The Hong Kong report – part #3
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: October 4, 2019
Interviewee: X, 27 years old, female born in Hong Kong (Chinese descent).
GG: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
X: I am a 27 year old, female. I was born and raised in Hongkong and stayed 4 years abroad for university studies in the UK. I now a graduate for a few years. I’m working in the marketing sector and living with parents. My grandparents and parents are all from the mainland and migrated to HK 40 years ago when the business went smooth. Both parents came here when they were still teenagers. Both my grandpa and father are business owners. I have one younger brother. He and I are actively supporting the 5 demands, hence ‘yellow ribbons’, despite the fact that father is ‘deep blue ribbon’.
1. What are your most important demands?
- Full withdrawal of the extradition bill
- A commission of inquiry into alleged police brutality
- Retracting the classification of protesters as “rioters”
- Amnesty for arrested protesters
- Dual universal suffrage, meaning for both the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive
Five demands, not one less. Now that Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of the bill (announced but the withdrawal hasn’t been processed yet), my demand coming up first is a commission of inquiry into alleged police brutality. There are protestors, first aiders and journalists who got shot, unreasonably. Several video clips show that the police wasn’t facing any death threats as they and the government described. Yet they fired rubber bullets (and live ammo), at a short distance, at their heads, without warnings.
Below are details for the school kid shot on October 1st
Here you can clearly see, that it’s not like the police stated at press conference:
‘protestor decided the distance, protestor assaulted the policeman in a short distance causing death threat and policeman fired real gun to protect himself’
The fact is that the policeman chased after protestors, then he was the one who ran near the group of protestors already holding up a real gun. It was the protestor who got death threat, not him.
Here is another angle in a longer clip. After firing real bullet right at the protestor’s chest (it’s his chest, not ‘shoulder’ as stated by the police) none of the few policemen nearby went up to check up on him. Even the other protestor who went to the ground next to them kept yelling for help, asking the police and the press to help the injured. Even the policeman who stopped the yelling kid said himself he holds a first aid license. But only after more than 5 minutes, one of the police shouted ‘call the ambulance’. This is what I call 'assault, death threat' or 'murder'.
Police stated the secondary (school) student who got shot was holding sharp iron stick. The clip above clearly shows that they tell lies again. They`ve picked up the ‘sharp iron stick’ somewhere else and collected it as an evidence. In reality, the white rubber stick and a floating board were all the kid had.
Commissioner of HK Police Stephen Lo stated during press conference, that what the policeman did is totally reasonable and legal, although he hasn’t had a deep understanding of the situation.
Below are details for the Indonesian reporter shot on September 29th
There were only reporters on the bridge, the reporters kept telling the police and asked them not to shoot. Policemen started to go down the stairs, yet one policeman turned his back when he was already on the stairs and fired. Indoneisan reporter got shot in her right eye and hospital declared she lost her sight in it. What kind of ‘death threat’ is this to the policeman that he had to shoot right at her head? From his position (already down at the stairs) he could only aim at the reporters upper body section.
There are numerous cases of unreasonable firing, beating, insulting cases to the protestors and the public. Yet the police force said what they did is legal. What is legal is that the infamous criminal Yip Kai Foon holding an AK47 gun was only shot at his leg at the time the police caught him.
The Independent Police Complaints Council hasn’t been doing their jobs. There are data which can prove it. Arranging two more friends of Carrie Lam into the Council doesn’t help the case. Police also got caught not only once as shown above, putting weapons not belonging to the protestors as evidence, perverting the course of justice. A commission of inquiry into alleged police brutality is the only way to ease a bit people’s hate towards the police force and maintain justice, which we HK people were always very proud of. Justice is one of the core values of HK and this is what makes it stand out as a small special region in China.
2. Is it true that young people are not able to afford a flat?
I’m living with my parents. Most of my friends who are in their late twenties do. Recently a friend of mine who’s a banker, bought a flat. She enjoys a better mortgage plan from the bank she’s working for. But that forces her to sacrifice her other working opportunities (out of her current company).
The flat is an old one, in an old district, 300 square feet with a small roof top and it cost over 7 million HKD (around 900k USD).
Pretty good earning people are able to buy an apartment, but definitely it wont be a good deal and not without career concerns. It’s not impossible, but rather rare. Not having a flat of our own of course blocks our outlook for development, including having family. Things as simple as making love between a couple is a common issue for most of us living with parents. This is why the public, especially younger ones is hateful towards the government. I can’t deny that many of them march on the street because they feel hopeless with their future development.
However, I know many of the protestors including myself, that march on the street not because of the difficulties of getting a flat (or not only because of that). As we know there’ll be a future, we are developing our professions and we can rent, we can migrate to other countries etc. To put it simple, we won’t die right away having the extradition bill passed. Yet we feel it’s urgent to voice out our opinions because passing the bill means that the whole idea of ‘one country, two systems’ will be collapsing extremely fast, almost destroyed.
