Opinion: 30 years after Tiananmen, Hong Kong freedom at stake

By Eva Mo

What is home for you? A place that makes you feel comfortable, a place that holds everything you love, or a place that helps you grow?
As an international student who has studied at Whatcom for two and a half years, I hadn’t gone back to my home country until last December.
I must confess that I was a little bit afraid of going back Hong Kong, because I know that it has changed a lot in these last two years.
Not just the environment in Hong Kong, but the people and the status.
As a Hong Konger, I always think about what it is that my home country really needs. To be independent? To uphold our freedom, human rights and the rule of law till the end? Or to obey China unwillingly?
This past June 4 is the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protest, an unspeakable day for the Chinese people.
More than 180,000 people attended the June 4 vigil to mark the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in Hong Kong. There is no consensus on the actual death toll as estimates range from several hundred to 10,000.
In the decades since, China has effectively erased the evidence and suppressed common knowledge of the massacre.
At that time, there were many overseas journalists gathered there to report on the biggest democracy in China. Although there were many photos and videos proving that this protest had happened, the government still ignores it.
They officially banned all the memorials and similar events that acknowledged this protest. Fortunately, Hong Kongers and other Asians have held an annual vigil every year on June 4 in different countries.
Still, most Chinese people have no idea of the Tiananmen Square protest. So, how can people believe in a government that is hiding the truth from their own residents?
It is easy to understand why the residents of Hong Kong were frightened by the rule of the Chinese government.
This upcoming June 9 could be the biggest protest Hong Kong has seen since the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
From 1842 to 1997, Hong Kong was under British Crown rule as British Hong Kong.
The British government administration—roughly modeled after the Westminster system—in Hong Kong created their own judicial system, which was based on English law, with Chinese customary law.
Due to the proposal put forward by the government of Hong Kong to allow extradition to the mainland, China will be able to undermine the city’s judiciary breach of the handover settlement.
As a city that combined their regime with the East and West culture, Hong Kong presents a good image to the world in economics, food, transportation, and freedom.
The reason Hong Kong successfully became an economic center of the world and the top city in Asia, was because during the time that British governed Hong Kong, their law was mature, safe, and predictable enough for Hong Kong to grow as a center for international trade.
Hong Kong was handed over to China by the United Kingdom on July 1, 1997. This change made the Hong Kong mass migration wave happen. It is because most Hong Kongers at that time worried that the Chinese government would forcefully control Hong Kong.
“One country, two systems” was the commitment that Deng Xiaoping, the Paramount Leader of the People’s Republic of China offered to Hong Kong. He promised that the commitment would last 50 years.
This year will be the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China. However, the Chinese government is still trying to control Hong Kong in different ways.
Officials said the approach was designed to give the government greater flexibility under the bill, which would allow the transfer of criminal suspects on a case-by-case basis to jurisdictions the city does not have an extradition deal with, including mainland China, Macau and Taiwan.
The new bill would apply to anyone, a Hong Kong citizen, a mainlander, even foreigners traveling through the city. Anyone could be accused by the Chinese authorities of having broken Chinese law.
The new extradition law could be used to squelch any form of political opposition or dissent. Which means there will be a whole different situation in Hong Kong.
An entirely new administration that will affect the freedom of speech, and the status of Hong Kong.
This past week, a United States Congressional Commissioner sharply criticized the extradition proposal, saying it “would diminish Hong Kong’s reputation as a safe place for U.S. and international business operations, and could pose increased risks for U.S. citizens and port calls in the territory.”
As Beijing’s special administrative region’s government pushes for sweeping legal changes, it is obvious to see how it is important for them.
Could you imagine Hong Kong, a high degree of an autonomous society, becoming the puppet of the Chinese government?
As a Hong Konger, I cannot.
I love Hong Kong, but somehow it becomes a place full of stress and conflicts. By the time the 50 year agreement ends, the Chinese government will take over Hong Kong.
I cannot imagine if Hong Kong became a place that does not have freedom of speech, it would be a disaster for Hong Kong’s human rights.
China is the country that does not allow their residents to use Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Snapchat. The Chinese government wanted to control all the information on the internet. However, Google, Facebook, and YouTube are all Western companies.
Western companies are not used to sharing all the information with the government. The Chinese government wants to monitor and control all the internet content.
Yet, since the internet became the most popular method of communication, it would be easy to let their residents in on the secrets that the Chinese government was trying to cover all those years.
When I imagine Hong Kong becoming like China, I see a place I could never happily live in.
I hope Hong Kong citizens keep our own specific characteristics, such as hard-working, and passionate. No matter what kind of problems we will have in our future, we need to stay strong and deal with it. I believe we can get through it. Hong Kong may not the best place to live right now, but it is still the place I will always love.
Ray Wong Toi-yeung, a political activist from Hong Kong, and a refugee in Germany said “The Chinese government keeps repressing, but the people keep resisting.”
If you have ties to Hong Kong, you should go out and join the protest on June 9, 11 A.M, at the Chinese consulate in Vancouver.
Save your Home.

Eva Mo is a Study Abroad student and a journalism major.


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