Witnessing History at the Hong Kong Protests

October 2, 2014
china, living abroad
Hong Kong Protests

pink pangea foreign correspondentFor days I have heard sirens and horns honking–very unusual for Hong Kong drivers. Workers in my neighborhood have had complaints of traffic blocks and long walks from the bus and train stations. Peaceful demonstration in Central were now in progress. The word on the street was that a 17-year-old named Joshua Wong was leading a group of classmates and demonstrators to boycott school and protest against the Hong Kong government’s (backed by Beijing) corruption. On Saturday evening, he was arrested and treated as a criminal. He has done nothing illegal according to Hong Kong law.

My husband had forbidden me to travel east of Connaught towards Central to get involved. He is afraid as many Hong Kong people are afraid of being arrested or gassed. Tonight I had to see the protests for myself.

The IFC Mall was quiet. While usually it is a thriving destination on any other night of the week, tonight, at 8 p.m., it was eerily subdued. I enquired as to what was happening in the Mall and heard news that stores were supporting the protest demonstration by closing early. Another woman told me that the Hong Kong government had cancelled all celebrations for the 65th birthday of the Communist Party to help ease the tension and show protest support. That means that on October 1, there will be no fireworks in Victoria Harbor for the Communist Party’s 65th birthday.

My husband had forbidden me to travel east of Connaught towards Central to get involved. He is afraid as many Hong Kong people are afraid of being arrested or gassed. Tonight I had to see the protests for myself.

As I approached the scene on Central Connaught Road an incredible landscape of people surrounding the Financial Square tying barricades together lay before me. A young girl was shouting, “No photos please” in English and Cantonese. People were donating umbrellas as if they were sacrificial offerings for the cause. I imagined they were trying to protect themselves from tear gas. But I also read that it was a symbolic gesture. I met a local man who studied in Logan, Utah. He felt that in the end, Hong Kong and China’s relations could bare similarities to that of the Chinese and Taiwanese relationship–estranged with political differences.

In Central Connaught, fifteen minutes from my door, was the largest demonstration Hong Kong has ever witnessed. Young, middle age, and elderly people stood up for democracy. Freedom to choose. Freedom to vote for a government that was promised to them when Britain handed them back to China in 1997. They were promised to be Hong Kong SAR Special Administrative Region until 2047. But now a CY Leung government backed by a Communist Beijing had reneged on the treaty.

Minutes from my door, history is happening. Beijing thinks Hong Kong is confused. I think Hong Kong’s future is the hands of seventeen-year-old Joshua Wong and his fellow classmates.

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong Protests

About Rita Nielsen

Rita NielsenRita Nielsen is a Maine native and mother of two and grandmother of one dragon baby and one very young colt (horse baby). Her blog is about what inspires her, where she has been, where she is and where she wants to go.

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