Opinion: Hong Kong protest perspective

Contact Albert Fisler at [email protected].

Albert Fisler

Protests have been taking place in Hong Kong this week in hopes to paralyze Hong Kong’s financial district. These protests have begun in response to Hong Kong’s limited and predetermined list of candidates for the Chief Executive election in 2017, as well as the Legislative Council elections in 2020. The protests have taken the name “Occupy Central,” referring to Hong Kong’s central district, which plays off of the United States’ protests of “Occupy Wall Street.”

Benny Tai, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, first initiated the protests. Tai protests for pro-democracy, which responded to Hong Kong allowing voters to only choose from a preselected list of candidates. Hong Kong was a former British colony, and was handed back to China in 1984 even though the foreign and defense affairs would still be handled by a foreign power. In 2004, China ruled that it must approve of any changes to Hong Kong’s election laws. However, in June and July of this year, activists held an unofficial referendum followed by protests. As recently as Aug. 31, China allowed direct elections to be taken place in Hong Kong in 2017, but voters would only be able to choose from a list of pre-approved candidates. 

In order to get a more relevant perspective on this situation, I asked my friend from China, Hang Gu, about his thoughts on the protests. He notes that Hong Kong is different from the mainland China in their political system, lifestyle and language. 

“Hong Kong people want more democracy and freedom,” Gu said. “They want to elect their government and the leader of it (the Chief Executive). They do not want government intervention by Beijing’s government,” Gu said. “Before 1997, Hong Kong belonged to the United Kingdom. Before its return to China, Beijing government promised that the civilians of Hong Kong could elect their government and Chief Executive.”

There’s a basic policy in China: one country, two systems.

“The socialist system and policies shall not be practiced in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years,” Gu said.

Recently, the people of Hong Kong do not trust their Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying, and believe he is taking orders from mainland China, Gu tells me.

“There is a problem with the election,” Gu says. “So, they [the Hong Kong people] want a government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

It seems that the United Kingdom’s colonization of Hong Kong has a lasting effect on the people’s way of life. Still, they would like to be treated like civilians rather than members a former foreign territory.

 “In my opinion, although we [China] are an authoritarian country, Hong Kong is different than the mainland of China. It was been ruled by the United Kingdom for more than one hundred years. We have a lot of difference. So, we should respect the choice of the people of Hong Kong. Our government should honor their promise; do not interfere with the Hong Kong Government,” Gu said. “But I do not want the protest turn into violent conflict and our country becomes divided. I hope the two sides find a peace way to resolve the problem.”

Special thanks to my friend Hang Gu for his opinions and research.