Dr. Christine Loh Kung-wai JP OBE is Under Secretary for the Environment in Hong Kong. She is a former Legislative Councillor, founder and CEO of policy think tank Civic Exchange, founder of the Citizens Party, and founder of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor. Dr. Loh is the author of Underground Front: The Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong (2010).
Why I write
I write because I am in the ‘thinking’ business. I run a policy think tank in Hong Kong. Tools of the trade includes writing and presenting.
Do you write every day? If so, how many hours?
I don’t write every day, but I write every week. I have two fortnightly columns in two Hong Kong newspapers, so I end up writing something every week. I also write other things for magazines, conference papers and also from time to time academic papers.
Worst source of distraction?
Meetings and more meetings!
Best source of inspiration?
Sleep. Once I start to slow down, I stop and go to sleep. When I wake up and am fresh, I write much faster.
How often do you get writers’ block/doubt your own ability?
I seldom have blockage. Sometimes I write more slowly because I a trying to still structure what I write – I am one of those writers who sit and write rather than plan and then write. Usually, the writing flows reasonably well. The fact that I write fast doesn’t mean I write well. I have little literary flair but I write clearly enough.
Contemporary writer in any medium who you never miss?
I like reading all sorts of things whether it is long – indeed, very long (but it has to be good) or a short blog. What I don’t like is unfocused blurb. I stop reading then.
Favorite Chinese writer?
Lu Xun – his work is provocative and irreverent!
Best book about China?
Hard to say… there are so many books I have read and I can’t really answer this question.
The Hobbit by Tolkien. I loved it as a child. It was a book that really had been stuck to the pages from first to last page.
Anita Bruckner. She writes the kind of novels where nothing happens except the emotions of a few individuals. She is a superb writer of inner angst of the English.
The book you should have read but haven’t?
The Dream of the Red Chamber!
You look back at the first thing you had published and think…
It was shockingly decent but then I had co-authored it with a friend. He had the idea, which we debated and I polished it. The first thing I had published was this piece of legal analysis of an aspect of company law! It was published in the Hong Kong Law Journal in the early 1980s!
How did you get started writing?
I just did. I never really enjoyed writing when I was young but I wrote fast and adequately so whenever I had to write something, I just sat down and did it.
Does writing change anything?
Yes. It requires a lot more understanding of the subject. I find writing an exact and demanding process but afterward I always feel I learned something. Having learned something makes me feel good.