Perhaps ever since I realized that Hong Kong was distinct from the rest of China in that it is not under quite the same communist grip and has an atmosphere in which Cantonese thrives, I’ve been wondering this myself. This question took on more meaning when I came to a deeper understanding of democracy and learned that Hong Kong people did not have the right to elect their leaders despite promises of universal suffrage.
This portion of Hong Kong University law professor Michael C. Davis’s op-ed in the New York Times articulates thoughts that have been on my mind recently:
Who will stand up for Hong Kong? Major international banks and accounting firms are toeing Beijing’s line, saying publicly that mass protests will disrupt the city’s economy and threaten the peace. Except for the usual expression of support for “credible” elections, Washington and other foreign governments have largely remained silent on Beijing’s latest moves.
On a side note, a few days ago, I was looking over some journal entries I wrote when I visited Hong Kong four years ago. I was surprised to realize that even though I wasn’t interested in or knowledgeable about Hong Kong politics and democracy and whatnot at the time, I was somewhat aware of political developments in Hong Kong. In 2010, there was the “起錨/Act Now” campaign about electoral reform. I found in one journal entry (June 19) a description of my mom’s conversation with a taxi driver who said my family was lucky to be able to live in the States because we have a real democracy. I wrote this about the democratic reform package: “It will create functional constituencies or something like that. Some think it will lead Hong Kong and China to real democracy; others say Hong Kong’s government will just act as China’s puppet.” Based on something watched on TV, another entry (June 23) read: “Hong Kong was promised a democratic government when it was handed back to China, but [Hong Kong people] can only vote for [Beijing-]selected men. Young people are angry about it — they’ve been fighting for it since the 1980s, and it has spread to people born in the 1980s! Right now, Hong Kong has lots of functional constituencies(?). People in their late 40s to 50s, though, don’t really seem to care — if they can do business and earn money, why should they be sad? Andrew Cheng resigned from the Democratic Party because he felt Beijing would be using Hong Kong (puppet). Donald Tsang, Albert [Ho?] can be seen as traitors or good people for accepting the Beijing plan.” I vaguely remember watching the news on July 1st, but I don’t remember whether I watched reports on the annual demonstration and understood what was going on. Aside from my poor writing style, I was surprised and discouraged to find that Hong Kong’s political situation from four years ago so much resembles that of today. It almost seems as if no progress has been made in these four years, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not hopeful about the impact social groups like Scholarism will make and are making in Hong Kong society…