News - October 9, 2014

Meanwhile in… Hongkong

In the news: Hong Kong is in the grip of mass protests for demo­cratic reform. The demonstrators demand universal suffrage and a democracy which is not controlled by China.

Commentary by Enoch Hui, MSc student of Food Technology, from Hong Kong 

‘It breaks my heart to see what is happening in my home town. Even though I am not in Hong Kong myself, my thoughts are with the people there. We have a strong tradition of protest – we do it every year. But this is the first time I have seen protests on such a large scale. 

I try to look at the situation objectively. In order to really under-stand the situation you need to go back to Hong Kong’s Basic Law. Article 45 of the Law states that Hong Kong will eventually have universal suffrage in accordance with democratic procedures. The point is that we interpret this article differently to Beijing. We want the citizens of Hong Kong to draw up their own list of candidates. But Beijing says: ‘OK, you get your democratic procedure, but we will give you a list of candidates’. But that is a procedure that is comparable with the way things are done in North Korea or Iran, isn’t it? We do not identify with countries like that: we are Hong Kong. We think Beijing is breaking the promise that was made to us: one country, two systems.

The relationship between Hong Kong and mainland China has always been tense. The cultural differences between us are considerable, and we even speak different languages. Everyone in Hong Kong knows they are Chinese but if you ask us whether we are Chinese, we either say we are Hong Kongese or that we are Hong Kong-Chinese. Within the Chinese student community in Wageningen we don’t talk about this subject much. Chinese, Hong Kongese and Taiwanese: we know our differences when it comes to the political situation. 

I hope the situation will be solved peacefully, without any casualties or deaths. Our voice is already being heard. We have already succeeded in making everyone aware of the situation in Hong Kong. But as far as a real victory is concerned, the organization of free and fair elections in 2017… I don’t see Beijing giving in to that. The government would see it as a sign of weakness: if you give in once, you will do so again. But the students of Hong Kong – who are the future too – and all of us will remember what has happened.’