This week has been pretty mundane. I popped for a few runs with my sister, headed to a Pilates class, worked on my blog and got up to date with my accounts (tax bill paid, and 2017 tax remuneration received!). However, over in my adopted hometown of beautiful Hong Kong, it’s been anything but mundane.
So this week I’m stepping aside from the usual Sundaze format and talking about the current political and social climate in Hong Kong, and my thoughts on it all.
Grab a coffee because this might get lengthy…
How the June 2019 protests unfolded in Hong Kong
In June 2019, thousands of protestors gathered in defiance of a controversial extradition bill that Chief Executive Carrie Lam had proposed to pass. When the United Kingdom ‘handed’ Hong Kong back to China, as well as taking on the title of Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong was then able to exist under China in a ‘one countries, two systems’ rule. The extradition bill not only went against that rule, but it also defied the collective wishes of the Hong Kong public.
Understandably, they didn’t want crimes to be tried outside of Hong Kong. The extradition bill sought to apply to locals, expats and visiting tourists. Given the tumultuous battle that is known now as the ‘Umbrella Movement’, it baffled me and almost 2 million Hong Kong locals and expats, and finally Carrie Lam agreed to momentarily step down from passing the bill. But she did not rule it out.
The peaceful protests (Hong Kongers chose to protest by wearing one colour – the visual impact was absolutely incredible – and by occupying the business and government districts) continued, vying for Carrie Lam to withdraw completely and oppose China’s increasing influence on the country. But she did not rule it out, again.
It’s now August and what I see on the news both via the BBC and TVB is distressing, unbelievable and heartbreaking. So-called gangsters beating locals with metal poles and baseball bats. The police taking cues from the government to respond with violence. Innocent bystanders and non-protestors getting caught in the crossfire. I’d urge you to have a short scroll through the Hong Kong hashtag on Twitter right now to get a view of what is happening from non-media sources.
So, what are my thoughts?
My heart is breaking. Hong Kong is a country I hold dearly to my heart. I visit pretty much annually and have done since I was a toddler, as Mum is from Hong Kong. I lived there for two formative years in my twenties and fell deeply in with the city. The locals, and Mum’s side of the family of course fall into this category, are wonderful and it’s clear to anybody that visits the city that they work endlessly for themselves and to foster a better spirit in the country.
For pro-democracy protests to result in such violent responses is shameful. Sure, the protestors occupying roads and wearing black might be disrupting some of the roads. Hong Kong is pretty fruitful in its public transport, and it certainly isn’t the fault of protestors that many routes have been blocked by police and gangsters.
The Chinese media have focused much on the few instances that protestors have ‘retaliated’ or protected themselves them beatings, tear gas and other brutal tactics, but failed to show that Hong Kongers are peacefully protesting again, wanting to create impact and rightfully stand up for their rights.
As a British-Chinese woman currently living in the UK, I feel helpless. I’ve sent a letter pre-written by Amnesty International. I’ve shared as much as I can on Instagram Stories. I’m WhatsApped ‘add oil’ to my friends in Hong Kong.
It’s stunningly shocking and dismaying that the United Kingdom haven’t done more to alleviate the situation. Did we really ‘hand’ Hong Kong over to China and then forget about them? Where are our hearts? Right now, I don’t plan on stopping my frequent RTs on Twitter of the events in HK and I plan to do as much as someone can from the other side of the globe.
If you’re interested in supporting the pro-democracy protests, please head to Amnesty International’s dedicated page. And if you’d like to learn more about the ‘Umbrella Movement’ back during the 2014 Hong Kong protests, the Joshua Wong documentary on Netflix is a moving watch.