FROM THE JOURNAL: HONG KONG, AUG 2019
A State Of Turmoil
We sat in the hotel lobby and talked in hushed tones about the fierce conflicts in Hong Kong, when Mascot felt encouraged to join us at the table. He is a student from Shenzhen, studying International Management. A circumstance that probably also prompted him to get into conversation with us. — Mascot, is said to be his nickname at the university.
We spoke about what we had heard, read and seen — that Hong Kong is in trouble and Beijing is facing a democracy movement supported by financial magnates, industrialists and wealthy Hong Kong patriots, and that there is an extravagant media battle that could compete with that on the streets. We found ourselves in a charged situation. Sensing that there was more at stake for China than the extradition law. Later we met on other occasions and did not talk about the things that would plague the Fragrant Harbour for long years.
The following day, tear gas was used against peaceful protesters in Hong Kong. Despite the violence, the protesters remained united and determined in their goals. On August 8, 2019, a massive demonstration took place, with over 1.7 million people coming together in a peaceful and unified manner, calling for a free Hong Kong.
Then, on November 24, 2019, a historic election took place, with young, China-critical candidates winning in 17 out of 18 city districts. This marked the first time that such candidates had held a majority in any of the councils. Around 2.9 million people cast their votes.
After our conversations, Mascot left Hong Kong, and so did we. Reflecting on what we had seen and heard, it became clear to us that China was creating a rigid and oppressive system that would be difficult, if not impossible, to change from within. The country was hardening both externally and internally, with its cultural framework becoming cold and unyielding. Love and truth seemed to be fading away.
Totalitarianism is a destructive force that slowly erases opposing viewpoints and groups, filling the gaps with defamation and propaganda. For Hong Kong, it seemed that these issues had become deeply entrenched and irreversible. As Europeans, it is our responsibility to work towards a society that values diversity, protects against discrimination, and upholds the fundamental rights of all people. We must stand up for freedom and human rights, and strive to create a more just and inclusive world.