THE PAST TWO weeks of turmoil and instability to hit Hong Kong has been a saddening sight. Whilst I am happy to see my generation in Hong Kong have such a deep interest in politics and fight so peacefully for the democracy they wish to obtain, it is nonetheless alarming and saddening to see how the younger generation’s true and honest original political aspirations have been distorted by the Occupy Central campaign. What has my hometown become?
As a Japanese and Chinese national who was born and raised here in Hong Kong, I have always been aware of the long standing tensions between Hong Kong people and the Chinese people. Since repatriation of Hong Kong into China as a Special Administration Region (SAR), the cultural and ideological divide between us, the people of Hong Kong and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has only increased.
However, we have enjoyed economic growth and stability during this period of time, thanks to China’s enormous population and its purchasing power. The events of the past fortnight have quickly made it apparent to me that we seem to have forgotten where our food, resources and finally economic stability come from. It’s true, we are perfectly entitled to take to the streets and protest our discontent towards the government. Still, I question whether this was the only viable option of discourse that we, the people of Hong Kong, had at our disposal.
Suffrage or Suffering?
While one may have the right to protest, what gives the right to put all 7 million lives within Hong Kong at risk for your political cause? The answer is nothing. What started as a peaceful student movement quickly escalated into a city-wide riot, the Hong Kong Police’s unexpectedly violent response towards the protesters led to the massive increase in the numbers of people on the streets. While the international community has been led to believe that everyone on the streets was protesting for universal suffrage, the reality was far more multifaceted, with many people taking to the streets instead to condemn the police force’s actions.
“Last night can be best summed up as a mob mentality with those people involved in the observations above (not the protesters as a whole.) It was a sort of social contagion where a concept or idea (in this case about the police) spread like wildfire once it had been stated.” – Ulf Olufsson, resident of Hong Kong.
The above quote taken from the following article written by a resident of Hong Kong whilst may not be definitive proof, it is definitely enough to demonstrate that the mob of protesters were not entirely united and fighting for the same political aspirations. Some people were merely on the streets because they disagreed with the police’s violent reaction. There is no justification for this; the police force were forced into action by the behavior of the protesters. Charging at the police with your arms held up is not a definition of peaceful protesting, and to have 50,000 people take to the streets because eighty seven tear gas grenades were used to disperse the crowd is to me a ridiculous overreaction. Where were these 50,000 people when ISIS was beheading innocent women and children in Syria?
Not so peaceful
Further, I question whether this was a “peaceful” protest and the right of the protesters to take authorities into their own hands. The protesters barricaded specific MTR exits in order to cause the greatest disturbance to the general public, hindering the morning commuter’s abilities to get to work to maintain their lives.
They searched police lunchboxes and vehicles in efforts to prevent them from transporting ammunition and supplies. They barricaded streets and refused to allow commuters through. Their actions alienated many citizens who didn’t support their cause, whilst continuously asking for the peoples’ understanding. Though claiming to be peaceful, these protestors did nothing but violate the lives of the Hong Kong people. Income and revenue were lost and, in one extreme case, a family was unable to reach their relative during her final moments due to the unexpected traffic standstill caused by the protest.
The protest has divided the city at every level. Multiple organizations in Hong Kong have split divisions due to the split opinions on the protest. The emergence of the Pro-Beijing/Hong Kong Police Force ‘blue ribbon’ supporters and anti-occupation citizen mobs is equally disturbing, as they took matters into their own hands and attempted to clear the streets themselves.
The result was painful to watch on the news, as I witnessed many violent and underhanded tactics used against the protestors by these “anti-occupation mobs”; skulls were bashed, students were beaten and girls were openly sexually harassed. This sort of behavior should not be tolerated.
Nonetheless, I can understand the feelings of anger towards the protesters. Why should 6 million people suffer for the political aspirations of a confused minority within our population? Those who have taken to the streets have claimed they are fighting for a brighter future. Yet I believe they have been incredibly short sighted in their vision for their fight for democracy.
The discord and chaos created by the protest is enough evidence for me to personally condemn these demonstrations, and feel pity for those who have been persuaded onto the streets without clearly understanding the situation.
Without a doubt there is a minority group of protesters out there fighting for “universal suffrage” and nothing else. But my own personal experience with some of these “Yellow ribbon” supporters has confirmed my theory that many of them are merely bandwagoning on to the protest because they dislike the CCP rather than because they have a thirst for democracy.
Fight the long fight
I believe that if our generation is really so passionate about the fight for democracy, then we should realize that the fight for democracy against communism is a long one. Although it may seem like all hope is lost, we MUST look BEYOND our own futures and look towards the generations down the line. The CCP may not be ready to give us democracy now, but who knows what would happen in 50 years? I firmly believe that the only course of action we should take is to negotiate with China to extend the existence of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region beyond 2047, if we do not obtain an extension whatever political concessions we obtain during this time could prove to be useless. As China would still have the executive power to tear down all that we have built in 2047.
The extension of the HKSAR beyond 2047 is paramount: once HKSAR is dissolved it will be assimilated into China. All that once made us stand out to international businesses and investors will disappear, we will become “another” city in China and fail to compete with the power of Beijing and Shanghai. This is why I urge all of you who are protesting on the streets to look beyond our life times and fight for the future of our children. If we continue to occupy the streets and undermine our government, China will have the perfect excuse to take back what it wants, rather than patiently wait out the 50-year transition period we managed to obtain back in 1997.
Without any raw military power or natural resources, the reality is that our government is powerless against the might of the CCP. Our food, our energy supply, our materials and resources for production are all from China. The reality is China doesn’t need to invade or break international law to hurt us. They can just cut off the power and leave us to it.
We are destined to lose the war for democracy as long as the HKSAR has an expiration date. Rather than infuriate China through grassroots movements that have done nothing but divided our city at every level, we must recognize the situation and regroup for a new direction.
Written by Takashi Nakamura
Images taken from Instagram