It’s amazing the amount of love and safe wishes I have gotten this past week from family and friends due to the protests happening in Hong Kong, and as much as I appreciate it, I am not the one who needs it. For those who don’t know, Hong Kong is currently home to a movement called Occupy Central and something more recently labelled the Umbrella Revolution. Now, I don’t claim to know all the sides of this, nor do I claim to be a pro on the topic. I am far from it. What I do know is this. Hong Kong and China exist in something that they call “one country, two systems.” This means that when the UK handed Hong Kong to China, the main government in Beijing allowed Hong Kong to have certain freedoms that are not allowed for mainland Chinese people.
These rights include things such as freedom of speech and freedom of press (this is also why I am allowed on Facebook in Hong Kong, but in China I would not be). Beijing stated that in the 2017 elections, Hong Kong would be allowed to chose their own leader as opposed to just one Beijing appointed. Recently, Beijing has seemed to back out of these agreements and stated that it would allow Hong Kong to vote for their leader, however the list of candidates would be vetted by Beijing, and ultimately the person in power would be someone who is pro-Beijing. For this reason, the people of Hong Kong are angry (and rightfully so). Mainly people are worried that China is trying to slowly but surely incorporate Hong Kong and take away the freedoms which have been allotted to the people of Hong Kong and not those of China. The people of Hong Kong are protesting peacefully for democracy, which in this day and age, I personally feel as if they have every right to.
However, as peaceful as these protests have been, the Hong Kong police responded with an unusual amount of force, wearing militia style gear, carrying militia style guns with rubber bullets, and even using tear gas on peaceful protestors. The protestors are using goggles, masks, and umbrellas for protection against the tear gas, but some have still been injured in some of these clashes. The protestors have even been seen having their hands up in the Ferguson-protest style of “hands up don’t shoot” (hitting a little close to home). Despite the injuries and the use of unnecessary police force, the masses keep coming, and keep fighting (peacefully) for a cause that they believe in.
I am by no means an expert on this subject, and I am fully aware that there may be details I have gotten wrong. However, these are some of the things that I have stumbled upon as I spend more and more time researching the topic and speaking with friends who have been inside the protests. While Hong Kong has been my home for a short time, it holds a pretty special place in my heart. Despite the grumbling and moaning that I do occasionally, these people are some of the best in the world. They have every right to protest peacefully for a cause that was promised to them and to fight for something they believe in with every fiber of their being.
As a person who has grown up in a place with a fairly decent amount of freedoms allotted to me, I can’t imagine what it is like to fight for something like this. I am not naive enough to believe that the American government is perfect, I know that is far from the truth; however, I am given choices that allow me to have some sort of voice in my future and my future leader. I am given the opportunity to choose. That is all these people are fighting for: a chance to be able to choose their own future, a chance to participate in that decision making process. That is why I choose to wear my yellow ribbon in solidarity with those fighting for this cause. I believe these people are fighting for a just cause, and I only hope that the conflict is resolved peacefully.
Most of the information I have gotten is from this article, which offered me a pretty great explanation of what was going on, and probably does a lot better at explaining everything than my ramblings did: http://www.vox.com/2014/9/28/6856621/hong-kong-protests-clashes-china-explainer
I highly suggest reading it. Meanwhile, as I appreciate all the well wishes and hopes for safety, send them towards the people who really need it; for the people who are camped out in areas over the city, the people who have had tear gas thrown at them and have had to deal with unnecessary force in order to prove their point. Send your support to them, because I know that’s what I will be doing.
On a much much lighter note, I have finally visited a beach in Hong Kong, and I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it was. No offense Lake Michigan, but you’ve got nothing on Hong Kong and Shek O beach. The beach itself was so wonderful, and the water was ridiculously warm. I can’t even begin to explain how fantastic it was. I could probably spend the rest of my life as a beach bum and be perfectly content. I don’t think I need anything more in my life than a beach, some sand, and a little bungalow; a fruity little drink in a pineapple couldn’t hurt either 😉