong Kong SAR passports on the grounds that none of their ancestors were ethnic Chinese. The SAR passport is granted to racially pure Chinese, according to the official doctrines of Chinese nationalism.

This means even if the ancestors of Indian and Pakistani ancestors fought to defend Hong Kong against Japanese invasion in 1941 and were imprisoned or executed in Stanley prison, they had better turn to New Delhi or Islamabad to sort out their national identity.

Maybe it¡¦s because the Chinese have a long memory when it comes to their own interpretation of history, since that episode is also considered a historical crime as the Indian and Pakistani paramilitary forces fought for the survival of the British Empire.

But Indian and Pakistani children in local schools must also learn to show emotional respect to the Chinese flag as part of the curriculum. As Hong Kong Chinese schoolchildren are made to visit the PLA barracks in order to learn to admire the Chinese soldiers¡¦ military prowess, Indian and Pakistani schoolchildren, who speak fluent Cantonese, have to share the same patriotism.

Political correctness must not be forgotten at any time. For example, do not refute your teacher when he says that Buddhism was invented in China rather than imported from ancient India. Raise your hand when the teacher talks about China¡¦s increasing global influence, and tell him you think it is a good idea for Pakistan to open its ports to Chinese carriers and ally with Beijing against the United States. It is not recommended that any sensitive questions over the 1962 Sino-Indian border be raised, to avoid embarrassment.

But with their SAR passport-holding rights stripped by the government, they are made a miserable minority, forced to pay a full set-meal restaurant bill but not allowed to take a sip of the soup. It is not fair to have your children ordered to learn how to love China in the same classroom as other Hong Kong Chinese schoolchildren, but because of the color of one¡¦s skin, the love is not reciprocated with a passport, leaving the Indian and Pakistani governments to foot that bill.

But our sub-continental fellow Hongkongers have one trump card. India and Pakistan are both members of the Commonwealth. Their native governments could step forward and make a complaint to Britain, calling for London to threaten some sort of tit-for-tat measure¡Xfor instance, making ethnic Chinese applying for British citizenship in the UK also have their racial bloodline reviewed, to make sure there¡¦s at least one Anglo-Saxon parent somewhere in the past 300 years.

Uproar and fear might then prompt the Chinese embassy to instruct the Hong Kong SAR government to change its mind.