We don’t want to see our lovely Hong Kong with freedom of speech fall apart. We don’t want to live here like mainlanders live in mainland, without connection to the world.
Imagine publishing a social network status and some words are banned as they’re considered sensitive. Imagine fellow workers in the media and advertising sectors, like (copy)writers, cannot publish their work how they want it and have to twist wordings (to adjust towards censorship). This is killing creativity, killing people’s eagerness to seek truth by planting fear in every single individual. This fear of not to speak freely is already planted deeply in most mainlanders hearts. Moreover, not speaking anything against the government is not enough these days. Celebrities have to post weibo status to celebrate National Day. This past 1st of October, netizens in the mainland made up a list of celebrities that did not post any words for National Day.
No one will want to live in a place without the freedom of speech. It’s another form of imprisonment.
You may wonder why passing the bill affects freedom of speech? The proposed bill allows requests from China for extradition of criminal suspects. We do not trust the flawed justice system of China. Causeway Bay Books disappearances is a good example for further understanding of the matter. If the bill had passed, there would be a chance that when we say or do something challenging the Chinese government, then we get caught under other charges. There would be a chance of disappearance, or something worse. I think this way and many people do.
3. Are there any other ways how China interfere in the internal affairs of HK?
More on the Lantau Tomorrow Vision development project :
It is said that over 100k public housing flats are promised within the project. Government keeps saying artificial island is the way out of housing shortage crisis, while the public strongly demands housing development should be done on the brown field site instead, which won’t drain the city’s coffers nor cause serious damage to the environment. I strongly believe that the whole Lantau Tomorrow idea is suppoused to act as the gateway connecting us with China. As stated by Carrie Lam, artificial islands will connect the Greater Bay Area with roads and rails. It’s not surprising that this is an act to further and faster connect mainland and Hong Kong, in a larger scale, by extremely high cost. We true Hongkongers are worrying there’ll soon be no land called Hong Kong anymore.
4. Do you rebel against privileged caste of developers and business people who are continually increasing their wealth?
I rebel against them by spending more on independent shops.
5. What pushes you to protests?
The stupid and stubborn HK government pushes me to. All the young protestors made me deeply moved and determined to continue with protests. To be honest, the five demands shouldn’t have any enemies. We demand for a communication and policies which do good and justice to the people. Carries Lam’s persist of previously not withdrawing the bill and her poor attitude made her our enemy. Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of HK (DAP) the pro-Beijing party and the Police force are another two. One of the biggest problems is that DAP members are dominating the Legislative Council. Another is police brutality. And also large amounts of Chinese immigrants are coming HK everyday, we smell ‘ethinic cleansing’. Sooner or later, true Hong Kongers with a liberal heart will become the minority and Chinese immigrants who are ‘loyal’ to the country will dominate the city and be the privileged.
6. 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?
Nobody knows how this is gonna end. I don’t think there’s a limit. I’m aware of the threat of intervention of Chinese troops. There’re informations circulating around, saying that Chinese troops are here and already transported weapons pass the border. Also people highly suspect some HK policemen are indeed Chinese policemen, with could be seen in video clips of them not knowing how to speak cantonese. Am I affraid? Yes and no. If the Chinese troops really march onto Hong Kong, it will show to the world how ridiculous, weak and uncivilized this country is.
We have a saying
’If we burn, you burn with us.’
7. Do you consider emigration?
I try not to because I love this place, and this is one of the reasons why I chose not to stay in the UK after university graduation. Yet, I do consider emigration. It will be the last resort. Indeed, females at late twenties are considering whether to give birth. Discussions go on from time to time these years, and me and many of my friends come to a conclusion – if we stay here, we don’t give birth. HK is getting worse and will not be a good place for kids development.
8. What is your vision of relations with China?
Under “one country two systems”, Hong Kong’s justice system should remain as our own. Actions should be taken for dual universal suffrage, for both the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive, as promised by The Basic Law.
9. What do you think about the idea of independence from China?
As long as China stops interfering Hong Kong’s justice system, doing all means to make HK just another chinese city, Hong Kong people will be happy to remain as the special administrative region of China. If the situation goes worse and worse, I might consider the idea of independence. Until then, people I know and I are not considering and demanding it.
10. How do you imagine Hong Kong after protesters victory?
I haven’t thought about this. At this stage, we’re hoping for the five demands being accepted. Hoping that dual universal suffrage happens and legislative council will take in more voices without pro-beijing party’s dominating. Also, that future Chief Executive and future Legco will be more willing to consider people’s voices and push back unreasonable policies which do harm to Hong Kong locals interests.
11. 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?
Even if it’s possible that we’re a pawn in someone else’s game, we don’t mind and we stand up for what we demand. Especially now, after the police force’s flaws and Carrie Lam’s ignorant actions after the major marches. We may be inspired by them, but this is what we want. We are not brain-washed by foreign agents and we sincerely do this, even many risk their lives, for our own interests, for the home we love. Hong Kong has always been and will always be a place taking in both Western and Eastern thinking.
