Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014

Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014
Admiralty, Umbrella Revolution 2014

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sundays in Mui Wo

There are times when I think that nothing can beat a Mui Wo Sunday.

There was a casual invite for a little AM beach rendez vous. We weren't sure if we'd take it, but got up and thought, hey why not. Left Stephen who was completely crashed and decided to head out.  Keohi and I  put on our backpacks and walked to the beach. In the backpack is a hunk of mango bread and some slices of sour cream coffee cake leftover from last night, some water, a change of clothes for Keohi, and sunblock. We did not bike today because I refused to carry the lance with me on the bike. People are free to pretend they are knights or Perseus, but this does not mean that Perseus' mommy carries the weapon. Mommy is not Pegasus. She is not a squire. So the choice of no lance and bike or lance and walk, means that we walk.

Beach is empty. Pretty soon some of his pals show up on the beach--children from Wang Tung, Caitlin and Cathy, Kirsty and Albert's family. There are very few people on the beach. It's not particularly sunny, but still the heat is there, but we've parked ourselves under a shady tree and have claimed a wooden picnic table and bench. All is well. His pal Marvin's dad is a lifeguard. No rope in the water please! (Perseus/Belleraphon also carries white rope in his backpack, not sure why, but something to do with slaying Medusa) then the other children from the village pass by and play. Finn's family shows up, we decide to eat lunch there, and Susan heads to the local take-out and we are soon eating on the beach. Baby Isla is gurgling. Susan has been slain, I think. She was Medusa. Not sure. Briefly later, a sand fight. A time out.  More people show up from HK Island.

Stephen shows up. Ball is kicked. Sand stretches before us. Water is splashed in. Neighbors chat. The breeze keeps us cool and the sticky air is not so bad. The kids run from one place to another, but are pretty much always in sight, and besides, this is a small village, so most people know each other. There are weekend visitors, for sure, but enough locals who pass by on bike or foot who know each other--greet hellos and pass.

Everyone heads out. Swimming lessons. Perseus' chariot is the back of Dad's bike. Mom is stuck walking with the wooden lance to Tom's for a cup frozen coffee. Pick up a copy of the paper, walk/bike home.

Mom orders new bike from Merida! 4 years and it's time to upgrade...to...the orange version of my same bike...which has somehow nearly doubled in price! This time a padded seat on the back for Keohi in case he gets tired. We've now outgrown two sizes of plastic seats on the back of my bike. It's true, I feel a little sentimental about this. He's 5 now and mostly bikes on his own zipping in front of me, me, desperately peddling to keep up as he races down the hill through the village like a madman. My former village baby, now a village boy...time passes so fast.

Mui Wo Sundays. Casual. Spontaneous. Outdoor life. Environmentally friendly and hey, free. Hard to beat a beach by your house and nice take-out as entertainment. No shopping. No traffic. No scheduled activities....aaaahhhhh....HK Island people, you have no idea what you are missing...we are lucky here. Mui Wo Sundays. Our village on the South China Sea...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Typical Mui Wo Saturday for our 5 year old boy: Get up, eat breakfast, make bed, and have neighbor 'round for a play. Protest brushing teeth, but do it anyway. Feed fish. Eat lunch followed by ice cream, cycle to the football pitch to kick ball with dad. Sweat like mad. Cycle to the pool with mom and dad, splash and swim a few laps (mom walks beside me). Cycle to the playground and meet up with pals. Cycle home, take shower, feed fish and eat pulgogi and rice. A little tidy up. Attempt sumo wrestler moves. Wear outfit and pretend you're Perseus. Brandish sword. Watch DVD with mom. Stories and collapse in bed. No cars. No taxis. No skyscrapers. No guns. Hard to believe he's having a 21st century childhood.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Keohi, Vocabulary and Identity

You know you are in trouble when your 5 year old knows a word that you don't. Today I had to look up the word "garot" online. Thought it was...uhm...maybe a French scarf, some kind of wrap? He had wrapped all of his action figures in cloth napkins. Some had blankets, he said. Others were wearing a garot. Garot? I said, Oh, yes...

I guess he got the word from the National Geographic sumo clip. It's often a persimmon dyed cloth, traditionally a Korean hanbok worn by those who lived on the island of Jeju. Figured there must be some connection with this and the sumo. Will have to watch the sumo clip more carefully.

It's amazing how much children absorb at this age, how they repeat the words and phrases and the intense level of mimicry that they exhibit.

It's hard to know how to analyze and discuss complicated historical (and let's face it, present-day in many parts of the world) subjects. There was a National Geographic map of the Civil War. He had read a story about a slave last summer who had escaped to the North, so I had to draw upon his remembrance of that story when he asked about slavery.

