DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Hong Kong and the Day of Reckoning

Written by: on September 13, 2018

If you dance to the music, don’t you know you have to pay to the piper, is a question asked in an old song.  This song references the story of the pied piper who gets rid of rats in a town by playing on a flute.  As the story goes, once the rats are gone, the town people refuse to pay the pied piper, who consequently, plays the flute to take away all of the children of the town as payment.

The British Empire decided to expand its territories in the East by negotiating with what it believed to be a weaker opponent, China.  When the British negotiated the Treaty of Nanking, the conditions for bilateral relations were not mutually satisfactory (Tsang 2011, 14).  The British demanded the right to trade opium, which was reprehensible to the Chinese. The rule of law, which was the pride of the British legal system, was administered unfairly with racism and cultural superiority (Tsang 2011, 46). Overall, the system favored the British in almost every way.  However, the Chinese agreed to only lease the land to the British for 99 years. The short-sighted British viewed this 99-year lease as an eternity, never really believing that payment would one day be required.

It is easy to find fault with the colonialism of the British Empire, and indeed there is much to dislike. The selling of the highly addictive opium to the Chinese to build the economy of Great Britain was pure greed and evil.  Many of Great Britain’s most storied companies, such as Jardines, has its history embedded in the opium drug trade. Sadly, this drug trade is still a part of every major Western capitalistic society and is destroying the very countries that fueled the drug trade.

Today the illegal drug trade represents a global problem. Wealthy, drug consuming countries are essentially destroying the economies of the smaller, drug producing countries that try to satisfy the demand for illegal drugs. The production of illegal drugs is more profitable for many countries than the production of legal crops. Even some of our immigration problems in the United States of America can be linked to the illegal drug trade.

Also, the very system that made Hong Kong one of the most capitalistic economies in the World, is the source of economic power in China today (Day 1984, 627).  There is an enormous financial benefit and gain by Hong Kong being a great financial center for China today (Day 1984, 644).  China’s ability to wait the 99 years plus a few more, for the transition of power, shows that the British Empire is certainly having its day of reckoning.

Although we can be critical of the way that Hong Kong was developed, we are often blind to the development of sin in our own societies, religious institutions, and even our lives.  We create systems in our churches and society that corrupt the very values we say we hold dear. Our church and political leaders are chosen on the basis of charisma and smooth speech rather than substance and character.  The traditions of mankind outweigh what the Bible teaches is right, and our churches are just as split over values as our society. We use prosperity as a sign of God’s blessing and confirmation that we are doing what is right. Often, we shun the poor as those with not enough faith to receive God’s blessings.

However, Isaiah 2:12 says, “For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning Against everyone who is proud and lofty And against everyone who is lifted up, That he may be abased.”  The sins of colonialism is nothing more than the sin of pride that can be found within the human heart of the people that run our countries. We all must realize that we never get by with sin.  Sin has long-lasting consequences that last much longer than the little pleasure it gives. Sin is the piper that makes us pay in the end.  All of the riches provided by the immoral gains of the drug trade are lost by the overall cost to our society in the loss of lives and destruction of communities.

Yet we are not without hope; the Bible still beckons us to turn to Christ.  Isaiah 1:18 says, ““Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.” Real change in our society, our institutions, begins with an individual change of heart. As we each reconcile ourselves to Christ, we can begin to show that Christ desires to reconcile the world to Himself.

References

 

Day, Christian C. “The Recovery of Hong Kong by the People’s Republic of China – A Fifty Year Experiment in Capitalism and Freedom.” Syracuse Journal of International Law & Commerce, Vol. 11, 1984: 625-649.

Tsang, Steve. A Modern History of Hong Kong. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

 

About the Author

mm

Mary Mims

I am a licensed and ordained Baptist minister and have worked with the children and youth for the last seven years. I have resided in the Washington, DC area for the last 30 years, but I am originally from Michigan. I am also bi-vocational and work at the US Patent and Trademark Office in the Scientific Library.

8 responses to “Hong Kong and the Day of Reckoning”

  1. Mario Hood says:

    Thanks, Mary for the wonderful post. It is SO easy to look at the faults and sins of others and forget our own. My pastor is in a series now that is focused on this very subject and is calling our church to repentance before we call the “sinners” to repentance. Jesus said it perfectly (as He does all things) when he said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye (Matt. 7:3 ESV)? Situational blindness has become an epidemic in the church and as you pointed out Isaiah 1:18 is a key verse for us to live out in these times.

