Last month my dear friend Michelle (who Wednesday is sadly leaving Shanghai forever) and I made a VISA run to Hong Kong. Heading back to the hostel from the Visa office to grab our bags and head to the airport, we walked through Victoria’s Park. The roads around the park were starting to close and there were people everywhere handing out pamphlets and such. There were a few folks with megaphones. It was the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and organizations like Amnesty International, Democracy Now, and Hong Kong In-Media were setting up booths and tents throughout the park and alongside the main roads.
The event was a few hours away and everyone was still in set-up mode. Michelle and I were so bummed that we couldn’t stay for the main gathering that night which included a speech and live music. We did get to take some pictures and talk with a girl named Michelle Fong, the outreach and advocacy officer at Hong Kong In-Media. I gave Fong my Gmail, and she answered a few of my questions about the event. Here’s what she said sprinkled with a few of my pictures:
What’s the goal of gathering in Victoria’s Park?
The June 3/4 Gathering is a way to show that we demand truth about and justice for the massacre. Nowadays, many pro-establishment leaders including the number one ruler in Hong Kong do not make comment about the event. I think they want us to forget about it and move forward since China is a “rich and strong” country now and the Tiananmen Square massacre is taboo amongst the communist party, mainland China, and even sometimes in Hong Kong. This year we had somewhere between 150,000-200,000 participants at the event and the main leader in Hong Kong made no mention of the massive event. Ultimately we want to see democracy in China and for someone to admit and take responsibility for the massacre.
How does this generation of Hong Kongese view China?
This generation of Hong Kongese knows that it belongs to China politically, but we also want to maintain the current distance that we have. We want to consolidate the promise of one country-two system. We enjoy the economic growth of China, yet we treasure our own rule of law. However, the current situation is that the mainland authority tries to influence HK in social, cultural and particularly political aspects. There’s certainly been push-back from Hong Kong against this influence.
What do you foresee happening in China with its vastly growing economic sector and very new and smaller social sector?
In my opinion, those who ask for anti-corruption, democracy and justice, they are the ones who really care about the development of the nation. Most people know that the rich have the power to have their children study overseas, immigrate to other countries or to Hong Kong (we have our own passport and identity card), and transfer most of their assets out of China.
What’s going to come from China’s growing divide between the rich and the poor?
To the poor and grassroots, it is desperate. They are losing their basic human rights. The gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider and wider. This has aroused hatred and resentment towards the rich and irresponsible corporations that have come to China. The internet actually helps to ease the tense atmosphere because people have an outlet to share what they are feeling, spread news, gain support more quickly, and occasionally protest over-polluted factories. Many times it seems hopeless but we still have hope for a less corrupt system.
What organization are you with?
I work with Hong Kong In-Media, the foremost organisation in Hong Kong which aims to propel an independent media movement. Since inmediahk.net was established in 2004, we have grown into one of the most influential citizen media outlets in Hong Kong. For details, you can check it here http://inmediahk.org/about/