Here in Mui Wo, he is aware of ethnic difference, but due to us living in Hong Kong and the number of mixed families and couples there are, he doesn't seem to be made to feel as an Other. I remember myself, at age 5 living in Seoul and going to the U.S. Army Base school which was fairly diverse. I also was told by my mother, how excited I was when I first went to Hawaii. I told her excitedly: "Mom, mom, look at all of the Orientals!" At the time, I was 3 years old. So I do not take it for granted that he can have the experience of feeling that he is anonymous or like the majority (which, actually, given he's biracial, he's not in HK). Having grown up as a person of color in the US, I know that it is actually a privilege to feel this.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mui Wo Days and the Beginning of Summer

It's 7AM and you're awake. It's also Saturday. But if you have a child under the age of 9, you're awake. Keohi and I head downstairs and leave Dad to catch some Zs...whip up a little french toast for Keohi, and for me, leftover banana muffin with chocolate (dark orange chocolate, the banana muffin elevated to cake I'd say). It's time to collect money for the Lantau Outlying Islands Women's Association. I'm not sure why I agreed to do this for Keohi's school, well, it's a community activity. It's supposed to be for Flag Day. I go around thinking we are raising money for the flags that are periodically hung up around our village (festivals, funerals, and general holiday events) but later find out, it's not for flags, just for the association. That's okay. Given my Cantonese level is basically non-existent, I spend a lot of time bumbling around not really sure of what is going on, and sometimes this is not such a bad thing. Times like this, it neither discourages nor encourages me...

Anyway, by 8:40AM we're knocking on doors. Keohi has refused to wear his Lick Hang school shirt and I'm generally apathetic to such causes, so we hit up the neighbors, some of whom have agreed to donate the night before. Whenever there is a school volunteer activity and it involves the under 9 set, it's basically a parent activity. We bike to Luk Tei Tong and collect money. Conveniently, our former landlord, the village head is asleep. We will have to ask for donations from him at another time...then we come back to suit up and bike down to the swimming pool.

Lick Hang gang is there--his pals Caitlin, Ace, and Finn, ready to jump in the pool. This is what makes Mui Wo a good community for kids, I'd say. We get everywhere on bikes, everyone kicks in when it's for the kids, and for the most part, we do not worry about the things that make most modern parents  of small children freak out: Perverts, Cars, and Guns.
No, instead, in Mui Wo, we have stumbling village old man with mental problems (but everyone knows it, so nobody is bothered, he's harmless), teenagers or commuters on bikes and the rogue cyclist with a MOTOR ATTACHED to the bike (a big no-no here), and bovine urine and feces.
The latter is a drag. The playground really stinks and that old person's exercise spot across from the swimming pool needs some serious monsoon rains to wipe out the smell of cow pee. Wheeew...
Anyway, a good hour long splash in the pool and then a nice dim sum/yum cha at the corner where the ole dai pai dong used to be, across from the church. The kids eat, then run outside. Everyone bikes and walks home. Time to look around for the superhero costumes. It's a birthday party later in the day at the verboten Old MacDonald's on the waterfront.
This dining establishment has not really been on Keohi's radar. Mostly because Old MacD's makes his mom feel slightly sick--the smell of it. I ate it as a kid, but don't like it for the same reason that most people don't like it. It's junk food. Doesn't taste that good. I watched Supersize Me and read Fast Food Nation too etc...so we just don't go. I've been able to avoid it because I just tell Keohi that the people inside of it, when he sees the place, are having a birthday party there, and he's not invited.
He's only 5, so he still believes that. Today, his second visit, his first, was also a birthday party.
I attended neither, but today, he went with Dad...
Mom then came home, did some work...and K went to the football pitch with friend.

Typical Mui Wo weekend. No trip to Central. The kid bikes and swims and sees friends. A birthday party. No car rides. No malls. No shopping. Kicking the ball around with friend and Dad.

