（此文章由 WE ARE HKERS 團隊採訪）
翻譯：誌 HK Feature
影片攝影師：Yellow Shy Guy, Crazy Man
影片編輯：KJ, Skyhorse Creative
我的父親是一個工人，母親是一個主婦。爸爸在二十歲的時候為了逃離文化大革命和所引致的大飢荒來港。 當時，英國殖民政府向成功潛逃邊境的人發放了香港身份證， 因此父親能在香港開展新生活。至於我的母親則在中國內地停留了更長的時間，最終決定在我出生後秘密來港照顧我。
我的父母出身自中國大陸，故視自己為移居香港的中國人，而不是香港人。我和其他年青人都曾抱過類似看法，尤其是當二零零八年的北京奧運令我們相信中國有一天會成為一個成功並富足的國家。 然而，香港的年輕人此後比較重視保留自身的文化傳統 ，他們稱之為「集體回憶」。他們認為，自從九七年香港回歸中國以來，這些元素已經漸漸地消失了。這些回憶逐漸演變成他們對香港的歸屬感。香港不再是以個「賺快錢」然後就可以轉身離開的地方，這個是屬於「我們」的地方，然後我們想將這個地方變得更好。在香港，包括我自己在內的許多年輕人中都湧現了為這種歸屬感而戰的渴望。
儘管我是海外英國國民，直到來倫敦攻讀政治經濟學碩士學位之前，我內心從來不承認自己的英國國籍。我在倫敦進修期間，聽到不少有關維權人士在中國受到迫害的故事，啟發我從事政治相關工作，去幫助香港人和世界上其他受壓逼的人。 但是，後來我意識到我作為香港人的身份意味著我不能從事英國外交職位的工作 。 同時，我很難參與香港政治，因為我不得不犧牲自己的其他職業選擇。
我在深圳被捕後，我總覺得國家安全局打算對我進行政治檢控，並迫使我承認英國有參與香港的社會運動。相反，他們決定指控我「涉嫌嫖妓」。 這令我鬆了一口氣，因為這表明他們尚未決定是否可以對我進行政治檢控。 這給了我希望，覺得是時機尋求被釋放，並讓外面的人向政府施加壓力，要求他們放我走。
這次經歷也使我明白到中國幾十年來沒有發生變化。 文化大革命期間，在毛澤東的統治下，地主和反革命分子將被批鬥。發生在我身上的事情只是這種另類版本的「文化式批鬥」。 中國政府為了讓你的仕途和社交圈子受到影響，就會用嫖妓等指控拘捕你，損害你的名聲。只是因為我質疑「一國兩制」，他們就標籤我為 「反中國」份子。他們也指我支持港獨和台獨，雖則我從來沒有如此表態。他們既然沒有辦法囚禁我，就用盡一切方法阻礙我去參與政治。
我不確定是否可以再次與家人交談。 英國大使館的成員告訴我，一旦我被列在中國政府的名單上，我和家人將長期有安全風險。我的家人不希望被騷擾，我建議他們搬去倫敦或者台灣，好讓他們可以看見我，但他們只是想獨自留在屯門過著自己的生活。 我希望有一天我們能夠彼此團聚，無論未來多麼黯淡，我仍然希望，因為沒有它，我只會剩下內疚。我選擇說出來、決定對抗，爭取民主和自由。 可是，隨著事情的發展損害了我的家庭，這就是我最內疚的。
我經歷過酷刑、單獨監禁，但我捱過了。儘管我現在面對敵對我的國家和媒體，但我會接受。 我願意接受。 我犧牲了我的家人、職業生涯和人身安全來發聲。我大聲疾呼，但我不後悔，我要向世界揭穿這個只會懲罰說真話的人的制度。
Simon Cheng | A Whistleblower’s Conviction – Never Give Up On Freedom Of Speech
Simon Cheng, 29, is a former employee of the UK Consulate in Hong Kong. In August 2019, he was detained and tortured by Chinese authorities while being accused of inciting pro-democracy protests.
Having been forced to confess to soliciting prostitution, he was released following international pressure and now lives in exile in the UK.
I chose to speak out. I chose to stand up to the authorities, for democracy and for freedom. However, it has come at the expense of my family, and that is what I feel most guilty about. – Simon Cheng
Journalist: ：Calum Muirhead
Videographer: Yellow Shy Guy, Crazy Man
Video Editor: KJ, Skyhorse Creative
My father was a manual worker, and my mother was a housekeeper. My father fled to Hong Kong in his 20s to escape the Cultural Revolution [*1] and the famine that it caused. At the time, British Hong Kong granted a Hong Kong identity card to those who successfully snuck past the border, and that was why my father was able to settle in the city and begin a new life. My mother, meanwhile, stayed in mainland China for longer but ultimately decided to secretly come to Hong Kong to take care of me after I was born.
I lived my entire life in Tuen Mun, an area located in the New Territories[*2] with tall mountains, and I spent a lot of time hiking with my father, as well as swimming in the local lakes. My father also enjoyed feeding the local bees to get honey, and at one point, we even rented a small farm to grow fresh vegetables.
My hometown also makes a special dish called Tuen Mun sticky noodles; nowhere in the world could I find anything that tastes as good as those noodles. I am part of a new generation of HongKongers who were born here in a new life my family built when they fled from the mainland. My father worked several jobs throughout my childhood, including making toys and being a plumber tradesman. He did this for almost 20 years. We always had to work hard to get by, but gradually, because of my parents’ hard work and sacrifice, our standard of living improved, and my two sisters and I were able to change our destiny through education.
