The Hong Kong report – part #1
If you are looking for part #2 – click this link.
(For more information about the interview and a disclaimer, check here.)
Date of the interview: September 12, 2019
Interviewee: Chris, 26 years old, born in Hong Kong.
Global Game, Question #1. What are your most important demands and your personal view about them?
Full withdrawal of the extradition bill
A commission of inquiry into alleged police brutality
Chris: They violate regulations and lost control already. They have to be investigated and put back under control. If they do nothing wrong, why are they afraid of the investigation by a third party?
Retracting the classification of protesters as “rioters”
Chris: The beginning of the movement was really peaceful, but people got arrested anyway.
Amnesty for arrested protesters
Chris: It is important but not absolute, some people can be arrested as they really violate the law. They are prepared for it.
Dual universal suffrage, meaning for both the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive
Chris: This is important, Hong Kong people have to choose their own chief executive. We understand it is not guaranteed that our own choice is the best. But at least it will be our choice.
2. Is it true that young people are not able to afford a flat? Is it true that even pretty good-earning people are not able to buy an apartment? Is it true that because of the high prices of flats (comparing to salaries) a lot of young people have to live with their parents? Does it affect you severely? Do you feel that it’s blocking your outlook for development and stable life, e.g. having a family? Is it one of the essential issues that push you to protests?
It is true that it is nearly impossible for young people to afford an apartment, yet, it is not impossible. Let’s say, a diploma holder at age 26, earning average 30k HKD a month can save money together with his partner and afford to make a down payment at the age of around 30. And they will have to keep paying till they are 50 -60 years old (in theory – GG). It really affects me and some of my friends when thinking about life planning, for example, getting married. Just imagine that you have no place to have sex with a girl. In addition, the traditional concept of Chinese family means we need an apartment to build our own families.
However, I do not see the protests are happening mainly due to this. Rather, it is mainly caused by no confidence in Chinese government, and we believe once the bill is passed, Hong Kong could lose its advantages over other cities.
Some of my friends have their own apartments already (bought by their parents) and they are still joining protests. We have seen too much of how Chinese government works and we fear living in such atmosphere. See below for examples:
Causeway Bay Books disappearances
Death of Li WangYang
Li Gang Incident
There are too many to mention, we do not want to live in such an atmosphere, where you have no way to understand what is right and wrong, where your family and friends can be hurt at any time and there are no measures to protect them. We believe once the extradition law is passed, Hong Kong could become just another Chinese city. Just think about it, is it why international companies invest in Hong Kong?
3. Do you rebel against orders from China (represented by Carrie Lam)? Do you agree with the opinion that extradition bill is an initiative of HK government? Or do you think that China inspired it?
I do not see the need for HK to pass the bill. There are two rumors. First is that it was done due to Meng Wanzhou case (former CFO of Huawei, daughter of its founder, arrested in Canada. Chris suggests that China wants to conduct symetric action by arresting foreigners in HK and extraditing them to China – GG). Second is Carrie Lam wanting to please Chinese government. Whatever the reason, it does not improve anything for regular HK citizens.
4. Are there any other ways through which China interferes in the internal affairs of HK? (examples of China enforcing policies on HK)
We do not reject all the proposal, but we have to understand the purpose of the island first. Government said it can provide housing to HK people. If we are talking about housing problem, they first need to stop those 150 immigrants coming from China everyday. They don’t work and they bring no improvement to Hong Kong. Why don’t they stop them from coming Hong Kong and giving resources to them? Young hongkongers can’t expect to be given an apartment to live in, but the government is offering housing to them. Generally, they can get an apartment or rent at a low price within a few years since they come to Hong Kong. This is not fair. Also, you can not build an island and ask Hong Kong people to move there. In our eyes, it is another project to suck money out of Hong Kong. The builder will be some Chinese company which will surely delay a lot and request more and more money from the government.
High speed rail
30 bn HKD to 88.4 bn HKD (3.8 bn to ~11 bn USD). Can you imagine Hong Kong government spent this amount of money on a rail connecting us to Guangzhou? We would prefer spending the money on developing technology in Hong Kong, The government passed the proposal no matter what at the beginning, and approve payments every time the project request more and more money. We have many buses and other trains to go to Shenzhen and Guangzhou already, why do we need this rail? And the rail was built before the issue of immigration station was settled. Basically, it’s location based on which floor is ruled by China, but in which area it will be placed, is ruled by Hong Kong. Can China police arrest people in Hong Kong area? Government approves everything, no matter what the project request, without clearing questions from the public first. Project keeps delaying and requesting money. I would like to know where does the money go?
Original plan had estimated cost of 38.1 billion RMB (around 5 bn USD), finally it exceeded by 10 billion RMB. Hong Kong had to pay 4.3 billion RMB of the additional cost. In total, it paid 10 billion RMB for a bridge, that we do not use. We already have a ferry to go Macua and Zhuhai. There is no heavy traffic of logistic among these 3 places. And normal citizens cannot afford to apply for a driving license to drive to all three of them. We really do not understand why do we need the bridge? Except that it is a reason for Chinese and local businessman to get some money from it. Why is the project delaying? Why is the bridge so expensive? Where does the money go?
