Americans can learn a thing or two about protests from the city of Hong Kong. We’re witnessing a beautiful culture, a resilient people clinging on to democracy as its final miracle to save them from a cultural extinction event, inevitably coming in 2047.
For those not in the know, Hong Kong is unique among Chinese cities because it was British-owned until 1997, when Communist China took over. Hong Kong was spoiled by democracy, often sporting a deep dislike for Mainland China and its people. To quell rebellion, China offered a “one country, two government” system that retained the city’s democracy…except it was a farce. Hong Kong’s bureaucracy is run by special interest groups, puppets of the Chinese government. So, since Hong Kong’s democracy is slated to expire anyway in 2049, what’s the point of the protests? Why is an entire city so passionate about a losing battle?
Hong Kong people know their culture is dying. As a product of the ol’ colonial age, they are a rare success story of Western expansionism and its greatest gift of democracy. They have their own language (Cantonese), their unique philosophy (democracy) and a pride that they’re classier than the Mainland Chinese. Multiple generations of Hong Kong people see themselves as “Hong Kong people”, not “Chinese”… a word that’s associated with “Communist” or, as they usually call it, the “Mainlanders”.
These massive protests are made for the Western world’s eyes, like a dying abused spouse on Stage 2 cancer deliberately having an affair with the husband’s hated rival on Facebook Live. Hong Kong is a former beauty, the once “Pearl of the Orient”, the lone magnificence in an Asia decimated by centuries of Western mingling. And China wants to crush it, *will* crush it in 2047 or earlier if it could, because Hong Kong represents the decades of Western tease, the anti-Sinoism that laughed at their country when it was poor and disrespected. To the Mainland Chinese, what the West calls “tyranny” is what they and their parents have known for their entire lives. They’re used to it. They see Western democracy as instruments of oppression; they see Hong Kong as pawns of Western mingling.
The experience between a “Mainlander” and a “Hong Kong person” differ greatly. While China has experienced three decades of unprecedented economic growth, Hong Kong has experienced major financial decline. Young adults are more unemployed than ever. The trigger point of the protests are the differences between laws and values. Mainlanders cherish modern times and what will be; Hong Kong people cling on to the glories of the past.
Protests are Western by nature. In an Asia quickly finding itself losing filial piety in all aspects of its society, Hong Kong’s gloriously staged protests are perhaps one of the most pro-Western things of all. China is saying “We talk, you listen. You do what we say because we’re the big parent.
You’re traitors. You side with the foreigners.” These protests from Hong Kong are a big “Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.” The dying wife who’s sticking it to her abusive husband. I know Asians in diaspora are divided on this, but what I think these massive protests prove, regardless of how much or how little we despise white expansionism and white supremacy, is that we love democracy, the Western world’s greatest gift. In the end, this is the whole point of the protests. Hong Kong, as we know it, will fall, but the world will see and know its last stand.
P.S.: I know I left a lot of the protesting details out, like the extradition laws, etc. I feel that by not getting into specifics, the point of this article will be more timeless, be relevant in the future to whatever the next protest. They’re all similar themes, after all, which is: fuck the Chinese government sticking their nose to Hong Kong democracy.