Can't beat that as a good day for a 5 year old, or the parent of a 5 year old. Good ole Mui Wo, our little village on the South China Sea...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chen Guangcheng, Blind Dissident, Sold Down the River to American Corporate Interests To the English, who may or may not read this blog, the phrase "Sold Down the River" is distinctly an Americanism, and it refers to those African and African Americans, who were enslaved, who may have escaped, and who were subsequently recaptured and imprisoned once more, and sold "down the river" into the Deep South. Congratulations, America. You did it again. It is often an agonizing and completely enraging truth that to be an American means that you, as a passport holder, are party to this type of behavior as a result of your government. Stephen always said, when I had asked him why he didn't want an American passport, that he would never want to run like hell from one Empire to join up another Empire. This is a perfect example. From the NY TIMES. God, I am so pissed off. Dissident Exits U.S. Embassy, Leaving a Trail of Questions By JANE PERLEZ BEIJING — Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident who fled house arrest and came under American protection, left the American Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday and immediately ignited a new controversy over the way his case was handled by the United States and China. In a day of dramatic twists and turns, Mr. Chen went to a hospital in Beijing and gave up American protection after State Department officials said they had secured assurances from the Chinese government that he would remain safe. The agreement initially appeared to ease tensions after a six-day standoff that threatened a major breach in Sino-American relations just as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Beijing for strategic talks. But the future safety of Mr. Chen — and his reasons for agreeing to leave American protection — immediately came under scrutiny, setting off a firestorm among human rights activists, some of whom questioned whether Mr. Chen acted under duress. Mr. Chen also gave evolving accounts of his own decision-making in interviews with Western news organizations, and his lawyer, Teng Biao, said he had “changed his mind” and decided he did not feel safe remaining in China. American officials had initially described details of the negotiations between both governments and Mr. Chen as well as a telephone call to the dissident from Ms. Clinton after he left the embassy compound for treatment at a medical facility here. They said all the parties reached an agreement that involved significant concessions from the Chinese and was the best that could be achieved given Mr. Chen’s desire to stay in China rather than to seek asylum abroad. Mr. Chen will be permitted to study law at a major university in the city of Tianjin, far away from his home village where he had been subject to harassment and intimidation for many years, they said. Mrs. Clinton said in a statement that she was “pleased that we were able to facilitate Chen Guangcheng’s stay and departure from the U.S. Embassy in a way that reflected his choices and our values. I was glad to have the chance to speak with him today and to congratulate him on being reunited with his wife and children.” “Mr. Chen has a number of understandings with the Chinese government about his future, including the opportunity to pursue higher education in a safe environment,” she added. “Making these commitments a reality is the next crucial task.” But in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from his hospital bed late Wednesday evening, Mr. Chen said American officials told him while he was under American protection that Chinese authorities had threatened to beat his wife to death unless Mr. Chen left the American embassy, and that Mr. Chen therefore left under coercion. An American official denied that account. The official said Mr. Chen was told that his wife, Yuan Weijing, who had been brought to Beijing by the Chinese authorities while Mr. Chen was in the American Embassy, would not be allowed to remain in the capital unless Mr. Chen left the embassy to see her. She would be sent back to Mr. Chen’s home village in Shandong, where no one could guarantee her safety. “At no time did any U.S. official speak to Chen about physical or legal threats to his wife and children. Nor did Chinese officials make any such threats to us,” Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokesperson, said in an e-mailed statement. “U.S. interlocutors did make clear that if Chen elected to stay in the Embassy, Chinese officials had indicated to us that his family would be returned to Shandong, and they would lose their opportunity to negotiate for reunification.” Mr. Chen told another media organization, Britain’s Channel 4 News, in a subsequent phone interview that he hoped to leave China and seek safety abroad, expressing regret that he no longer had American protection. American officials said he had consistently spoken of his desire to remain in China during the time he was under U.S. protection. “At no point during his time in the Embassy did Chen ever request political asylum in the U.S.,” Ms. Nuland said. “At every opportunity, he expressed his desire to stay in China, reunify with his family, continue his education and work for reform in his country. All our diplomacy was directed at putting him in the best possible position to achieve his objectives.” As word of Mr. Chen’s account filtered out on China’s version of Twitter, the community of human rights activists inside China and supporters in the United States questioned the United States’ decision to allow Mr. Chen to leave under a degree of pressure. Bob Fu, president of the United States-based ChinaAid association, which has defended Mr. Chen and other human rights activists in China, issued a statement saying he feared that the “U.S. side has abandoned Mr. Chen” and that his departure from the embassy was not necessarily voluntary. “We are deeply concerned about this sad development if the reports about Chen’s involuntary departure (from the U.S. Embassy) are true,” Mr. Fu said. He added that he did understand Mr. Chen’s desire to remain in China rather than to seek asylum in the United States or another foreign country. The dispute over the terms of his departure erupted even as American official provided fresh details of the six-day saga involving Mr. Chen and his efforts to seek American protection, as well as the negotiations over his status inside China going forward. Mr. Chen entered the American Embassy late last week with the assistance of American officials because of the “exceptional circumstances, including his disabilities,” a senior American official told