What is Hong Kong afraid of? Of no longer being free, like China
A Chinese priest explains what fascinates Hong Kong's way of life: freedom of speech, of press, of religion, in short, what is lacking on mainland China. One of the rare public interventions of Chinese from the motherland to defend Hong Kong. On the very day the National People's Congress passed a national security law that threatens to destroy the liberal experience of the former British colony.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - What pushes the people of Hong Kong to shout, demonstrate, risk being arrested? The answer is simple: the fear of ending up like China, where respect for human dignity is lacking and where religious freedom is lacking. This is what is written in this article p. Stanislaus, a Chinese priest, who has already spoken several times on AsiaNews. Recounting his visit to Hong Kong a few years ago, Fr. Stanislaus vividly highlights what the "one country, two systems" principle means, which makes Hong Kong different from popular China. Just today, the National People's Assembly voted on a Hong Kong security law to prohibit and prevent secession, subversive activities, foreign interference, terrorism, offenses against the motherland. The point is that demonstrations such as those taking place in Hong Kong in recent months, calling for democracy, are branded as "terrorism" by China and religious actions not controlled by the state are considered "criminal actions".
Reflecting on a comparison between Hong Kong and China, Fr. Stanislaus has left some empty spaces of unwritten words (perhaps to avoid censorship or arrest), which we have tried to interpret and we have filled those blanks with our own deductions in square brackets. Translation from Chinese by AsiaNews.
A decade ago, I was once in Hong Kong, and I exclaimed: but hasn't Hong Kong already returned to the motherland? Why do you need a pass to go there, as if going abroad?
The Church of Hong Kong took on all the expenses for the four of us, assigning a deacon to accompany us as a guide. It was during the May 1st holidays and we ran into a demonstration. They told us: “Don't be surprised. Demonstrating in Hong Kong is a very normal thing. Whenever citizens have requests to submit, they organize a demonstration. The HK government is also used to this. This time their request is to take care of lower-class workers and low-income earners.”
The Church also took part in the demonstration, so that we too joined them. There were personalities belonging to different social classes, and even of all nationalities, shouting the slogan: "I have already done my job, but no one cares about me", or chanting. There was the police who filmed the groups participating in the demonstrations and on the route, took care of traffic problems, maintaining order and safety until the arrival of the last stage, in front of the entrance of the government headquarters in Hong Kong.
Along the way I saw a banner with the inscription: "God condemn him!". It really shocked me and I wanted to photograph the sign, but one of my companions said to me: "Better not". Instead, the locals were so used to it that they laughed about it.
On the roof of a building I also saw a huge sign saying "Jesus is the Lord". And I asked: “Does that building belong to the Church? Or is it a parish? ”. They replied no: those four characters are only an advertisement of Christianity. In addition to the churches, remains of ancient churches, religious bookstores, etc. were frequently visible along the way. Each had its own advertisement or poster; at the metro stops there were also free newspapers available to everyone.
People like us, especially tourists, stopped walking every so often. Instead the locals always walked in a hurry; their steps were so quick that they almost seemed to run. In particular, near the Central district, they seemed even more anxious and they explained that the pace of life in Hong Kong is very fast and people are always under stress. This is why in the evening or on the weekend they need to lie down to avoid collapsing, so some go to church, others to discos.
The last chief of the executive, on his own initiative, contacted the bishop of Hong Kong, asking the diocese to build a parish in a specific neighborhood that did not have one. The chief executive said: "People are under too much stress. If there was no place to lie down, many people would go crazy. For this reason, parishes exist, not only for the Church ”. With this in mind, he had ceded part of the public garden to build the church.
The church has undertaken many initiatives, such as the hotel where we were staying; it manages about 300 schools, hospitals, etc., but also many charitable institutes. Caritas, for example, is a charity center that enjoys the trust of all society. Church-founded hospitals or schools have an excellent social reputation; Several service centers have also been created, including those that provide pastoral and spiritual assistance in hospitals or prisons.
I saw many young people, non-Christian children who went to church on weekends or holidays to do some service, participating in the charitable activities organized by the Church, each of them expressed great passion and love.
And today, I see them bent with sadness ...
Poured out onto the streets, they seem to have gone mad, not only the young people, but also many elderly people and children who scream and protest. And although many people have been arrested, they still struggle. What are they afraid of?
Maybe I know what they fear. They don't want to create a political department in schools; they don't want the [Party] to run the schools and hospitals; they do not want the crosses and churches to be demolished; they do not want foreign missionaries to be forced to flee; they don't want houses demolished; they do not want to demonstrate [only] with the permission of the authorities; they do not want to report problems only with the approval of their senior; they don't want to be… .; they don't want to become [political] prisoners; they don't want to be like us.
I don't want it either, so come on Wuhan! Cowardly people like me, don't have the courage to cheer on other places[i]!
[i] During the peak of the pandemic, in China people shouted "Come on Wuhan!", In Chinese: "Wuhan jia you!". During the same period, in the demonstrations for democracy in Hong Kong, people shouted: "Xiang Gang jia you!", "Come on Hong Kong!". The last sentence is ironic and suggests that "cowards" will not cheer for Hong Kong.