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Interview︱Cai Ziqiang retired this year: I am a lucky generation, young people are talented but have a rough fate

2022-01-15T23:11:44.017Z

It is no exaggeration to say that Cai Ziqiang is "the most exposed scholar in Hong Kong". In the past two decades, he has actively commented on current affairs, was willing to answer media questions, and provided solid election data analysis. On the eve of last month's Legislative Council election, he and



It is no exaggeration to say that Cai Ziqiang is "the most exposed scholar in Hong Kong". In the past two decades, he has actively commented on current affairs, was willing to answer media questions, and provided solid election data analysis.

On the eve of last month's Legislative Council election, he and another well-known scholar, Ma Yue, jointly published a new book, "Special Elections: Institutions and Voting Behavior," and announced that the two would withdraw from researching Hong Kong elections and commenting on current affairs, drawing the attention of the political circle.


In an exclusive interview with Hong Kong 01, Cai Tsz-keung, who is currently a senior lecturer in the Department of Politics and Administration at CUHK, revealed that he will retire early this year. Now that I have written a book summarizing the old electoral system in Hong Kong, it is time to pass the baton to the next generation. In the future, I hope to do more work such as writing historical articles and telling historical stories through travel. There is no immigration plan at this stage.


He admitted that he was in the most "lucky" era in Hong Kong, enjoying the most free and golden years in Hong Kong, and intellectuals flourished, and he also devoted himself to political research in this atmosphere.

In contrast, Cai Ziqiang lamented that today's younger generation is obviously talented and ambitious, but in today's political situation, their ideals have been shattered and the road ahead is bleak, which is particularly sad: "Why do they have to face such a bumpy fate at such a young age? "


Cai Ziqiang Retires - Interview No. 2


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Early Years Inspired to Be a Commentator: I Don't Like Staying in the Ivory Tower

Cai Ziqiang, who is in front of the camera on weekdays, is serious, calm and composed, and is good at analyzing current events, but during the interview, he could not help but express his helplessness and emotion about the current situation.

He slowly talked about his study experience: "My undergraduate degree is business management, and it has nothing to do with politics." Later, he joined the student union, which coincided with the transition period after the Sino-British negotiation, and the students "recognized the Zhongguan Society". During the period, his aspirations for life also changed. He hoped to put the knowledge he learned into contributing to the society, so that he could "use what he has learned". Later, he studied some subjects in the Department of Political Science, and was deeply impressed by Professor Guan Xinji (CUHK Political Science and Political Science). Under the influence of emeritus chair professor and founding chairman of the Civic Party), he switched to politics and politics in his master's degree.

Looking back on nearly a quarter of a century of academic career since the publication of his first book "Perspectives on Hong Kong's Electoral System" in 1998, Cai Ziqiang said with a smile, "I believe that I am the most quoted commentator by the media." He mentioned that the autobiography Since studying politics, he has made up his mind that the research he does should not be out of touch with the current society. "I am not a person who likes to talk about theories in an ivory tower. I need a down-to-earth analysis that is useful to society." In 2003, he and Ma Yue joined forces. "The Political Effects of the Election System: The Experience of Hong Kong-style Proportional Representation" has since become an introductory textbook for many people to understand Hong Kong's electoral system, and is frankly gratified.

Since last March, the National People's Congress issued a decision to revise the electoral system in Hong Kong. Cai Ziqiang has felt the need to make a phased summary of the election of proportional representatives in Hong Kong. He also regards it as the end of his research career.

"I don't have any other research projects on hand. I have finished what I have to do. I have already proposed to the dean of the department to retire. The research work should be left to others."

Cai Ziqiang said that he will retire within this year.

(Photo by Zheng Zifeng)

Feeling the changes in Hong Kong: CUHK makes me more and more unfamiliar

The 56-year-old Cai Ziqiang has not yet reached the retirement age of 60 at CUHK, but he admits that the political environment in the past two years has been daunting, and he personally feels that CUHK is becoming more and more unfamiliar: "In the eyes of many people, CUHK is a There are more universities with humanistic feelings and idealism than striving for world rankings. Of course, world rankings must be done, but it should be more than that. CUHK has many scholars with humanistic care, and is rich in outspoken public intellectuals "However, many things have happened at CUHK in the past two years, such as the disbandment of the student union and the demolition of the Statue of Democracy, which makes people feel that this is not the CUHK that we used to know.

