Friday, June 05, 2009

Love Letters, Hate Mail: Tiananmen Square 20th Anniversary Edition

Hong Kong, I am proud of you today.

There are plenty of things I could call you. Spoiled. Apathetic. Self-centered. A sellout. Abrasive. Vain. Sneaky. Ill-mannered. And while I do believe all those to be true, last night restored my faith in the place I now call home.

The divide between Mainland China and Hong Kong is a tricky one. And I think they like it that way.

Let's assess. Since the handover in 1997, Hong Kong was deemed a Special Administrative Region of China. They say something like one country, two systems, but this is definitely not the case. I have a Hong Kong ID, I have a Hong Kong work visa, I work for a Hong Kong company. Nothing to do with China. I do have an expired China visa, and yes, that means I have to get my passport stamped every time I go into China for work. And Americans are not easily allowed entry into China. On the flip side, Mainlanders are not easily allowed into Hong Kong. There is some kind of quota so HK is not overrun with Chinese... and you wonder why there are still tensions!

Hongkongers don't want to look like Mainlanders anyway. I can sometimes tell the difference between them. They don't even speak the same language, which is an additional headache for me because I now have to attempt to learn 2 crazy languages. They drive on different sides of the road. They have different toilets. And if you were born a Hongkonger, you can never work for the Chinese government. They just don't trust you.

And yet, when I waited at immigration for my visa renewal, the place was packed with Mainlanders who obviously wanted their child born the a better place.

Let's take a look at another stark difference. Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square. Days before this anniversary China had blocked access to Twitter and Hotmail and any search or mention of Tiananmen Square. How can they do this, and how can a government deny the event, access, and information in this day in age? This is an ongoing oppression, not just a one time event. While peaceful and beautiful vigils were held around the world for this anniversary, it was business as usual in China. You would never have guessed anything of significance occurred on this day.

So as best we could on "Chinese" soil, we gathered in Victoria Park.

I may have only been 8 when this all went down, but I remember it. I remember seeing video and it struck me. Will I ever have enough courage and conviction to leave this world a better place?

Last night's vigil was orderly and peaceful, and didn't even have much police presence. There were a lot of younger people there which gave me hope that this generation may actually give a damn. We even made ABC Nightly News!

People are worried that our freedom in Hong Kong will be taken away and will become more like the Mainland. How can we possibly allow this to happen?