My blog is not a political blog, it’s a travel blog. ZoomGoes.com acts as a journal, memory book, and reference for myself and my readers. I mention reference because I always try to make my posts as informative as possible; what steps did I take to accomplish ABC, how much did it cost, how to best recreate it for yourself, etc.
I typically only write new posts when I have a new adventure to share. This is a special exception. Lately, I’ve been reliving my time in Hong Kong over and over in my mind because of the events currently going on there. I largely think about how horrible it must be for the citizens.
Unlike many of my fellow Americans, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Hong Kong. I’ve eaten the food, safely walked the streets, rode the bus, and even made friends. When my knee slipped out, I had to go to the hospital – a total cost of $84 USD for my visit, medications, and a brace. The kindness I experienced in Hong Kong has permanently given it a special place in my heart; my heart which breaks to see the citizens there being forced to go to these lengths just to get some simple freedoms. I wish there was something I could do….
Oh wait – there is! I have a voice, so I’m going to use it! No matter your level of familiarity with the current events in Hong Kong, I hope that in this post, you learn something about the people that reside there, why they are fighting so hard for what they believe in, and why they deserve to win. Then you can use your voice to help them, too.
The History between Hong Kong and China
Being right on the shore, Hong Kong is one of the largest trading hubs in Asia. Great Britain recognized this geographical advantage and leased Hong Kong from China from 1899 to 1997. As a Crown Colony, Hong Kong maintained a political model of the Westminster system (parliamentary government), offering freedom and prosperity to its citizens.
As the lease on Hong Kong ended, the citizens of Hong Kong had grown used to the ideals and lifestyle of the British and did not want to once again be under the strict regime of China. In 1984, a document called the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed that would allow Hong Kong to maintain its own economic and administrative systems independent from China through 2047; this set up is often referred to as “one country, two systems”. To China, Hong Kong is currently considered a special administrative region (SAR) that is granted a “high degree of autonomy”. Since the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, Hong Kong has established its own constitution, known as Basic Law. So far, the Basic Law has served them well despite China’s many attempts over the years to tighten its control over Hong Kong.
Why are Hong Kongers protesting?
The Hong Kong government is about to pass a bill that would allow China to extradite criminals (very loosely used in China) from Hong Kong back to the motherland. A lot of countries have arrangements like this between each other, so why is it being met with such resistance and passion?
A little context about life in China
China is currently governed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). While officially organized based on democratic centralism (meaning that political decisions are reached via a vote that binds the whole party), regular citizens of China are not able to create change for themselves through voting as we have here in the USA.
In fact, the CCP regime is incredibly oppressive in its effort to create well-managed citizens. Examples of policies are:
- Restricted & censored access to the internet (aka knowledge)
- A strict one-child per family rule
- Restrictions on freedom of speech (“Our citizens are totally allowed to protest [but only in that abandoned park 50 miles from any other human where their voices will not be heard]!”)
- Censoring of art
- Profiling of citizens based on sexuality/religion/race
- An execution policy for certain non-violent offenses (often political in nature)
Much like North Koreans who defect because they are seeking freedom, Chinese citizen flee to Hong Kong searching for a better life; one that is free from oppression, poverty, and wrongful persecution – a life where you can be free to live without fear. Hong Kong is trying to loosen China’s hold on them, not allow the grip to tighten – the passing of this bill would be a large step in the wrong direction.
Fun Fact: While ethnically Chinese, and physically located in China, many Hong Kongers do not consider themselves Chinese – especially the younger generations.Cited from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-48607723
How can I help?
Of all the places that I have traveled, Hong Kong has been the most open and welcoming. I feel that Hong Kongers have such a deep appreciation for their country that they are excited to share it with others. I know this post is a lot to read already, but I encourage you to read about these four special interactions I had with Hong Kongers during my visit and you will see a shining example of the people there – kind, considerate, and helpful. Protestors are even apologizing to tourists – how often do you see that?
Despite the obvious calm of the protestors, the Hong Kong police have used brutal methods to contain them including tear gas, water cannons, and eye-gouging. The danger to protestors now has now even elevated to non-protest areas such as the train. Currently, the Chinese military is convoying to Hong Kong and there is worry that this will turn into Tiananmen Square all over again.
Spread the word & call your representative
The protestor’s biggest asset right now is the media. Through the news, the cause and voice of Hong Kongers have a much greater reach. If you are sympathetic to the cause in Hong Kong, tell your friends about what is happening there. Share this article. Watch YouTube videos. Follow the news. Subscribe to /r/HongKong on Reddit – there are a million ways to raise awareness and each one of them could contribute to the future of a country.
If you’d like to do something more actionable, I encourage you to join me in calling your state representatives. Not sure who that is? I wasn’t either. You can find your House Representative(s) here and your Senator(s) here. Call them and tell them that you would like them to cosponsor the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019.
Let’s be the America that Hong Kong thinks we are – fighters for freedom.