Extending to the whole of Hong Kong, Cai Ziqiang felt that the political situation "the overall situation has been settled", and he stopped his regular column in Ming Pao in June last year.

In the past six months, the public opinion environment in Hong Kong has changed dramatically. First, "Apple Daily" was suspended, and then "Position News" and "Zhongxin" were also unable to continue to operate due to political pressure: "Even a moderate media such as "Zhongxin" can't match this. Dalang, I will think that my position and proposition may not be very far from theirs, and I tend to be "enlightened in the middle", and even this can't be tolerated, this Hong Kong feels a bit strange." This accumulated fatigue and powerlessness make Cai Ziqiang felt even more that his decision to retire was correct.

Political commentary is green and yellow: the reality of helplessness

In the past 20 years, Cai Ziqiang has held up half the sky of Hong Kong political commentary, representing a relatively local social science viewpoint.

When asked if he was worried about the phenomenon of "green and yellow" after retirement, Cai Ziqiang pointed out that this is a helpless reality: "In the future, Hong Kong is full of red lines, and young scholars will definitely be more worried when commenting on current affairs. I have accumulated enough experience in commentary. If young scholars are not good at their words, they will encounter this turbulent age, and their careers will be affected, and their personal safety will be threatened, and the pressure will only increase.”

But Cai Ziqiang offered another way of thinking: "Actually, the 'commentator' itself has begun to decline. As a reporter, of course you know the pressure the media is under, and I would even describe the beginning of some 'non-commentators'. The phenomenon of citing commentators should be reduced. Like our generation, as scholars influence current affairs through the media, I believe it will become a swan song.”

Associate Professor Ma Yue, Senior Lecturer Cai Ziqiang and graduate Chen Junwen of the Department of Political Science and Administration of the Chinese University of China co-authored a new book "Special Elections: Institutions and Voting Behavior".

Ma Yue and Cai Ziqiang also said that they would fade out comments on current affairs in the future.

(file picture)

"If current events are tiring, looking at history is a lot of fun"

When it comes to life after retirement, Cai Ziqiang said that a few years ago, he expected to travel around the world and live in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Taiwan and other places for a few months before returning to Hong Kong to live a leisurely life.

However, under the new crown epidemic, this idea seems to be impossible for the time being. I hope that after the customs clearance of China and Hong Kong, we will organize some tour groups related to Chinese history, visit historical sites and explain Chinese history.

"Some friends want me to do some tours, such as the "1911 Revolution Tour", or to see the former residences of historical figures such as Liang Qichao, Hong Xiuquan, Kang Youwei, and Sun Yat-sen; see Zhou Enlai in Taiping (Guangzhou) in 1925. Guan and Deng Yingchao got married, what kind of food they ate, and learned about Zhou Enlai during the Huangpu Military Academy; Guangzhou Huanghuagang 72 Martyrs Tomb and Guangzhou Uprising Martyrs Cemetery are not in the same place, why is this? We can compare The end of the Qing Dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China were the "big changes once in a thousand years" in Chinese history, and the decisions of many historical figures have extended to the present day. It's boring to talk about these histories like this, but it will be interesting to see them live."

Therefore, Cai Ziqiang said that retirement is not boring, because he has a lot of "miscellaneous studies", and he especially likes to read history. "If current events make people tired, reading history has a lot of fun." He joked that government officials and the establishment often said that they should "Learn the national conditions", but I believe that not many people study it as seriously as him: "I have read all the 40 episodes of "Crossing the Yalu River" and the 49 episodes of "Armageddon", don't always think that I am some kind of "Western-influenced intellectual" , I write about the Chinese Communist Party, and many of the materials cited in the article are the official Party history of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Cai Ziqiang pointed out that he is not a historian himself, and extremely rigorous and detailed history research may not be his expertise. What he is best at is to use existing historical knowledge to explain to readers from a contemporary perspective and simple language, so as to learn from the past.

He revealed that in his spare time, he would write articles about his study of history in the form of storytelling. After retirement, he hopes to compile a book and publish it, and he is halfway done; he also has no immigration plan for the time being: "At this moment, I still like to be in Hong Kong. Of course, what happened in the past period of time will be "discounted", but overall Hong Kong is still the most suitable place for me. Of course, whether the situation will change in the future, no one knows."

Cai Ziqiang deeply felt that the current Chinese University has also changed.

(file picture)

"Our generation is lucky"

"So, do you think your career is considered a success?" The reporter heard about Cai Ziqiang's retirement plan. It seems that all the academic research that should be completed has been completed, and there are no regrets in his career.