PRESERVING ‘COLLECTIVE MEMORY’
My parents, being from mainland China, mainly focused on the immigrant society of Hong Kong and, as such, viewed their identity as Chinese rather than a Hongkonger. Other young people and I held similar views, particularly in 2008, when the Beijing Olympics made us more confident that China would be successful and wealthy as a nation. However, since then, Hongkongers, especially the young, are more concerned with preserving their own heritage; they call it their ‘collective memory’, which they believe is being removed in dribs and drabs since Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997[*3]. This has gradually morphed into a sense of belonging to this place; a sense of belonging to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is not just a place to make quick money and leave; it is a place that belongs to us, and we must make it better. It is the desire to fight for this sense of belonging that has emerged among many young people in Hong Kong, including myself.
MAKING A CHOICE – WORKING FOR THE UK
Despite being a British National Overseas[*4], I never internalised my British nationality until I came to London to pursue a master’s degree in political economy. Back then, I was touched by multiple stories of human rights advocates suffering persecution in China during my time in London, and it sparked my desire to engage in politics to help both Hongkongers and others suffering around the world. However, I later realised that my identity as a Hongkonger meant that I could not work in a UK diplomatic post. At the same time, it was difficult for me to get involved in Hong Kong politics, as I would have to sacrifice my other career options.
I was therefore forced to make a choice around what work I could do to help Hong Kong despite my restrictions. I also saw international business as a way to try and help my city using my skills without getting involved in politics directly. This was how I ended up representing Scottish businesses and investors to China through the UK consulate. While I cannot be a diplomat, I thought I could still use my economic background to help Hongkongers in another way.
Following my arrest in Shenzhen[*5], I always had a sense that the state security services intended to charge me politically and force me to confess to British involvement in the Hong Kong protest movement. Instead, they decided to charge me with soliciting prostitution. I found this something of a relief as it showed that they had not decided whether they could charge me for political crimes as they intended. It gave me hope that there was now time for me to try and secure my release and for those outside to pressure the government to let me go.
I do not know of any civilised country that treats suspects in the fashion that I was treated. The secret police will use all means at their disposal to try and force people to confess to trumped-up charges. I am not regretful for the confession I made, because I now realise that the outcome could have been worse and it also allowed me to access medical treatment during my time in detention. However, confession means I am still subject to bullying, both by netizens and the Chinese state media. Nonetheless, forcibly admitting to a false crime may have saved me from political charges and a harsher penalty.
My experience also made me realise that China has not changed over the decades. Under Mao’s ruling, landlords, “counter-revolutionaries”, and others would be profiled to whip up public anger against them. What happened to me was just a subtly-disguised version of that. Using charges such as soliciting prostitution are ways the Chinese government try to undermine your career and social life. They try to destroy your reputation so others will not listen to you. They label me as anti-China because I have criticised ‘one country, two systems’. They have also said I support the independence of Hong Kong and Taiwan, even though I have never made such statements. It is all part of their intention to block any attempt I make to have a political career, as they were not able to imprison me to prevent it.
If my family and my girlfriend had not told my story to the international media, I am not sure that I would have been released. At the time, some in my family were worried that telling my story would have made my situation worse, but if they had not, I could have disappeared forever. My family and friends in mainland China have come under intense pressure as a result of their relationships with me, to the point that they no longer tell anyone that they ever knew me. I also took photos down from social media to protect my friends from retaliation both by the Chinese state government and netizens.
Comforting to some extent, I still would receive supportive messages from friends in mainland China saying that they l believe my story; however, they would never come out and defend me publicly. My mother has also asked me why I was so public about my experience to the international media. She called me and asked, “Why did you have to do it? Do you have to speak about it so much?” I can sympathise with her mentality, as she is the only member of my immediate family to have relatives on the mainland. While she did not admit it, I fear that her family may have been under the watch of the Chinese secret police. It is for their safety that I decided to publicly cut ties with my family. I want to make sure that the Chinese authorities will not harass my family anymore. It was a tough decision, but it was necessary.
AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
I’m not sure whether I will be able to talk to my family again. Members of the UK embassy have told me that once I am on the list of the Chinese authorities, I face long-term risks for myself and my family’s safety. My family also does not like to be bothered; I have suggested that they move to either London or Taiwan so they can see me again, but they just want to be left alone in Tuen Mun to live their lives. I hope that we can reunite with each other someday, and no matter how bleak the future is, I still have hope, since without it, I would be left with guilt. I chose to speak out; I decided to stand up to the authorities, for democracy and for freedom. However, as things have unfolded at the expense of my family, and that is what I feel most guilty about.
HONGKONGERS, ‘HANG IN THERE’
I am not the only Hongkongers who have been kidnapped and gone missing without an explanation. To those who are still fighting for the truth, I will say, ‘hang in there’.
I have been tortured. I have been put into solitary confinement, but I got through it, and although I now face a hostile state and hostile media, I will take it. I am willing to take it. I have sacrificed my family, my career, and my personal safety to speak out. I do not regret it, and I want to show the world the details of the system that I and others have suffered for the sake of speaking the truth.
And if you believe in the importance of freedom of speech, you should never ever give up.
I am Simon Cheng, I am a HKer.
[*1] The Cultural Revolution was a period of social and political upheaval in Communist China between 1966 and 1976 that is estimated to have killed up to 20 million people
[*2] The New Territories include a region of wetlands, parks and mountains in northern Hong Kong, bordering the People’s Republic of China, as well as several outlying islands such as Lantau in the southwest
[*3] Hong Kong was transferred from British to Chinese rule in 1997
[*4] British National Overseas (BNO) is a class of UK citizenship that was offered to Hong Kong residents after the 1997 transfer of the territory to China. Although BNOs are UK nationals, they do not have an automatic right to live in the UK
[*5] In August 2019, Cheng was abducted by Chinese authorities in Shenzhen and held in detention for 15 days