Fire set by protesters blocks the entrance to the MTR Central station stop in Hong Kong on Sept. 8, 2019.(Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)
Diamond Bar High School

Opinion: Hong Kong’s view of the protest movement

Is Hong Kong a part of China? The answer is an unequivocal “yes.”

Hong Kong has been affiliated with China since ancient times. Historians discovered Hong Kong on the map of China during the Ming Dynasty in the 13th century.

However, Hong Kong was ruled by the British for over a century where it had more freedom of speech and press, which is totally different from the system in China. Over a century of colonization,  a distance between China and Hong Kong has opened up in many ways. 

Even though the two governments were practicing different systems of government, most Hong Kongers saw themselves as Chinese during that colonial time.

The Hong Kong 1967 Leftist riots, a movement that tried to overthrow the British government, resulted in many deaths. Then, in 1997, Hong Kong officially returned back to China through an agreement with the United Kingdom.

On that day, both the Chinese and Hong Kongnese were happy. In order to make sure that Hong Kong can adapt to the Chinese governing system, the Chinese government had signed an agreement for a policy of “one country, two Policy,” which meant Hong Kongers can have their own government.  

The return of Hong Kong should have been an event of national celebration as Hong Kong was being reunited with its historic motherland of China, but why are the people of Hong Kong engaged in an intense protest against the government today?

Hong Kongers identify themselves as being Chinese survivors to this day and shows that before the return of Hong Kong, most identified themselves as either “Chinese Hong Konger” or “Hong Konger Chinese.”

Also, during 1997 and 2006 their identification as “Hong Kongese” decreased, and meanwhile their identification as “Chinese” increased.

However, from 2009 the identification of “Chinese” decreased by about 7% and only 21% of people see themselves as “Chinese,” while the identification of “Hong Kongese” increased by 11%, according to Ming Pao News.  

Many people believe that it happened all because of the “one country, two policy” system, where China allows Hong Kong to have its own government system for 50 years. Since Hong Kongese had been colonized by the British for about 100 years, it has already become a place that was practicing democracy.

Also, because of the promise of the Chinese government to respect and uphold the separate system, the Hong Kongese believed that they can have their own governor and also have freedom.

However, the Chinese government would not allow them to do that and even controlled the people’s freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Moreover, in 2000, the Chinese government established the “Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language,” which made Mandarin the official language in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, more Chinese migrated to Hong Kong and thus raising the demand and cost of housing, and it led to lots of Hong Kongners not even being able to afford housing prices, with many becoming homeless. More Hong Kongers feel despair and disappointment regarding the Chinese government. 

As the days pass, many people (especially Hong Kongese students) initiated either large or small movements to protest for their rights. But all of them are being pushed down by the police force.

For example, the Umbrella Movement in 2014 ended in failure. It was also a big national event that happened in Hong Kong, but one difference between the 2014 and 2019 protest movements is that not many Chinese people knew about the 2014 movement.

Now, the internet is even more widely available, and also the Chinese government allowing the Chinese people to hear about the protests. The protesting students use the internet to spread their situation in Hong Kong, and this 2019 Hong Kong protest has become a piece of worldwide known news.

After introducing the Hong Kong views of this even, let’s turn our views to how Chinese people look at this protest.

Under the current Chinese society system, public demonstrations are an incomprehensible thing, so they cannot understand the purpose of Hong Kongese protesting. There is a fierce struggle between the police and protesters.

Some of the protesters are arbitrarily destroying the society and some march under the slogan of “Hong Kong Independence.” This also involved gang activity.

They destroyed roads, set up roadblocks, damaged the airport, disrupted the railway station, smashed shops, wounded innocent people and destroyed the Chinese flag and national emblem. 

These kinds of behaviors were not clearly explained in the Chinese media propaganda, which led to the distortion of the original purpose of the protests. At the same time, the Hong Kong police used tear gas to attack innocent people, and they did so by brute force.

For example, on the evening of Aug. 11, a female reporter’s eye was injured by police and possibly caused permanent blindness, as reported by BBC. These violent acts have made the Chinese notice the importance of this event, and many Chinese advocate the peaceful treatment of Hong Kong protesters.

However, more Chinese media reports describe the protesters becoming terrorists who advocate for independence, which has caused panic among the Chinese. Regrettably, people in China cannot see the reason for this movement.

Their misunderstanding makes them think that Hong Kongese directly wants independence instead of what they are actually requesting, the freedom of speech and press. So the Chinese do not support Hong Kong’s “independence”, which is not the main goal of Hong Kong’s protest movement.

Many Chinese believe that this is an event organized by outsiders and that there are bigger countries that control it all behind the scenes. They believe that it is the support from the United States or the United Kingdom that has led to the expansion of this movement.

However, Hong Kong people realize that Lin Zhenyu, the current leader in charge of Hong Kong, does not manage this event, and this movement will have no end. Through those reasons, I can only say that the original purpose of the protest movement in Hong Kong is undamaged.

However, as the days past and with some big organizations purposely involved, the protest movement in Hong Kong has become complicated and dangerous.

We can’t just look at one side of things. People need to understand each others’ needs and make a series of solutions, instead of letting the people guess and have disputes over misunderstandings. The Chinese government also needs to respond to this and let the people think rationally.