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Feature: From "no feeling" to "loving": a Hong Kong civil servant's sentiment on motherland

HONG KONG, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Over 20 years ago, at the night of Hong Kong returning to the motherland and being no longer a British colony, Ma Chi-sing, a civil servant, did not feel much difference in his heart.

His life remained unchanged and so did his work. He and his colleagues continued to use the paper with a crown on it, and everything seemed to be the same as before.

"When I became a civil servant, I was told to be loyal to the British Queen," Ma said. "I didn't have the concept of China as my country then."

"Hong Kong returned to the motherland in 1997, but many of us didn't have the feeling of returning at that time," he said.

Ma was admitted to Hong Kong's Water Supplies Department in 1992. Before that, he studied at a Catholic middle school and majored in civil engineering at Hong Kong Polytechnic. Like his schoolmates, Ma did not know much about the Chinese history after the Opium War.

"We weren't taught the subject at school and no one at home talked about that," he said. "People only cared about their incomes."

Ma's ancestral home is in Huiyang, Guangdong Province. In his few memories of visiting his grandmother in his early years, the hometown was nothing wonderful or special to him. "I remember we went across the Lo Wu checkpoint (to enter the mainland). The other side is bleak. The bridge linked two totally different worlds."

His change started after he joined the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions. He began to read about the Chinese history, visit the mainland many times, exchange ideas with other people, and learned more about the country.

"I used to believe the 'China Collapse' theory, which was widely reported in western and Hong Kong's newspapers. But 10 years passed and 20 years passed, our country has become better and better," Ma said. "It was the fact, the national development that changed me."

Ma has made countless trips to the mainland in recent years, and almost every time he was surprised by the mainland's rapid development.

During a trip to the mountainous Guizhou Province in 2018, he was awed by the five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world's largest single-dish radio telescope. He also found that the local ethnic people in Guizhou were leading a good life, unlike some media said. "I could see the happiness from their smiles," he said.

After the long journey of building a sense of national identity, Ma did not hesitate to sign his signature to swear to uphold the Basic Law and bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government.

"I was very glad to see the document," he said.

In fact, Ma had repeatedly appealed to the HKSAR government that Hong Kong's civil servants should confirm their love of the country and Hong Kong through oath-taking or signing.

Ma stressed the necessity of the move as he still clearly remembered the unprecedented chaos in Hong Kong in 2019 and was saddened at the involvement of some civil servants. Some were even arrested for participating in violent incidents.

He believes the oath-taking requirement was only the first step of a greater mission of improving the national concept of civil servants.

He suggested the HKSAR government to promote exchanges between the mainland and Hong Kong's civil servants and encourage more civil servants to see with their own eyes the development of the country.

"Seeing is believing," he said.

[ Editor: WXL ]