Hong Kong: Mao-Think v. the Stiff Upper Lip

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For the past nine months, as Red China writhed in the grasp of Mao Tse-tung's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Hong Kong has been the chief watching point for the outside world.

Last week the British Crown Colony suddenly lost its spectator status. From the colony's teeming Kowloon district, thousands of pro-Maoist Chinese poured into the streets to harass Hong Kong's British rulers with the same harsh tactics that Mao's Red Guards have used on their enemies within Red China.

The trouble, which started at a plastic-flower plant in the northeastern part of Kowloon, quickly blossomed into the most prolonged disturbances in the colony's postwar history. Mobs of three or four thousand teen-age boys, usually led by older youths who wore Mao Tse-tung emblems on their shirts and waved the little red book of Mao's sayings, stoned hotels, overturned autos, set fire to a double-decker bus, and showered bottles on the police.

The British reacted with extraordinary cool. When 2,500 or so more orderly demonstrators headed on foot and by car to Government House, the residence of Governor Sir David Trench, 51, Hong Kong police politely waved the Red autos to a lot marked "Official Petitioners' Car Park." Sir David refused to receive any delegations from the demonstrators, ordered the gate left ajar so that petitions could be passed through. He reported that he was not a bit disturbed by the constant cacophony, but allowed that his poodle Peter had become so unnerved that he had to be packed off to an animal shelter.

Ominous Ultimatum. No one knew whether Peking had actually instigated the initial flare-up, or whether it had been started by overzealous local Communists. Once the trouble began, however, Red China helped to keep it going. The British chargé d'affaires in Peking was summoned to the Foreign Ministry for a dressing-down that was severe even by Peking's hysterical standards. The British in Hong Kong, charged Red China, were committing "barbarous fascist atrocities," and were in collusion with the "U.S. imperialists" to escalate the war in Viet Nam.

Red China then issued a five-point ultimatum ordering that Britain: 1) accept the demands put forward by the Chinese workers in Hong Kong, 2) stop all "fascist measures," 3) free all who were arrested, 4) punish the police who made the arrests and compensate the "victims" for time in jail, and 5) pledge that similar incidents would not happen again. To keep the pressure on, crowds ransacked the home of the British consul in Shanghai; a "support Hong Kong" parade was held in Canton, and a monster rally of 100,000 turned out in Peking.

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