Protest hides in plain sight in Hong Kong

On a very clear day, I climbed Lion Rock, an iconic peak in Kowloon that provides gorgeous views of Hong Kong to intrepid vacationers. In 2019, the grandiose rock was commonly adorned with protest indicators. Leaning towards the tree trunk, I really feel my thumb slide into the groove. I search for and squint to see “八三一” engraved on the trunk, the Chinese language characters for the quantity 831. Simply as Neo realized to learn the code, the identical numbers started to drift earlier than my eyes as I walked down the path, one thing supernatural. and persistently, carving tree after tree: 831, 831, 831. I grabbed the telephone: 8/31, date “Prince Edward Incidentwhen police brutally beat protesters on the Prince Edward tube station after which closed it to emergency providers.

A Google seek for 831 rapidly led me to 721, the Yuen Lengthy incident on July twenty first, which additionally included violent clashes between police, protesters, and counter-protestors. Democratic Celebration Chairman Wu Chi-wai condemned the arrest of Lam Cheuk-ting, then a Democratic Celebration politician, declaring that “the accusation is ‘calling a deer a horse’ and misrepresenting proper and unsuitable.”

My thoughts hummed, clicked again. Months earlier than, whereas listening to an indie band beloved for his or her politically subversive lyrics, I ended up in a espresso store in Kowloon that they sing about. Just a few doorways down, I noticed a curious T-shirt in a store window: it had an image of a deer with the caption “it is a horse.”

I started to piece issues collectively to grasp how companies and folks round me label themselves—how they stick their tongue out to leaders by sticking their tongue of their cheeks; how coded interactions allowed them to search out one another and construct a group.

Just a few weeks later, I nod absently throughout a dialog when my acquaintance sighs, “You simply cannot level to a deer and name it a horse.” My eyes go up. They catch my eye. – Do you perceive what I’m speaking about? they ask pointedly. “I perceive,” I replied. We alternate silent understanding nods, each realizing that one thing essential has occurred between us. Surveillance fosters mistrust, and so dialog usually takes place solely between the traces. These coded gestures are under no circumstances an act of cowardice resulting from the truth that they “don’t converse their thoughts”, they signify a deep measure of belief, an obligation to recollect collectively.

As Milan Kundera as soon as wrote: “The battle of man towards energy is the battle of reminiscence towards oblivion.” Within the face of Beijing’s will, this can be all that is left for these in that metropolis who took to the streets with ardour simply three years in the past. But it surely’s not nothing. Certainly not. Studying to see one thing the place there’s nothing sounds paranoid, however it’s truly the one bulwark towards revisionism in a metropolis that has to cope with the paradox of the best authorities. Final 12 months, two unbiased newspapers had been closed for per week and their employees arrested. However Carrie Lam, then chief government of Hong Kong, argued that whereas newspapers pose a risk to nationwide safety, shutting them down has nothing to do with the Nationwide Safety Act or censorship. Responding to questions that the current elections had been a “one-man race” with just one candidate operating in an election, Maria TamDeputy Director of the CPPK China Fundamental Legislation Committee, stated“Having only one individual operating for [chief executive’s] workplace does not imply we’ve fewer decisions” is a semantically illogical assertion.

The paradoxical double entender in Hong Kong right this moment happens not solely as a scattering of separate incidents, but additionally deeply existentially. Earlier this 12 months, information of recent textbooks for schoolchildren in Hong Kong who would declare that Hong Kong was by no means a British colony. In his speech on the handover anniversary celebration, President Xi Jinping said that “true democracyin Hong Kong started solely after Hong Kong was returned to China. In response to a query from the UN Committee on Press Freedom and disbanded NGOs, Secretary of State for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Eric Tsang replied: countered in protection that “in actual fact, democracy has made a qualitative leap ahead since returning dwelling in 1997.” All this represents a disaster of rhetoric and beliefs. If Hong Kong was by no means a colony, it couldn’t be “returned”, but when it was, then what was celebrated on the primary of July? In the meantime, activists of the democratic motion are thought-about unpatriotic and persecuted. Is it attainable to grasp whether or not democracy is fascinating or not? Does Hong Kong have it or not?

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