150 immigrants everyday
It is a process to dilute Hong Kong people. As large amount of people out of those 150 do not work, only take benefits from Hong Kong, they are willing to support anything China and Hong Kong government say. It means that even if there is true election in the future, China can still control the result.
5. Do you rebel against privileged caste of developers and business people who are continually increasing their wealth? Is it a problem for you that business is growing when, even well-educated Hongkongers, are not able to achieve a decent salary? (and meet satisfying living conditions like buying a flat and affording for a family)
I feel my generation cares less about money. It does not upset them very much.
6. What pushes you to protests? Who is your enemy? Where are the biggest problems of Hongkong in your opinion?
The biggest problem is that the government is not working for Hong Kong people. There are too many injustices within Hong Kong. For example, CY Leung UGL incident, Paul Chan Mo-po’s partitioned flats, hoard, Unauthorised Building Works (various cases of alleged corruption and misbehaviour – GG). These people are fine. It makes me feel those governors are using Hong Kong to make loads of money without bearing any responsibility. At the same time, they are not making any progress of pushing Hong Kong towards a better future. After all, there is no way to punish them, and assign those people who really love Hong Kong.
7. What is the upper limit of protest? I mean: is there and – if yes, then – where is, the point where protesters are going to capitulate? Are you aware of the threat of intervention of Chinese troops? Are you afraid of the response? What would you do if China would decide to intervene?
I did not think about that. I only wonder if there is a limit to police voilence? They attack and kill (to be proved), while people have no way to complain or investigate. They do not have any legal basis for that nor warrant.
8. Do you consider emigration?
No, it is my home.
9. What is your vision of relations with China? (in context of „one country two systems”, how should it be organised? how do you understand this rule?)
We both get benefits from each other, China should have some control over Hong Kong, but it seems Hong Kong Liaison Office does not understand us.
10. What do you think about the idea of independence from China? Do you hope for it?
I am not sure. Many people invest in HK because of China, Hong Kong should work in good relationship with China, moneywise. Independence is not impossible though.
11. What do you think about the following sentence (?): HK is an artificial country, that according to the law is under Chinese rule and it will remain so. Do you agree?
No, it is not under Chinese rule, at least it is not the case before 2047.
12. How do you imagine HK after protesters victory? (e.g. will something change?)
We will be able to choose our own government. That works for Hong Kong people. Of course, it will require a lot of effort to maintain it, and there should be no interference by other powers.
13. How do you imagine HK in 5 years? How do you consider HK in the context of the Greater Bay Area vision?
Greater Bay Area (a concept that makes a megalopolis out of 9 Chinese cities and 2 special regions – GG) does not look promising to me. There are already many scams reported by those people who invested there. If you are super rich, you can definitely make money there, but it is not for ordinary people. You cannot make money without having any “networking” in China.
14. What do you expect from external forces? (ie. Taiwan, United Kingdom, USA)
To punish governors and police. Governors claim themselves that they love Hong Kong, love China. However, most of them or their family members are holding passports of western countries.
(Chief executive) Carrie Lam’s husband and two sons: British
(Financial Secretary) Paul Chan Mo-po’s wife, son and daughter: British
(Secretary for Justice) Teresa Cheng’s husband: Canadian, etc.
Basically, all of the HK governors sent their children to western countries, meanwhile pushing pro-China policy to Hong Kong. If they really believe they are doing the right thing for HK, please stay with us 🙂 The police violate human rights, they arrest young people without a reason, use expired teargas, shooting protester/ innocent people within a short distance. They are just crazy. However, we do not expect the government will investigate them.
15. What is your attitude towards the USA – do you count on American support (especially in the case of military intervention)? If yes, do you realise the USA has already lost with China, and you are alone in your fight?
For the USA, I wish they can pass Hong Kong human rights and democracy act, to cancel governor’s passports and freeze their properties abroad. I never expect any war.
16. Are you aware that protests may be inspired by foreign agents (intelligence)? Are you aware that it may be a part of the information war? (Is it possible that you are a pawn in someone else’s game? In the context of a trade war between the US and China)
We do not make the decision to participate in the protest or march for no reason. We read, we think and we act. We are all affected by information, it is the time we are living in. But we act as we really see the problem and we want to prevent it.
17. Does any party or country pay you or offered you any benefit to participate in the protest? Did you ever hear about such proposals or agreements with other protesters?
No, but pro-China people receive money often. See attached link:
Below picture shows pro-China group distribute money after singing Chinese anthem
And HK police receive large amount of money for overtime work, generally, from 25k hkd to 80k hkd.
18. I know it’s not exactly right and colossal generalisation, but some people need explanation. Why don’t you consider yourself as Chinese despite the universal language and culture?
I will say I am Chinese. But some Chinese are rude and do not respect culture in other places. We want to differentiate HK people from the portion of Chinese, some HK people claim they are not Chinese. My race is Chinese, I cannot deny that.