American reporters traveling with Mrs. Clinton. “On humanitarian grounds we assisted him and allowed him to remain on a temporary basis,” the official said. Mr. Chen, a lawyer who had campaigned against forced abortions and sterilizations conducted as part of China’s policy of limiting families to one child, suffered an injury to his foot during his escape from his house in Shandong province last week and was walking with the help of a crutch, the official said. During his time at the embassy, Mr. Chen adhered to his position that he was not seeking asylum in the United States but wanted to stay with his family in China as a free person, said the official, who was involved in the three-way negotiations that involved Mr. Chen and officials from the United States and China. “He expressed his hope to stay in China and he never varied from that,” a second senior official involved in the negotiations, who briefed reporters, said. On Wednesday afternoon, after Mrs. Clinton’s arrival about six hours earlier, and after the Chinese had made commitments to guarantee his safety, the American Ambassador, Gary Locke, asked Mr. Chen if he was ready to leave the embassy. Mr. Chen, who speaks broken English, said in Chinese: “Let’s go,” one of the two American officials said. As he left the embassy for the hospital, Mrs. Clinton phoned Mr. Chen in what the two American officials said was an emotional conversation since both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Chen knew of each other but had never met. At the end of the talk, according to one of the officials, Mr. Chen told Mrs. Clinton, also in broken English: “I would like to kiss you.” Mr. Chen subsequently told reporters that he told Ms. Clinton he wanted to “see” her, not to kiss her. The officials said that during the negotiations inside the embassy, Mr. Chen at times would sit with the two main negotiators, holding each one of them by the hand. The two negotiators were the State Department’s legal adviser, Harold Koh, and the assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Kurt M. Campbell. After driving a short distance to the Chaoyang Hospital from the embassy compound, Mr. Chen was reunited with his wife, Yuan Weijing, who was wearing a gray shirt decorated with a rainbow across the front, and their two children, whom he had not seen in some time, the officials said. Ms. Yuan had traveled from Shandong Province the previous day. He was being treated by American and Chinese doctors, the officials said. Mr. Chen had agreed that his medical records be given to the Chinese doctors, they said. Under the arrangement agreed to by the United States, China and Mr. Chen, he would be relocated to a different part of China from his hometown in Shandong, where he was under house arrest and where he says his family had been physically attacked, the officials said. The officials said he had been given a choice of seven locations agreed upon by the Chinese and Americans and that Mr. Chen had chosen Tianjin, an industrial port city east of Beijing. Mr. Chen would be allowed to enroll at a university to pursue his law studies, his self-taught profession, the senior official said. “He will have several university options,” one of the officials said. The American officials said they were satisfied with the pledges from the Chinese authorities that Mr. Chen, 40, would be allowed to live a normal life. The Chinese promised to report any actions against him, they said. Precisely what the Chinese government offered as a way of protection for Mr. Chen was not immediately clear. The American officials went out of their way to praise the Chinese negotiators. They described them as working “intensely and with humanity.” According to the American officials, negotiations began on April 26. The American negotiators met with their Chinese counterparts, led by the vice foreign minister, Cui Tiankai, at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and relayed the issues to Mr. Chen at the American Embassy. Mr. Chen never met directly with the Chinese officials, the American officials said. There appeared to be no similar case in which a high-profile Chinese dissident had sought protection at the American Embassy and then returned to Chinese custody. American human rights officials and lawyers have often questioned whether the Chinese would provide the protection they promised in such a situation. “This was not easy for the Chinese government,” one of the senior American officials said. Only hours earlier, the crisis that has swirled around Mr. Chen seemed far from abating as China accused the United States of interfering in its affairs and demanded an apology from Washington for taking a Chinese citizen into the embassy “via abnormal means.” “The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with the move,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Weimin, as saying. “The U.S. Embassy in Beijing has the obligation to observe relevant international laws and Chinese laws and it should not do anything irrelevant to its function.” The two American officials declined to address the demand that the United States apologize for sheltering Mr. Chen and that the United States investigate the circumstance in which the embassy was used in what the Chinese said was an “abnormal” way. “Our actions were lawful,” one of the American officials said. Mrs. Clinton is in China for two days of scheduled talks with senior Chinese officials on economic and security matters. She landed in Beijing shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday local time. Whether she took charge of negotiations was not immediately clear but Mr. Chen was admitted to the medical facility some hours after her arrival. Mr. Chen’s case will continue to overshadow the talks, known as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which are scheduled to begin Thursday. But movement toward a resolution may ease some of the pressure. The Obama administration and the Chinese government have been anxious to ensure the case did not dominate the talks, which will cover subjects from North Korea to the global economy. The last Chinese dissident to take refuge in an American diplomatic compound was Fang Lizhi, an astrophysicist, who walked into the embassy in Beijing with his wife in 1989, the day after the People’s Liberation Army crushed pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. The Chinese government regards foreign criticism of its human rights policies and practices as undue interference in its internal affairs, and it will almost certainly use the occasion of the talks to drive that point home, diplomats in Beijing said. This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: May 2, 2012 An earlier version of this article misspelled Hillary Rodham Clinton’s middle name as Rodman.