Two weeks ago, the protests in Hong Kong made international news. It was one of the biggest crisis that has ever happened in Hong Kong. The protest was named Occupy Central and it mainly consisted of students who were fighting for universal suffrage. Hong Kong used to be part of the British colony and has developed their own identity as a financial hub with a Western twist. After 1997, they were returned to China but under a policy called “one country, two systems.” In 2017, they were promised the right to vote freely until a few weeks ago when Beijing announced that they were only able to vote with the pre-chosen candidates. People were shocked, flipped out and marched to the street.
There were about 50,000 people who occupied the streets, and mostly students between 18-25 year old, and the crowds and protests spread to some of the busiest areas of Hong Kong. People were making free speeches on the street, the walls and buses were filled with uplifting messages, tens of thousands sat on the street in support of the cause, volunteers distributed water, food and even tissues everywhere as the streets were barricaded and blocked. Schools and businesses were closed for a week. For the most part, there were no violence on the street, it was mostly peaceful except when the government disturbed it by throwing tear gases and triads forcing people off the street. BBC did an article on Things that Can Only Happen in Hong Kong, where everyone was so civilized and cleaned up their own mess. They recycled, worked as a team and even apologized for the inconvenience they had caused.
I am a Canadian-Born Chinese (CBC) and I have been very fortunate to have born and raised in a developed, multicultural city such as Toronto. My parents were originally from Hong Kong but had left over 20 years ago in fear of China’s communism governance when Hong Kong returns to China in 1997. Their fear was shared with many others and between the years of 1984 to 1997, 1 million people emigrated to Canada, USA, Australia and the UK.
Hong Kong was never a dream destination for me to live in and I never thought I would return here for more than a short vacation. I must say my life is quite ironic, as I am now working and living in Hong Kong, and currently witnessing my parent’s worse nightmare – the fear of China taking over and Hong Kong citizens losing their democratic rights.
I went out a few nights to see it in different areas. The first night I went out was the most amazing and left a mark on my heart.
It was the day after the tear gas has fired on its first weekend and things were calm again. I was obviously lucky that nothing had happened but what had experienced was nothing like the media had portrayed or what I have seen or acknowledge to what is a protest. Let me explain how humbling the experience was:
I arrived at the station, Central, and I walked out to the streets. I saw lots of crowd but nothing of a rowdy crowd. There were barely much of a noise. As I leave the station, I was passed on free surgical masks (they wear these to prevent germs being spread when you are sick in result of SARS few years ago). I kept walking, and I saw people all wearing black t-shirts, but they were just hanging out, playing on their iPhones and chilling with their friends. The yellow ribbon was on the edge of the rails and these ribbons were a symbol of democracy. A group of peopled yelled, “Dinner, dinner, dinner!” and passed sandwiches out for free. I saw barricades, and myself walking on top of highways. I described this to be my “favourite night in Hong Kong” as I have never experienced such a peaceful and quite night in Hong Kong. It was quite beautiful I must say. I finally got to see HK in a peaceful state. HK has never been more beautiful.
We kept walking and we finally found the central part of the crowd. It was about the same scene – except this time, tens of thousands of people were sitting in rows after rows. As we walked towards the crowd, we saw more volunteers. People were passing tissue packs out, water bottles, snacks and even sandwiches. These were offered free. It was amazing to see and to be among everyone because you can feel the hopeful spirit. They wanted to fight for what they believed in and they all shared a common goal. They were united by the passion to fight for their country – so the next generation would not have to. They were not going to give up and were going to fight until the end.
I have never followed the news so much in my life but this could be the protest that can change Hong Kong forever.
And I am here witnessing a historical event.
Earlier this week, the streets has cleared up and things have resumed back to normal. But two days ago, a talk between the government and the students were called off and people marched back on the streets.
No one knows what will happen in the future but I feel so humbled, amazed and privileged to be here and see how this could or could not change Hong Kong forever. My parents ran away to not see this. But somehow, I am here to see it all unfold.
Everyone has a story.
This is mine