Hong Kong: Paradise Lost

I visited Hong Kong in 2011.  After forty minutes of entry formalities at customs, I stepped into Hong Kong, a land of ridiculous housing price, luxury hotels and restaurants, fast walking people, and a touch of freedom that as a Chinese, I have never dreamed of.

Hong Kong people burning Chinese national flag in a protest

As a Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong is special in many ways: both pro-Mao and anti-Mao books sit shoulder by shoulder in the book store, newspaper headlines displayed flamboyantly radical political views, and radio broadcast spurns the government’s new policy.

In 2010, Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post published on its website an interview to the wife of Nobel winning dissident, Liu Xiaobo; in the same year, a Hong Kong publisher New Century Publishing Co. was brave enough to bring the Chinese edition of China’s Best Actor: Wen Jiabao to the readers. The book, written by an influential Chinese writer criticised Wen Jiabao, a popular leader of the communist party for being hypocritical and fraudulent.

But it is questionable how long the legacy of colonial-era human right law will continue to shield the place. In 2010, a Hong Kong bank handed over Zhou Yongjun, a prominent protester emerged from the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, and the later was sentenced to 15 to nine years in prison and an $11,700 fine.

In 2011, another protester of Tiananmen Square, Wang Dan (lives in Taiwan) was denied entry into Hong Kong on his way to the funeral of a leading democracy campaigner. In a recent poll among local journalists in Hong Kong, 36% of them admitted that they had tried to cover-up unwelcome truths in the past seven years. There are apparent signs Beijing is exerting ever-increasing strong influence on the land of liberty.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong being handed over to China and luckily coincides with the beginning of a five-year-term of the new Hong Kong leader, Leung Chun Yin. Chinese president Hu Jintao paid a prompt visit to the ceremony and accepted Mr. Leung’s oath of service.Waiting for him outside of the hall was an estimated 60,000 to 400,000 disgruntled protestors burning the Chinese national flag.

Ever since the reunification in 1988, Hong Kong people make the most of their one-day holiday on the 1st of July to take to the street and make their voice heard. In 2003, the mass protest even led to the resignation of the then government leader. However, following the stormy protest were celebratory fireworks that lit up Victoria Harbour that evening.

Helicopters of paratroopers from the People’s Liberation Army landing in Victoria Park the other day to continue the pomp. Beijing conspicuously paid no heed to Hong Kong people’s contempt; it also totally blocked information from leaking back to mainland China.

Hong Kong is not my favourite city, but it is a place where I put my hope. It is a vulnerable link of a heavily guarded wall and could be a breaking point when changes happen, as long as it will not be forged into one solid part of the great wall.

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