Hong Kong down but not out in struggle for democracy


Guillaume Payen/NurPhoto/Zuma Press/MCT

Tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators gather in Hong Kong's Admiralty District on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, after the government canceled talks with the Hong Kong Federation of Students.

The fires of protest blazing in Hong Kong cannot be allowed to die beneath the heel of the “People’s Republic” of China. The notion that modern day China is either a republic or representative of the people is drivel bordering on offensive. However, their self-assured control and suffocation of a once-democratic Hong Kong is inexcusable.

Hong Kong was a colony of England for over 150 years. The English returned Hong Kong to Chinese control in 1997, leaving behind a legacy of democratic rule and a unique cultural identity—an identity founded in capitalist economics and a unique language.

Since China reclaimed Hong Kong, it has attempted to strip the city of its identity as a culture apart from China. The Chinese government refuses to acknowledge Cantonese—the language of Hong Kong—as an independent language, classifying it instead as a “dialect” despite the vast linguistic differences.

The latest offense—and cause of the protests—is the recent law passed in Beijing that mandates all candidates for the 2017 Hong Kong election be selected by a board of pro-Beijing officials before facing election.

This cannot be allowed to happen.

Hong Kong cannot back down from this conflict of freedom. Beijing is tightening its grip on media and government…and suffocating the democratic principles of the city.”

People all over the world have sharp opinions towards China. Mayfield’s Academic Enrichment Program director Shirlee Shoben said, “That country, in my opinion, is so wrong in what they do.”

Not only is the act by Beijing a blatant power grab for the Socialist party, but it is also a clear violation of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, which Hong Kong’s government website reports was adapted to protect the economic and political systems of regions like Hong Kong.

The thousands of protestors that blockaded many major roads in Hong Kong were united in their understanding that they have a right to their liberties. Even though Beijing has disbanded the protest groups after a 79-day stand, the protestors will not give up. As the police cleared away the last of the protestors out of the Admiralty district, they chanted, “We will be back.”

Hong Kong cannot back down from this conflict of freedom. Beijing is tightening its grip on media and government, restricting the overall freedom of press and suffocating the democratic principles of the city.

However, there is an entire generation of democratic Hong Kongers that have vowed to oppose Beijing’s dominion over their city. The New York Times interviewed Charlotte Chan, a 19-year-old nursing student, who said, “This is the start, the very beginning, and the pressure will accumulate—the next protests will be more aggressive.”

In the wake of the first protests in China since Tiananmen Square, Hong Kong has emerged battered, but not defeated. In fact, the revolutionary spirit that united the protestors is burning stronger as Beijing opposes them. However, China is not a threat to be taken lightly, and the protestors cannot waver in their resolve if they wish to succeed.

Mayfield senior Alexandria Domoracki said, ““[China’s] government has control issues—like they’re the overbearing father figure.”

The current protests fell apart because the factions at Admiralty and Occupy Central became divided. There were too many leaders, and their differences led to inner conflict that weakened the resolve of the protests. If Hong Kong is to emerge at the helm of its own destiny, they must organize behind a single set of principles, under a united body of leaders that are representative of the city.

The elites of the Socialist Party in Beijing are not fools. Given any opportunity, they will act decisively to tear down democratic opposition to their power. However, they can never win over the generation of Hong Kongers that have turned against Beijing. According to the latest information cited by The Diplomat, Hong Kong polls reflect its citizens’ resentment toward China:

The percentage of Hong Kongers that identify themselves as primarily Chinese…was only 31% in the most recent poll. Even more significant, the number of young people…who claim an exclusively Chinese identity has dropped from 20-30 percent to a mere 4-8 percent.”

The revolutions in Hong Kong are the beginning of a push for freedom and equality in socialist China. The citizens have spoken their minds, and they will not back down until something changes. The struggle for democracy will not be easy. But Hong Kongers are united by their culture and their desire for freedom—they have something worth fighting for, and they will be back.