19. What is the attitude towards protest between:
* generation of your parents?
More and more of them is supporting young people.
* generation of your grandparents?
More and more of them is supporting young people verbally.
* immigrants from the Mainland who are living in HK for many years?
Small portion of them is participating in the protest. Large portion of them, especially parents generation, against the protest. But if they love China government so much, why did they come to Hong Kong? Just go back, it’s easy.
20. Why do you attack the police? There are movies on the internet where protesters are attacking people who don’t agree with you. (I would add: what about damaged MTR stations? What about damaged face recognition towers?)
I am not sure which video you are talking about. But police are with gear, they attack or even kill (to be proved) the protesters in much more serious extent.
MTR cooperate with the police to trap group of protesters. Let them get beaten by gangsters and the police. See the attached links:
Face recognition towers, we don’t like it. We see no peaceful way to take them down. Government claims they have no face recognition functions. But the news they released earlier this year claim it has face recognition function. We don’t know how do they use the data, plus the extradition law, it is a nightmare.
21. What is your attitude toward Chinese people from the Mainland?
If they respect our culture, we are happy to live with them. But if they insist shitting in MTR is fine, force us to speak Mandarine instead of learning Cantonese, it is not acceptable.
22. I suppose that you are aware of what the consequences of protests for HK economy are. Is it worth to damage the HK economy for political reasons? Are you not afraid of economic consequences?
Hong Kong people can see the damage already, some fields report 40% drop of business. Two points to make here. First, some business for example retail, they earn a lot fully relying on Chinese tourists. When they earn, ordinary citizens benefit nothing from them but suffer from crowded places, run out of daily items like milk powder, diapers, hospital vacancies, and even reasonably priced apartments. They brought so many issues to us, and it is only those businessmen that earning money. We would rather have less of these tourists. Secondly, for large companies, we do not wish their business to drop for a long time, but if Hong Kong and Chinese governments will make HK just another city in China, their business will die anyway. They win over other cities and their companies, not just because they are good, it is also because Hong Kong is special in China.
23. In closing, maybe you would like to share with us some interesting facts about the protests?
Coins on machine
During protest, participants do not use their own octopus cards (cards that are used as both as ID and e.g. as a local transportation token for payment – GG) to take MTR after protest. As police can check who have been appearing in the protests. That’s why people queue and buy ticket after every protest, and those not in frontline (during the protests, those who often fight with police – GG), or old people, they will prepare coins and tickets for protesters to leave in a quicker way. Likewise they will distribute food, masks and tickets during the protests.
Compare to umbrella revolution (protest during 2014 – GG), now people are more united. Especially among different generations. Instead of arguing with and blaming each other: older generation saiying young people are making HK a mess, young people saying old people hinder their movement, this time young people create advertising material in old generation format and Airdrop to every device in the street, in MTR, bus and everywhere. See the below picture that says “good morning”. Most of these kind of pictures are with meaningless content but old generation likes to circulate such a picture among their circle. So young people make a lot of these kinds of pictures, with information of the protest to get different generations closer. And it works!
Thank you very much for your time! All the best!
All copyrights (c) reserved to:
Preparation of questions and interview: Paweł Żentała
Editorial, translation and publication: Filip Dąb-Mirowski [Global Game]
Publishing date: 23rd September 2019
About the authors and disclaimer
The above interview was conducted by Paweł Żentała, a Polish programmer working for the french IoT startup (Internet of Things) in Hong Kong between 2018-2019. Political discussions with both educated Chinese from the mainland and Hongkongers (as they like to call themselves), inspired him to familiarize his fellow countrymen with the political situation in this (recently) troubled city.
The questions were prepared based on the suggestions made by the participants of the Geopolitics discussion group. They vary in tone, from apologetic to provocative, depending on the individual attitudes of the debaters towards the events in Hong Kong. In our opinion (Filip’s & Paweł’s), this holistic approach allows for a better understanding of the events taking place. Provides the best form of documentary and gives a glimpse into social moods. The interview was conducted in English, and was published in the original form, with just small adjustments enforced by the editorial requirements. However, it should be remembered that:
1. The opinions and content presented are the result of individual perception and knowledge presented by the person being interviewed. Therefore, they should not be identified with the opinions of the author / authors of [Global Game].
2. Due to possible legal liability, the risk of arrest or harassment, the personal data of the interlocutor will not be disclosed and, where relevant from an editorial point of view – we’ve changed some of it (e.g. name). You have to take our word for it that this person really exists.
3. The interview is published with the consent of all interested parties. It is designed to confront our local journalism (Polish) on the matter, with the knowledge and opinions of protest participants.
If you want to know more about Hong Kong protests, be sure to read the article Dangerous state.
About Global Game (Globalna Gra): It’s an independent Polish blog focused on geopolitics, established in the early 2017 by Filip Dąb-Mirowski. It hosts interviews, reviewes and articles which touch upon developments and issues in the international politics. It also works as a podcast, YouTube channel, Facebook profile and Twitter account under the same name.