July 1st in Hong Kong

Quick post with photos taken from my iPhone using Hipstamatic and Instagram from today’s annual 7/1 protest in Hong Kong.

For those who never need to know or had the chance to know about this ex-British colony that I was born and raised in, here’s some basic info:

  1. Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841 to 1997, it was returned to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) [the handover] on July 1st 1997.
  2. Hong Kong is governed as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) within the PRC, under the principle “one country, two systems” with the Basic Law (sort of like a constitution). All of this mean that HK is ruled under a separate political system (so we ARE NOT communist and we can access Facebook and other websites which are blocked in China from Hong Kong, just FYI) and a capitalist economy.
  3. There’s a catch though: this promise was only for 50 years, until 2047 (fun fact: that’s why Wong Kar Wai‘s film 2046 is named so) . Nobody knows what happens after that, but for now…
  4. Hong Kong might not be communist, but it is not fully democratic either. A large portion of our political representatives are selected by the PRC and NOT BY THE PEOPLE. Especially our Chief Executive is picked by a committee (most of it consist businessmen) handpicked by PRC… Hong Kong people do not have a vote to say who to govern them.
  5. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the handover, and the commencement of the 3rd Chief Executive CY Leung, who does not exactly have the best reputation in the city.
  6. Hong Kong people’s freedom of speech and rights have been challenged and is slowly stripping away under the influence of PRC.- Hong Kong has always been the safe haven from the PRC because of the different sociopolitical environment. For example, during the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, Hong Kong activists organized fundraisers and rallies to support the students, until today, when the PRC still denies the incident, tens of thousands of Hong Kongers gather to commemorate the deaths of the students. A more recent example is the “suicide” of activist Li Wangyang (he was found dead with a strip of cloth tied around his neck and his feet touching the ground — the man had become blind and deaf because of various tortures during his jail time), Hong Kongers marched on the streets to demand justice. (Let’s not forget other activists who were jailed or killed by the PRC as well.)- A reporter was briefly detained after asking the visiting Chinese president Hu Jintao a question regarding the Tiananmen Square massacre.

I tried my best to explain it as short as possible, there are obviously still many things I haven’t mentioned here.

Further reading:

1) BBC News article on today’s protest

2) Wikipedia

Today was actually my first time participating in the protest since it started in 2003. Walked with a lot of people for 4 hours, asked a foreigner why he was there and he said “because it’s not fair”. It’s great to have “outsiders” to recognize the problems in the small but vibrant city. The march started at the Victoria Park (a local landmark, where the annual June 4th light vigil takes place) and ended at the new Central Government Offices, which was a 3.6km distance and FILLED with people. My friend and I made it to the Offices when the fireworks almost began, along with other protestors we stayed there to watch the fireworks (it was a good spot) but people booed and put up their middle fingers. Because there was nothing to celebrate today.

Thank you for reading.

P.S. If this is tl;dr for you, and you like films, then know this: if you are fan of Wong Kar Wai and his works In The Mood For Love, Chungking Express and Days of Being Wild, and you are in love with the old Hong Kong depicted, know fully that soon enough you won’t be able to find the classic restaurants or shops in Hong Kong because the government is doing nothing but ruining these heritage in exchange for bigger and profitable businesses.

By Jessie Lau

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