Why don't we protest for Hong Kong? / なぜ香港のためにデモをしないのか
Updated: Jul 26
Work, school, family, friends; the majority of us are simply trying to live our lives the best we can. Keeping up with our own affairs is enough to drive us crazy. Who has time for the likes of politics or social issues?
A lot of people, surprisingly. And that is excellent. But with almost 8 billion people in the world (at the moment) and around 200 independent nations, it is impossible for us to stay on top of everything happening.
So how do we pick and choose?
I would say that location is the biggest factor. When we are directly affected, we care a lot more. If something terrible is going down in the neighborhood, locals will usually want to rally up and fix it.
Media also undoubtedly has a large influence on how we view our world. Racism, war, genocide, financial scams, religious persecution, terrorism; for many of us, these are not things we deal with on a day to day basis. Instead, we rely on the media for information, and the presentation of such shapes our opinions. Depending on the media, the presentation can change drastically and leads to opposing views. In addition, media tends to report on topics that are relatable or of interest to its audiences. So even in the US, whether you watch CNN or Fox News, you are more or less consuming the same content, just from different perspectives.
In that sense, could it be forgivable to assume that there are trends in what is considered "attractive news". Decisive topics are okay as long as viewers can take a side. Recent events involving BLM and police brutality make for “attractive news” because it is something people can relate to, feel a moral responsibility towards or against, and is happening close by. As injustices stack up and emotions increase, protests are inevitable and, for the most part, tolerated. Such is the glory of these non-authoritarian states where they have occurred.
In 2015, after 130 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Paris, anyone with a conscious was eager to show their support for France with Facebook's solidarity filters. Especially for Americans, terrorism tends to invoke an immediate response. There was, however, some backlash for the lack of similar reactions for incidents that occur in other, non-“Western” countries, but still a great number of people made use of the function. Again, location comes into play. Not just vicinity, but the actual region is important. It is sad, but no one is going to pay attention to, for example, the plight of a small starving village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
There are those who are vocal about these "minor" issues, but their voices are seldom heard. It is understandable. The world is vast and we cannot be expected to have sufficient knowledge about everything. Instead, we want to find a cause we can support, knowing that without a doubt our support is correct and will have an effect.
Enter Hong Kong.
Even before 2019, Hong Kongers have been protesting to protect their democratic rights and freedoms from the ever encroaching influence of the CCP and their leader, Winnie the Pooh.
In terms of location, Hong Kong is not so far away. It is a major port city and one of the biggest economic hubs of Asia. English is widely spoken there. Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, two prominent martial arts figures most of the world is familiar with, are from this city. Everyone knows Hong Kong.
Most media seems to have covered these protests, as well as the recent implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law, which essentially destroys the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, but the reactions have been bland. Timing, with COVID-19 and the recent protests for BLM and against police brutality, most definitely plays a big role, but even in the past, there has never been much major support from the general public.
So what’s going on?
I am going on a limb here, but perhaps there is an association with anything against China and Donald Trump's rambling "China, China, China”. No one wants to admit anything Trump does is correct, but if there is one thing he has done even remotely right, it would be his (perhaps coincidentally) strict stance on China. In fact, China is one of the only bipartisan issues for American politicians. This means that Democrats and Republicans agree!
Freddy Lim, a Taiwanese politician and vocalist of heavy metal band Chthonic, is very critical of China. In relation with all regions subjugated by the CCP, including Tibet, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang, he says,
“I think that the people who are with Black Lives Matter should also concern about the issues in these places because they can’t say anything for themselves. So the world needs to help them, to speak out their rights, to try to warn the Chinese government”
Hong Kong National Security Law
In case you missed it, the following have been criminalized in Hong Kong
"secession - breaking away from the country
subversion - undermining the power or authority of the central government
terrorism - using violence or intimidation against people
collusion with foreign or external forces" (source: BBC)
Protesters are being arrested, books are being banned, and pro-democracy advocates are fleeing the country or being persecuted. Government officials in many countries; including the US, Japan, and especially the UK, have spoken out in criticism over this move, but this is not something that should be left solely to the politicians. Protesting China may not be the most fashionable of protests, but I strongly hope that everyone, especially those who have recently taken up an interest in social issues, will speak out against the largest authoritarian government in history, the Chinese Communist Party. We cannot stay silent. Please talk about it.
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