  2. mm Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Much of what I thought while I read this book you spell out so eloquently here. While Hong Kong is such a global financial center, Tsang even references how it has competed with Shanghai for the last two centuries, which has been free from British control. My hope is like yours, we learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before, to make wiser, healthier, more faithful choices as global citizens in the future.

  3. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    This is such an important reminder, Mary. We just concluded a diversity summit and our final session found us on our knees humbling ourselves realizing that change doesn’t start with structures and systems, it starts with the heart. It begins with me. I also appreciate your attention on our theology versus our practice. We do not always layer our theological statements across practical situations to consider their impact broadly, yet they have huge implications. It seems it is the result of segregation of theology from the streets to see how it really works when lived out. Thank you!

    • mm Mary Mims says:

      Tammy, I think the program is playing a vital role in helping us learn about diversity and other people. Overall, it shows that the world needs Jesus. We all need to be on our knees.

  4. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Hello Mary. Thanks for the views. I have a couple of questions after reading your reflections that I think are worth pondering. First, given that the concept of empire is not new in human history, in what way did the British empire differ from say that of the Roman empire, or the expansion of Russian interests in the revolutionary era, or for that matter, the German desire for European conquest in the early 19th century? Ironically, all three of these nations have Judeo-Christian roots. Likewise, America has an equally expansionist worldview through treaties and trade negotiations. How are all this different from one another? There’s a PhD in there.
    Second, one of your comments comment got me thinking: “The short-sighted British viewed this 99-year lease as an eternity, never really believing that payment would one day be required.” What would the alternative have been? And why was it short-sighted? We can’t generally see beyond the horizon of our lifetime.
    Third, the drug trade you mentioned was not illegal in Britain at the time as the aristocracy used Opium with impunity, which, in turn, determined its financial value in the UK. That poses a broader question, “When running a country or colony or settlement, is morality defined by the law, the opinion of specific groups, or outcomes of variable human behaviour?
    It’s not in my nature to be an optimist, but my reading of global statistics is that critical Christian influences worldwide (despite our behaviours) has made and continues to make, the world a better, safer, more humane and educated place. I wonder if the British approach to trade negotiation and settlement in Hong Kong was a sign of progess that has continued internationally. That doesn’t mean we won’t screw it up – after all, we’re just a little sinful.

  5. mm Mary Mims says:

    Digby, you bring some interesting questions. First, you ask, “in what way did the British empire differ from say that of the Roman empire, or the expansion of Russian interests in the revolutionary era, or for that matter, the German desire for European conquest in the early 19th century?” I would answer that it is not much different. But I would answer that question with another; what right did the British Empire have to demand anything from China? What right did all of the Germans, Americans, Portuguese have to decide to carve up China, as was their intention? I would say none! Imperialist Theology says that God has given us a right to rule another because He somehow favors us because we are Christians (and better). This my friend, is not the example of Christianity I see in the Bible. If the Christians had not been so tied up with the Imperialist in China, maybe they would have been able to reach China with the gospel. As to opium trade being legal, so was slavery, but we know something being legal does not make it moral. Do you really believe that the British did not know that opium was addictive? It’s time we learn from the past and see the behaviors that hindered the spread of Christianity in the world. Imperialism was not of God, and when it is connected with Christianity, it will always cause Christianity to be rejected. I do not want to write a thesis here, but I have referenced an interesting article, that might be worth looking at in all your spare time.

    Reference

    Cook, Richard. “Overcoming Mission Guilt.” In After Imperialism, by Richard R. Cook, & David Pao, 35-45. The Lutterworth Press, 2012.

  6. mm Karen Rouggly says:

    Mary – great post! I appreciated your reminder to step outside of our own perspective and recognize, as Mario mentioned, the plank in our own eye. That’s why I believe so much in the power of exposure to new stories, new identities, new people groups, etc. for all people. It was only through my own personal experiences where I had my eyes opened to new cultures that I realized the challenges and faults in my own. I am excited to see how the exposure to the culture in Hong Kong makes me think differently about my own!

  7. mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Hi Mary. Powerful post ~ thanks for sharing. I especially appreciated your paragraph about ‘the sin of colonialism is nothing more than the sin of pride.’ It is true that pride can be found in most humans and often even more so in the people who run our countries. It is without question that ‘sin is the piper that makes us pay in the end.’ Yet, hope is the desire – and faith is the way! Thanks for sharing, Mary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *