So a lot of folks wanted to get my thoughts on what's been happening in Hong Kong over the last month. I wrote about 6000 words on it, so if you don't mind a wall of text, please feel free to read.
The Kettle boils over in Hong Kong
July 1st- Anniversary of betrayal
Three days before the July 4th celebrations in the USA, where Americans celebrate the founding of our nation in a Revolutionary War, Hong Kong has a different ceremony that commemorates a completely different event.
July 1, 1997 was the day that the colony of Hong Kong, governed by the UK for over 150 years, was ceded back to the People’s Republic of China. An event that is seen by many Hong Kongers as a great betrayal of the people of Hong Kong by a “free” government, handing over 6 million people to a totalitarian regime.
Yesterday, the 22nd anniversary of this event, saw the largest “violent” uprising of people in Hong Kong since the 1967 Communist-led Hong Kong riots. Thousands of people, a majority of whom are in their late teens and early twenties, assaulted the seat of their government, the Legislative Council building. After several hours of attacking glass windows and doors, some eventually broke through and opened the doors to masses who ran in and defaced the seat of power over their lives.
To a lot of people around the world, this was another, albeit surprising, update to a weeks-long set of protests that had been in the news since early June of 2019. Many people worldwide expressed surprise that the mostly peaceful protests and protestors, which had been seen as victims of violence from police brutality, seemingly lost their composure and assaulted their seat of government.
The reality is, this was inevitable, if not engineered by the government. The responsibility for this event rests squarely on the shoulders of the Hong Kong government, who have failed the people of Hong Kong in their attempts to placate their masters in Beijing. Their loyalty is not to the Hong Kong people, to the Basic Law, or the Joint Declaration. Their actions have shown that their loyalty is only to Beijing and, in the case of Carrie Lam, her ego. While I may say this in an accusatory tone, this is an entirely objective observation, based on the events and how they transpired.
The roots of this current event go far back to before 1997, but in the interests of brevity, I will just focus on what’s happened in this year that has led to the effective gutting of the LegCo building.
February to Early June – Seeds of unrest
Back in February 2019, the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam and her pro-Beijing compatriots put forward a proposal to amend Hong Kong’s extradition laws called the “Fugitive Offender’s Ordinance” and “Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance”. The amendments targeted supposed loopholes where Hong Kong “couldn’t” extradite criminals to China, Taiwan, and Macau because of a lack of specific agreements. The trigger for this was a murder case involving a Hong Konger committing murder in Taiwan, then fleeing back to Hong Kong.
In actuality, Hong Kong has done so before with all of the said countries/territories, but these amendments were designed to effectively override Hong Kong’s autonomy on legal matters and give Beijing a backdoor into having people arrested in Hong Kong for supposed breaches of Mainland Chinese “law”. The ordinance itself was seen as such a bad thing by the Taiwanese government, they informed the Hong Kong government that Taiwan would NOT abide by or accept this ordinance change because of its potential to affect Taiwanese people in Hong Kong. That and the wording designated Taiwan as a part of the PRC.
In spite of multiple protests from groups traditionally loyal to the Pro-Beijing camps, including an unprecedented protest from judges and lawyers in Hong Kong, Carrie Lam was dead set on pushing the legislation through the Legislative Council before the beginning of the summer recess.
The legislative council has become a largely rubber-stamp for Beijing policies since the 2017 and 2018 changes of laws and removal of legislators deemed to be too anti-Communist China to be allowed to be lawmakers. However, even in this half-elected, half-appointed legislative body, a large number of the pro-Beijing camp was pleading with Carrie Lam and her administration to stop the bill because of the potential future consequences for Hong Kong, especially as a trade hub and special economic zone as designated by both China and Western countries like the United States. To highlight this threat to Hong Kong’s status, 11 EU officials had a meeting on May 29th with Carrie Lam to voice their concerns and were largely rebuffed. The United States, which has a special declaration going back to 1992 regarding Hong Kong’s status, also voiced concerns from February onward.
Even with all of these calls from her usually loyal lackies and the international community, as well as unprecedented calls from areas of society that largely stay quiet on social matters, Carrie Lam continued her push for the legislation to be adopted before the start of the summer break session for the Legislative Council. Then came June 9th.
June 9th to Father’s Day – The eyes of the world turn
On June 9th, following a series of smaller protests, over a million Hong Kong people took to the streets of Hong Kong Island in a day-long protest against this law. This protest happened in spite of a pair of firebombings targeting police stations a few days before, that the police claimed were from Triads. However, the Triads claimed they had nothing to do with the bombings, and the follow-up declarations from the police that “It is too dangerous to protest on June 9th, stay home” made people very suspicious of the validity of the police claims on the firebombings. Hong Kongers seemed more afraid of China’s overreach than they were of claims of Triad bombings from a very questionable police declaration.
The fears of Hong Kongers are many, with the core fear being that the adoption of this law will legitimize the arrest, detention, and removal of ANYONE in Hong Kong for supposed crimes against “Mainland China”. Events like the kidnapping of the anti-Xi Jinping Booksellers, as well as numerous other cases of local Hong Kongers disappearing from HK and somehow ending up in Mainland prisons were fresh on the minds and lips of these protestors. Age didn’t matter, as everyone from elderly to children with parents marched in the summer heat against this law.
Later that night, small numbers of young people clashed with police, resulting in a number of injuries to both sides and arrests of people. While this itself wasn’t very surprising to the Hong Kong people, the reaction of the government was. Government forces claimed that these young people were rioters, a word that carries the weight of long prison sentences, and police shared images of supposed weapons found at the scene of these altercations. Images of weapons that were not found in any of the hundreds of thousands of photos and hours of videos recorded during that event. Video of police mercilessly attacking and beating young people in the late teens raced around social media, as the mainstream outlets in Hong Kong continued to parrot police propaganda. These actions started a smoldering fire in the Hong Kong psyche that only further began to burn.
On June 10th, two things happened. Carrie Lam publicly denounced the June 9th protests, lumping the whole day into the events of the violent clashes, and patronizingly claimed that Hong Kongers simply didn’t understand the nuances of the law. She pledged to keep pushing forward, which triggered responses by the West. Also on June 10th, the United States congress put forward statements warning of a potential threat to Hong Kong’s autonomy in this law, and how that could trigger a reexamination of Hong Kong’s special status related to the United States and the rest of the world.
On June 11th, Carrie Lam reiterated her continued stance on the law, and was further backed by a public declaration from the Mainland-Hong Kong liaison office and the foreign ministry of Mainland China that this was a Hong Kong and internal China affair, and the international community needed to butt out. This did not sit well with the very connected and social-media savvy Hong Kongers, who already had planned a weekday protest for the afternoon of 12th June.
The 12th of June saw eerie images reminiscent of the first days of the Umbrella Protests of 2014 as a very belligerent police force were filmed and photographed charging protestors at government buildings. This escalated into over ten hours of brutally excessive force that saw the police firing rubber bullets at point blank range, beanbag rounds, and over 150 cannisters of tear gas indiscriminately. Foreign press were not differentiated from the protestors as the police charged, gassed, pepper sprayed, and beat journalist and protestors alike in an event that so shocked the international media, it dominated news coverage worldwide for most of the day of June 12th in the West.
The reaction in the West was swift, as the major players in the EU and North America condemned the actions of the Hong Kong police, and even Japan and South Korea commented negatively on what was happening.
On June 13th, in the United States, bipartisan congressional support fell in behind Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, as well as Democratic Senators Bob Menendez and Tom Cotton and a plethora of Republican and Democratic congressmen to reintroduce the stalled 2017 Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. This act, among other things, would require that the US State Department certify that Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous from Mainland China to warrant the large number of benefits afforded to Hong Kong’s economy. This act, amending the 1992 Hong Kong status declaration was seen as a howitzer shot across the bow of the Hong Kong government and Mainland China. Within hours of this happening, the Ambassador the United Kingdom gave an unsolicited public statement, declaring that Beijing did not have a hand in requesting for Hong Kong to amend the fugitive law, putting the ball squarely on Carrie Lam’s shoulders.
Furthermore, on June 13th and 14th, in a series of largely ridiculed statements, the Hong Kong police force consistently refused to answer questions regarding police brutality and disproportionate response. They also refused to take responsibility for the attacks on press individuals by the police, thus leading to the famous June 13th press conference with the chief of police. At this press conference, all the journalists arrived dressed in riot and protective gear, wearing gas masks, and hard hats. The message was clear: We don’t trust you or anything you say.
Carrie Lam’s June 12th interview, aired as the police were attacking protestors, in which she cried and claimed that she was a mother, and like a mother, she needed to do what is right for Hong Kongers, even if they fight back like angry children (I’m paraphrasing here), was largely lampooned throughout the territory. It led directly to over 6000 mothers, on June 14th, to show up for a night-time protest and vigil. They called out Carrie Lam over her pretention and her supposed claims to be the “mother of Hong Kong”, and astutely reminded Carrie Lam that her position was at the grace of the Hong Kong people’s willingness to accept her leadership, not some “parental” kind of relationship. This protest of the mothers was the warmup for the protest of the Fathers.
The next day saw the first life claimed by the events, as a 35-year old man named Marco Leung, who famously wore a yellow raincoat, jumped from a scaffolding he had occupied and posted anti-Extradition Law materials onto in previous days. His death was the first protest-related death in decades, and it served as a lightning rod for the protests the following day.
16th June, 2019. Father’s Day. Hong Kong’s people arrived in force. Over 2 million people, almost 1/3 of the population of Hong Kong, marched against the law, and in support of people who had been arrested by the police for events of 9th and 12th June. Demands included the resignation of Carrie Lam, removal of the law from consideration, and removal of the label “rioters” to people who had been arrested. This large-scale protest did finally illicit an official response from the government, but it was woefully inadequate.
The interim period – or the storm before the typhoon
Carrie Lam held a press conference on 18th June, in which she suspended the law’s discussion moving forward. However, the language used in Chinese versus English was different. The English language implied indefinite suspension, effectively removal of consideration and permanent abandonment, while the Chinese language was more akin to “pause until a more advantageous time”. Additionally, she continuously reiterated that she had no intention of removing the law from consideration, instead she wanted to “clear up misunderstandings and explain the law better”. Despite being pressed by public and media alike to give a statement about the young protestors who were arrested and labeled as rioters, she refused to draw distinctions or comment, shifting the responsibility onto the police officials. Those officials then pushed the responsibility onto the officer leadership at the scene for the determination of the status. No one wanted to take responsibility.
In the interim before 1st July a number of things happened.
1. It became public that the Hong Kong police, during the protests, had made demands of medical personnel at hospitals to inform them of people coming to the hospital to treat protest related injuries. At the hospitals where this was successful, it led to protestors being arrested while they were awaiting medical treatment.
2. An email from the very Pro-Beijing Hospital Authority Chief required staff from specific hospitals to use the “emergency disaster recording system” to identify patients coming in for treatment as “Civilian”, “Press”, or “Police”. Unbeknownst to the medial front-line personnel, this emergency system had been given back-door access to the police, which led to police showing up to hospitals in-force, going straight to patients identified in this system as “Civilian”, and arresting them on the spot.
3. Hong Kong hospital personnel protested the overreach of the police into patient confidentiality and records, holding signs of “Behave” as a way to call out the police for their actions.
4. Protests became an almost nightly and daily occurrence at many government buildings and offices, with places like Immigration Tower and Inland Revenue (IRS for HK) being shut down during some business days due to protestors.
5. Hong Kong police Headquarters was blocked in by protestors on several occasions, with June 26th being the largest-scale “siege”, but all were peacefully resolved without violence.
6. The Hong Kong police official Facebook account posted what was seen as a largely juvenile-sounding post, chastising medical personnel and the public for their anger at the police’s actions in hospitals. The next day, police held a walkout on hospitals in which they refused to show up to hospital police station posts. (Each HK Hospital has a dedicated police presence in-hospital for cases related to criminals or potential problems with patients.)
7. Carrie Lam see-sawed between apologetic and outraged at the critiques of herself, the police, and the law, continuously claiming that the problem wasn’t the law, but that Hong Kong people were too simple or stupid to understand the law’s nuances. “We need to spend more time explaining the law.” Was a constant refrain, as was her claim that “We have had calm in Hong Kong for two years, so this was surprising.”
8. A pro-Beijing official publicly stated that the government would spend money on more “education campaigns” about the law and try to push it in under-the-radar at the beginning of the next Legislative Session in October, before the November Elections.
9. Beijing declared that Hong Kong was a non-speakable subject to bring up with Xi Jinping at the G20 summit beginning 26th June, a declaration that led to virtually every major G20 country bringing up Hong Kong to Xi’s delegation during the summit.
10. In response to the Beijing declaration, a Hong Kong crowdfunding campaign raised almost a million USD to put full-page ads in major news outlets worldwide in support of the Hong Kong anti-Extradition Law protests. These campaigns even led to public displays of support, with a large gathering in New York’s Central station of people holding up the New York Times to the ad page, complete with a yellow rain-jacket wearing man in remembrance of the first suicide.
As June came to a close, everyone geared up for what was expected to be a contentious July 1st “celebration” of Hong Kong’s handover to Mainland China.
June 29th-June 30th – The typhoon arrives, bringing death and destruction
On June 29th, news broke that shocked Hong Kong, especially those in their late teens and twenties. A young woman, 21 years old, and a student of the Education University of Hong Kong scrawled a suicide declaration against the China Extradition law in red on the wall of her housing estate. She then proceeded to jump to her death. This suicide rocked Hong Kong, as this young person who could be anyone’s child, sister, or friend cited this law as the chief determiner of her decision to end her life.
The next day, June 30th, a 29-year old former teacher and clerk, who had taken part in the 9th June and 16th June marches shared her final status on Facebook in Chinese, which was translated by multiple news outlets.
“Hong Kong, Add Oil. (sic Good luck, Power to you!)
I wish I could see you all achieve victory in the end. I am sorry I can’t attend the march tomorrow on 1st July because I have given up completely. I feel that there is no tomorrow. I am tired, I don’t want to fight for tomorrow anymore…
I think I would be marginalised by the society, just like a tree branch, floating in the river instead of blossoming on a tree.
Thank you to everyone who has loved me and to those people I have met in my life.
To my parents, Francis and Chao Chao:
Francis, please ask the bank to distribute my savings in my bank account in three portions to all of you. Thank you. Please live well and chase your dreams. I have completed all my wishes. This is probably my fate. I don’t think I will become better… I don’t think I will have better opportunity or more time and I don’t appreciate what I have. I am tired and I am sorry, I know I am selfish.
I would like to donate my organs after I have passed away. Thank you and goodbye.”
After posting this message she leapt from a tall footbridge connecting Hong Kong Station with the IFC building in Central, a hotbed area for the protests.
That same day, June 30th, a large “pro-Police” march garnering a reported 165,000 people, largely made up of what appeared to be Mainland tourists and older people speaking Mandarin, ran rampant through the protest areas. The mob moved through, ripping down posts and art about the protests, damaging several public sculptures, attacking anyone who tried to film them, including press, attacked Legco members, and assaulted a number of young people who were taking photos of the event. This is a stark contrast to the actions of protestors against the extradition law, who not only came in after that protest and cleaned up, but also replaced everything that had been torn down.
Additionally, the police had put up a massive number of barriers to access the area where the July 1st flag raising ceremony would be held. The setting looked akin to the security arrangements around Xi Jinping’s visit a few years earlier, where high walls were erected to make sure Xi wouldn’t even be able to see anti-Xi or anti-CCP banners. July 1st was going to be an interesting day.
July 1st – The water boils over
The early morning of July 1st saw small numbers of protestors facing off in several areas on the approach to the flag-raising ceremony areas. On several occasions, these small groups of protestors were charged by police, with a number of these young people being arrested and beaten before the mass of Hong Kongers were even aware of what was going on. By 8:00 or so, the government had declared the ceremony moved indoors because of “rain”, while the protestor numbers continued to grow, especially outside of the Legislative Council building – the seat of government power in Hong Kong.
Around the hour of 9:00 AM, Carrie Lam made her speech regarding the handover. Before tipping back a glass of champagne to celebrate the handover of Hong Kong to Mainland China, she reiterated her talking points from before. She “apologized” for the poor communication and understanding, and promised to “listen to ideas and opinions” about the law before moving forward. This language had all been heard before, when she had said the same things following controversial moves related to a cultural centre and a joint-law high speed rail station being pushed onto Hong Kong despite popular outcry. To many Hong Kongers, especially young people, it was yet another in a line of pointless and condescending political speak that only served to show Carrie Lam’s disdain for the public.
By 10:30 AM, a large number of protestors, in advance of the main 2PM protests meant to set off from Victoria Park, surrounded the Legco Building in Central. Emotions and anger were rife throughout the crowd, and some people moved forward to attack barriers erected in front of the building to stop protestors from reaching the building’s grounds.
Suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, a group of around six young men, refusing to listen to anyone else and shoving off other protestors’ attempts to stop them, grabbed a large metal cart from a nearby construction zone, loaded it with heavy materials and proceeded to bash it against the windows of the Legislative Council building. Images blasted through the airwaves of these six men, uncontested by police (who stood on the other side of the glass), and surrounded by press cameras that effectively blocked people from stopping them, smash this improvised battering ram against the building over and over.
The origins of these men are in dispute, as some reports are that they were “bad actors” meaning trouble-making rioters or paid Beijing agitators. Other reports state they were a part of a young-person’s group that had been heavily affected by the dual suicides of the past days, while also being infuriated by the conduct of the “pro-Police” march the day before. I can say that I personally believe that these men and/or the lack of response to their actions by the police, were a part of some kind of a staged drama that was designed to undermine the message of the protests and protestors in the eyes of Hong Kongers and the world media.
Even more evidence of the veracity of a “setup” came when the police announced their intention to clear the protest are around the Legco later that night, “After there having been a violent assault on the Legco by rioters”. The recorded police declaration, aired multiple times from around 10 PM onward, was supposedly recorded as a press statement after 9PM. However, examination of the watch on the arm of the police spokesperson showed that the recording of the police statement was a 5 PM…long before the Legco was actually breached by the protestors.
Either way, the result was inevitable. These mens’ actions, coupled with the last months of a complete unwillingness to listen on the part of the government, and doused with the oil of despair and desperation of a young people who’d seen two of their own fall in as many days to suicide, led to a perfect conflagration.
It is at this point I will do something I haven’t done much during this article. Inject a bit of myself into this piece. I am a teacher in Hong Kong, and have been for the last ten years. My wife is a Hong Konger, my daughter was born here, my in-laws and family are here. I have a multitude of students who are now at the same age group as these protestors. Some of my students were even there. Others sent me messages during the protests on July 1st, when I posted commentary against the men charging the LegCo building, pleading with me to understand their pain and anger at the government and not condemn them for their anger and actions as a result.
My stake in Hong Kong is to see Hong Kong’s continuance as a Special Administrative Region, in-line with the Basic Law and Joint Declaration. I am astutely aware of the geopolitics of the situation and the region, having studied heavily in the political and diplomacy areas throughout my higher educational career. My only motivation is to see Hong Kong’s prosperity under the one county, two systems framework in accordance with the treaties and international agreements signed by the UK and China in the 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately, China seems to be impatient and cannot stand the idea of having to wait to bring a territory under its heel, even at the expense of the actual benefits keeping Hong Kong in a status-quo brings for China.
My pontification aside, I have a deep connection to this place, its people, and especially its children. My students will grow up with the consequences of the machinations of nations and governments that they have no say or control over. The people of Hong Kong are at the mercy of a government that does not care what they feel about their future, only their obedience. As such, Hong Kongers, especially those in their late teens to early twenties, have a sense of despair, anger, frustration, and loss. They are a youth without any say or determination in their future. The government of Hong Kong has made it clear over the last decade that they prioritize obedience to Beijing over listening to the will of the people. Some small victories aside, especially related to the “national education” curriculum and the “national security” legislation, the people of Hong Kong are at the mercy of the whims of people with whom they share nothing.
Hong Kong does not speak Mandarin/Putonghua. It speaks Cantonese. Hong Kong does not read simplified Chinese, it reads Traditional Chinese. Hong Kongers do not use Mainland ID cards or passports unless they choose to. They use the Hong Kong dollar. Have freedom of speech and assembly. Have freedom of religion and the press. They don’t even use the RMB currency, but the Hong Kong dollar.
All of these differentiations and more not only have Hong Kongers not seeing themselves as Chinese in the sense of “Mainland Chinese” identity. They have direct experience in the last twenty years with increasing Mainland presence and authority in Hong Kong, and it has made them acutely aware of what future they are looking to.
The young people who attacked the LegCo on July 1st did so because they fear that future. They are afraid of the future they will have to experience within the next thirty years. They fear for their children, their sisters and brothers, and their future grandchildren. They are fed up with being told they “don’t understand” the Extradition Law. They are fed up with empty promises and political talk. They are especially fed up with Carrie Lam and her methods of running Hong Kong and want her gone.
The six men with the cart were this spark of a drama that, once it took root, ignited an anger, resentment, despair, and hatred in young people. That hatred is not for specific people in-general, but hatred at their inability to have any say in the future of themselves, their home city, their lives, and those of their children. They hate being ruled over by an autocratic regime, and July 1st those young people abandoned peaceful protesting methods that they believed were not getting results. Instead they tore into the seat of power of the autocracy ruling their lives and gutted it.
How they gutted it, though, is amazing. Throughout the day, while the news was focused on the assault on the LegCo building, the main protest set off from Victoria Park after negotiations with the police on a change of final venue. Since the assault on the Legco was taking place, the police refused to allow the main protest, some half a million people strong, to go to the Legco building. After reaching a suitable arrangement, the main protest march set off, and what they found along their way was astounding.
The young people had set up signs directing families and other protestors away from the Legco building. They set up routes for the main protest to bypass areas the young people had taken over. They parted ways over and over for incoming ambulances to help with people who were injured. If you elected to go toward the Legco, there were signs and “traffic wardens” directing people to safe observation areas, and marked spots for “danger zones”.
Needed supplies of water, food, and medical implements were readily available and coordinated by social media and messaging apps.
When the LegCo was finally breached and the police gave way, students put up signs reminding each other to not damage property in the building that wasn’t “government owned”. “Don’t destroy the books” was posted in several places. Upon entering, these young people proceeded to destroy equipment, images, painting, and symbols of the autocratic rule over their lives. They spray panted slogans on the walls, some of them vile, some of the political, many of them angry, but one slogan on the central pillar of the LegCo floor summed up with entire event.
“It was you who told (us) that peaceful marches did not work.” This message to the entire government, but especially pointed at Carrie Lam’s intransigence, shows the core idea behind the violent assault on the Legco. A violent protest, I might add, that resulted in very few injuries and zero deaths.
In a final act of amazing integrity, when a group of young people realized that several of their compatriots had barricaded themselves inside the Legco building, intent upon facing off against police and facing arrest, injury, or death; alerted by telegram and with the police closing in on the building, these young people acted. They rushed back into the building, ran for their friends, surrounded them, and dragged their kicking and screaming bodies out of the Legco building. At great risk to their own lives and futures, these young people refused to let their friends become potential martyrs.
Small clashes with police ensued after this, with a few arrests and injuries, but the result was clear. Hong Kong’s government was given a massive black eye by the future of their territory. These eighteen to twenty-something people, many being university students, while doing something they knew could be condemned for by many of their families and friends, actually did something. They fought against what they saw as tyranny. They fought against the symbols of autocratic rule over their lives and, at least in the immediate short term, they dealt a major blow to the image and authority of the Hong Kong government.
These young people have risked their futures in order to let their voices be heard around the world. From Beijing to London, Washington DC, to Taipei, these several thousand Hong Kong young people risk being charged as rioters and thrown in prison for up to a decade for their actions. They are smart, well educated, and aware of the consequences if they are found out. Despite this, they had to act.
The end – Failure of government
The responsibility for all of this rests upon the government. From the very first noises of unrest against the law, Carrie Lam has been intransigent in her position. Her continued refusal to withdraw the Extradition Law, in spite of record outcry, her continued condescending claims that it’s a matter of “misunderstandings”, and her petulant and arrogant attitude toward criticism of any sort started a slow-burning fire under a kettle that was inevitably going to boil over. The continued existence of the law, even in a suspended form, will serve as a catalyst against her, and the toppling of the Legco on her watch most assuredly will seal her fate as a failed Chief Executive for Hong Kong.
The part about this that many seem to gloss over, though, is this: The young people who effectively declared war on the seat of government, are mostly people born after 1997. These people have grown up in a Hong Kong system where China and the CCP have been preached at them in school from the beginning. They are taught very slanted history lessons, given a multitude of lessons related to “social issues” from a Mainland perspective, forced to learn Mandarin for their entire school life, and even required to visit Mainland China throughout their lives as students. In spite of all of these attempts to Sino-ize these young people, all it has done is strengthen their wills to maintain their identity as Hong Kongers.
In the end, however, what happens to these young people and Hong Kong will still remain separate from the will of the people. Beijing may choose to come down hard on Hong Kong, or it may choose to be magnanimous for good will. The West may continue to allow Hong Kong’s special dispensation, or they may reclassify it as more like China, and thus bring about the end of Hong Kong as we know it. In the end, there is no self-determination for Hong Kong, but on July 1st, Hong Kong’s young people, their future, let the world know that they will not go quietly into the night.
As I prepare to celebrate the founding of my country, a country founded on the back of a war spawned by anger against an autocratic Empire, I can’t help but be proud of Hong Kong’s young people. I don’t agree with their methods, but I understand why they did what they did, and I admire their courage to fight for their future and their home. I just hope the Western nations can take a look at Hong Kong and see an example for themselves of what to be grateful for. The freedoms that the West often takes for granted and, in some cases, is actively looking to remove, were bought at the price of blood and treasure. We should reflect very carefully on if we want to give those freedoms up in any way to governments that can and will abuse their power if given too much by the people.