Cai Ziqiang did not directly admit or deny, but pointed out a background of the times: "We are in a 'lucky era', and I will not deify Hong Kong British. In the early years, it was the same high pressure. But in the 1980s, the British prepared to withdraw from Hong Kong, and the colonial pressure began to disappear. , the years when Beijing still adopted looser policies in the early days of the handover were indeed the golden years of Hong Kong's freedom, and many intellectuals and political party members who were later very important emerged. We are fortunate to be in the fastest-growing era." However, times change and Hong Kong's political environment changes drastically. Cai Ziqiang admits that today's younger generation has no room for him to play when he was young.

"Let's not talk about being a scholar, but as a teacher, I have seen some very sad phenomena in the past few years." Cai Ziqiang pointed out that the Department of Political Science has produced many political talents in the past. One of his interests is In each District Council election, online and on-site visits to the electoral engineering of Politics graduates during the election period.

"These young people are full of vigor and creativity. I talked to them and they have a lot of aspirations for politics. They really make good use of what they have learned in the department and hope to apply what they have learned to politics." However, in the past two years , Cai Ziqiang watched with his own eyes some of the former students were DQ, forced to resign one by one, and some even left.

In contrast, Cai Ziqiang said that he knew some students who had helped elect some political newcomers to the restructured Legislative Council, but privately lamented that "their propaganda is completely unacceptable", and they tended to be "slogan-style political steel". , It's all those words that go on and on, but this is the helplessness of the real political environment.

I deeply feel that young people are being stifled and their ideals are being shattered

Another example, he knows some colleagues in the School of Communication and has taught many outstanding students, but the media industry has been turned upside down in the past few years, and the pressure has increased. Luckily, one after another lost their jobs and changed their employers.

As a teacher, I can't help shaking my head and sighing.

Cai Ziqiang pointed out that these young people did nothing wrong, they just believed in the value of human rights and freedom, but they had just made their debut and joined the society, and they had to face such a fate: "As a teacher, I have seen some students who are obviously talented, ambitious and capable. You should be happy if you apply what you have learned.” Cai Ziqiang paused for a while, lowered his head and pondered, as if weighing whether to continue, and then continued: “But we have seen constantly over the past two years, their ideals are being Crushed, a whole generation killed. How can you not feel sad? Why do they have to face such a rough fate at such a young age?"

Don't be optimistic or pessimistic about the future "or have some hope that you haven't seen yet"

In traditional Chinese culture, there is a so-called "Confucianism and Taoism complement each other", which means that when intellectuals are proud, they follow Confucianism and "join the WTO", and when they are excellent in their studies, they will serve as officials, and they will show their strengths in political affairs; When it was dark, he would succumb to the inaction of the Taoist family, and like Tao Yuanming, he would return to the garden and live in the fields, looking for spiritual sustenance.

Cai Ziqiang pointed out with a wry smile that in the past few years, he has indeed deeply felt this change in mentality: "Confucianism is about 'cultivating oneself, aligning the family, governing the country, and bringing peace to the world'; Daoist. When I was a child, I couldn't understand the behavior of the 'Seven Sages in the Bamboo Forest' at all, but I have begun to understand it in the past few years. You can understand the background of the Wei and Jin Dynasties." He pointed out that of course, this does not mean that he will be like a bamboo forest. Qixian is so indulgent and makes absurd acts like Ruan Xian "drinking with a group of pigs", but he will understand them a little more.

In this way, Cai Ziqiang urged young people to be familiar with history, know their own limitations, and understand that the historical development process is always full of variables, so they should neither be optimistic nor pessimistic about the situation: "I used to think that I was a 'strategist'. He is good at deliberation and likes to analyze the overall situation. But as he gets older, he will eventually find that many things cannot be calculated, so he will learn to be humble. The world is far more complicated than we imagined, and there may be some historical inflection points, not We can see it at this time with our current wisdom. Therefore, we must not easily say that we are very hopeful or hopeless about the future of Hong Kong. It is indeed a period of relative discouragement, but there may be some hope that we are now Couldn't see it."

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Cai Ziqiang has been in the academic world for many years, and he is very familiar with local political commentary. He rarely shows a sad side in interviews.

But in addition to being sad, he could not help but speak his mind and try his best to remind young people to review the inadequacies of the democratic movement in the past.

For more details, please look forward to the next article.

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Source: hk1

All news articles on 2022-01-15

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