12. 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?
Absolutely no, for both questions.
13. Why don’t you consider yourself as Chinese despite the universal language and culture?
I won’t deny I’m a Chinese, but I consider myself being from Hong Kong and that’s what I say when people ask. Just like a New Yorker would say 'I’m from New York' (and not from USA). It’s Hong Kong, China. We’re reluctant to say we’re Chinese in the first place because we speak different language and our culture is quite different from mainland.
We speak Cantonese, mainland Chinese speak Mandarin.
We write traditional Chinese, mainland Chinese write simplified Chinese.
We have English colleges and Chinese colleges, English colleges are the ones teaching most subjects in English. They are often the schools with higher rankings.
We use Facebook, Instagram, Google, Whatsapp, while mainland Chinese use Weibo, Wechat.
We read all kinds of news while most mainland Chinese can only read pro-communist news.
Simply put, we have been enjoying freedom while mainland Chinese don’t have it since they were born.
Hong Kong is a place mixing Western and Eastern ideologies. We act both ways, we accept both cultures. We have public holidays for Christmas as well as Buddha’s birthday, Mainlanders don’t.
We also hold different passports. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport allows us to travel much more freely without having to wait for visas for many many countries. Most of the time when we select where we’re from/nationality, while filling up personal information eg. buying flight tickets, there’s a “Hong Kong” to choose from all other countries including China. Hong Kong has been treated differently in many ways, internationally.
There’re so many differences between HK and Mainland China. Not to mention Hong Kong’s medical and justice systems. That’s why most of us considers ourselves as HongKongers.
14. What is the attitude towards protest between:
* generation of your parents?
* generation of your grandparents?
* immigrants from the Mainland who are living in HK for many years?
Generations of my parents and grandparents are tend to be blue ribbons and light yellow. Many of them are immigrants from Mainland who has been living in HK for many years. Their education level is not as high as that of younger generations and many of them spent their whole life fighting for a living. They care much less about what’s happening to the society. Eat well and live well in a nice flat (flats were more than 10 times cheaper in the past) are their ultimate life goals. Many of my friends parents dislike what protestors are doing because it disturbs their living. Older generations tend to read only TVB news, traditional mainstream newspapers and hear news circulating around in their social circles. They have narrow contact with different sources of news. That’s why they do not understand young people.
However, it is reported and I`ve witnessed it personally, that more and more middle aged and old protestors go out to the streets. More with every single time. During recent safer marches, I discovered there’re plenty of people from my parents generation. Also, immigrants from the Mainland honestly consider Hong Kong to be a better land for their development so they moved here. Part of them understands what’s happening to HK and supports the movement.
15. Why do you attack the police? There are movies on the internet where protesters are attacking people who don’t agree with you.
I did none of these. I’m a rather peaceful protestor, supporting the active ones at their back.
Protestors have a saying ‘don’t sever ties with, nor snitch on anyone’.
We don’t know what’s the upper limit of protest if there’s any. We don’t know how far we can go and we support all means if we think it can be a way out, although we think we can do better. To unite is the only way out. We can only accept that the size of protests keeps growing but not becoming less. To me, damaging ‘objects’ is still a very peaceful act, while the police are assaulting protestors AND the public putting their lives at risk with real bullets. A group of policemen were seen kicking a man wearing yellow, unarmed. And the police officially stated that they were kicking a ‘yellow object’.
Many of the citizens indeed support damaging MTR stations, or think it’s acceptable. We know MTR is one of the police’s transport and weapons now. We’re boycotting MTR. Some people who are hesitating to go on strike, actually hope for broken MTR stations and network so they ‘are forced’ to go on strike.
16. I suppose that you are aware of what are economical results of protests for HK economy. Is it worth to damage the HK economy for political reasons?
I’m aware of this and it’s worth to do so. If we don’t do this now, I’m afraid much worse economical and cultural consequences will come. If we don’t protest and try to bring HK government back to the right path, HK will soon lose its financial status as an unique international city. In best case scenario, HK will remain okay while most of the true HKers won’t enjoy the economic benefits that the city offers, only privileged Chinese immigrants will.
17. We decided to publish this interview as a text instead of the video because of privacy concerns. Could you tell more about why privacy is such a big issue in this case, and what kind of repercussions are you expecting?
Chinese people all know that they shouldn’t say anything negative to the communist party. They are educated that way, and they know they face unpredictable threats if they say something bad. As mainland has already interfered in HK in many ways, I’d better shut up. If they have the time and resources, they can get as many protestors out as they want. They can locate me easily, put me under any charges and I could be beaten up, mistreated in any way, put in jail etc. You don’t need to commit a crime to be sent to jail. That’s also how I/we believe most mainlanders see China’s justice system.
18. Would you like to add anything?
Thank you for your time.
Thanks again and 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.