Hong Kong: "Umbrella revolution" on the granit

clashes between police and protesters// photo Wall Street Journal
At the 1st of October russian media REN.tv went with the news that Hong Kong protesters are led by UFO. Although we have no dount how "trustworthy" russian media is, I decided to go to Admiralty (a part of Hong Kong Island occupied by demontrators) and talk with people there. 

First of all, let's clarify what's going on. On August 31st PRC government in Beijing accepted a law, which determined the way how Hong Kong (HK) people can "elect" its Chief Executive (the city's mayor). Basically at first the candidates will go through screening process by the authorities in the capital, which select two-three candidates. After that HK people can vote for these "approved" candidates. However it's not what people in HK want - they want true election democtratic system and universal suffrage (elect its leaders without Beijing approval). The protests started by students, who banned classes and went on the streets. Later more people joined and during the holiday time (October 1st and 2nd) the demonstration hits its peak with more than 100 000 people protesting from seven+ million of hongkongers (around 1.5% of the city population took actual action and supported campaign).
Protest at its peak during the Oct 1st and 2nd holiday. UFO was detected by russian media// photo neural.it
On the occupied road at Admiralty I met Ivy and Ivan (pictured below) - student activists, who support Occupy Central campaign and took some sort of interview with them. Here I would like to highlight what I have learned from them.
Ivan (left) and Ivy (right) on the duty at Admiralty// Oct 6th 2014, own picture
"..I think it's all about freedom
The activity itself is aiming to solve much deeper issue than lack of democracy, which HK people are facing. As last edition of The Economist put it:
Many young people in Hong Kong are dissatisfied with the economy, and see a system rigged against them by the territory’s wealthy tycoons. They also resent the creeping influence of the mainland over a place they feel is special. Educated mainlanders take jobs sought by Hong Kong graduates..
Such "Chinazation" of Hong Kong, when transparency, rule of law and freedom of speech are being replaced by guanxi (personal connections, usually leads to corruption in the government). Democratic principles made Hong Kong special and rich (according to IMF and Word Bank data Hong Kong in the list of top-10 richest economies in the world). Its Anglo Saxon common law system is based on understandable to Western businesses principles and that's why for many Hong Kong is "..like a bridge to China" (which is, again, becoming the largest economy in the world).
Confused but meaningful
Xi Jinping, PRC President, has accumulated the power as no one China's leader before since 1978. Clearly he won't tolerate any pure Western-style democratic systems within China borders. In the mind of the government in Beijing, democracy can't ensure stability (cases of messy violent situation on the Middle East countries, like Iraq, Afganistan, countries of the Arab Spring struggling to adopt America-promoted democracy). Also current autocratic system can guarantee that the communist party will lead China, make it the only power on its territory. So, if the protests probably won't change PRC leaders mind - what's the point then for protesting? 
"We have no way to make government hear us.."
Ivan and Ivy find such situation "a bit confused, but meaningful". It reminds people in Hong Kong there is something more important than simply making money. HK economy is based on democtratic principles. They believe democracy is the way how hongkongers can make governmet hear its people, not Beijing only. So they are protesing - one the most civilized ways to show your disagreement with government.
Peaceful way of doing things
Avoid violence HK protests// Oct 6th 2014, own picture
"Avoid violence" is one of the basic principles for protests. "If police will use force, we will leave, but later come back. It's some sort of never give up of something". They do not fight back and when situation is getting hot, they start to sing "Happy Birthday" song in order to calm down. Some rumours said that government has hired local mafia to fight with protesters (there have been some cases, when police has used tear gas and some other groups people beat protesters, but police did not take action).
Ivan and Ivy assumed that campaign is financed half by people, volunteered HK citizens and another half comes from pro-democratic NGO, which was planning "Occupy Central Campaign" independently, but because of students were first, decided to join and support by its own force as well. For the time we were talking at the tent, at least three times some people came and asked if something is needed (like water, food, bags etc.). There is no one leader, professors from local universities come and give speeches. Everyone can give a talk on the some sort of stage, sharing his/her own experience of protesting, ideas on democracy, blaming the government and supporting the protesters stay and keep spirit high.
support for protesters - Keep Fighting// Oct 6th 2014, own picture
professor from HK Polytechnic University is giving speech on the "stage"// Oct 6th, 2014, own photo

listening to the professor's speech// Oct 6th, own photo
- What does democracy mean for you?
Well, at least it is the right to make government listen to us..
I asked whether Ivan's and Ivy's parents are aware about their involvement. At first, Ivan parents didn't suport him to come here to protest. But later they came to the protest place to "check is out" with understanding something need to be chane and it's about Ivan's future. "Of course they are worried, but now they support". Ivy comes to the protest place secretly, because parents do not support it. "Today I have a bit of free time, so I came here. But I can't stay here for the night - must come back home".
Drive to Peace, Freedom and True Democracy
Hong Kong in 20 years from now
Among the last questions I asked Ivy and Ivan - how do they see the Hong Kong in 20 years from now in case of "Bad-case scenario" (when governemt don't change its decision on how Chief Executive is elected) or "Good-case scenario" (when Hong Kong will get truly democtratic independent universal suffrage).
Hong Kong 2034 "Bad-case scenario": 
  • the first thing to lose is the language - no one speaking Cantonese (one of China's dialects called Guandonghua). Rather than people will be speaking Mandarin (official national language called Putonghua or Mandarin, known also as standard chinese);
  • no one is talking bad things about the government, no real freedom of the speech in the media and public
  • people are less friendly, not try to talk to each other. Now HK people tend to trust more strangers (trust by default), than people on Mainland. 
  • it will be very random Chinese province level city
  • once we will lose the hope - we will leave
- Will Hong Kong be one of the main global business hubs in Asia?
- It depends how Beijing will "use" us..
listening to the speech// Oct 6th 2014, own picture
 Hong Kong 2034 "Good-case scenario": 
  • mature democratic system, when one side respects another. Here Ivy shared the example of how Britain handle the case of Scotland and even though the difference in results of referendum is not big - minority respects the decision of majority, don't protest and continue to live the life as before
  • improved medical system (because of aging population "problem" in Hong Kong). The government proposes effective policy in order to provide a good care for old people)
  • solving income inequality issue. Today, some 2 million people, pr 30% of the population, live in public housing estates, and one fifth of the population lives below poverty line. Gini coeficient is 0.537, which is among the highest in East Asia (higher than UK, Singapore or the USA. 
For Ivan, the ideal country model for Hong Kong is New Zealand with good goverment care, clean environement and less working hours (12 hours per day for Hong Kong people is not a limit).

We in Ukraine have experienced our own Revolution on the Granit in 1990, when student led campaign took a place on main square called Maidan in Kyiv. Students were demanding not to sign up new USSR agreement, resignation head of the government, multi-party elections, nationalization of communist party property and making Ukrainian young man to serve the army only in Ukraine. After 16 days of hunder strike students got what they wanted - it was a successful campaign, and we can find similarities with current one in Hong Kong. 
hunger strike led by students 24 years ago against communist government in Ukraine succeeded// photo Wiki
hunger strike on Maidan, Ukraine// photo Wiki
Personally I support Hong Kong people with their goal to get universal suffrage. With this China will still have a strong influence on Hong Kong, because of city's economy is hugely connected with Mainland's. And Hong Kong people can have what they value and what is valued in most of the developed countries in the world.
What's wrong for demanding civic nomination// Oct 6th, own picture


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