As a Hong Konger, I am appalled by the actions of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA). For those not in the know, CSSA recently led a group of students to paint over pro-Hong Kong, pro-Tibet, pro-Uighur, and pro-Taiwan messages in the tunnels.
To the CSSA: This is not your fight. You are not the ones affected. At home, I live right next to the University of Hong Kong, where I have to worry about the safety of my siblings and parents every time they leave the house (although, my siblings relish any excuse to not go to school). My city will never be the same.
My people will never be the same because of their relentless pursuit of freedom from an oppressive regime. And you dare to tell them to lay down and die? In the name of what? Peace? Look inside yourself and tell me if your anger at my friends and family comes from a place of love, or jingoism.
It makes me sick to see such empty platitudes covering up cries for humanity and liberation. If you want to defend the actions of the Hong Kong police, go right ahead, but don’t do it behind hollow calls for reconciliation.
What is most offensive is not your censorship, but your suggestion that negative peace is an option that benefits anyone but the Chinese government. CSSA, you are a poor representation of the Chinese student population here as a whole, a population that I know to be empathetic, thoughtful, and caring.
However, as an international student, I understand both the feeling of separation and the need to more fully identify with your ethnicity or nationality. I feel most like a Hong Konger when I am away from Hong Kong. But that does not justify blind nationalism. The cries to stop violence promote tyranny, not peace. Do not conflate your identity with the actions of your government. I see the apparent necessity in defending the transgressions of a country to which you still have much loyalty. But it is morally imperative to be critical.
I feel those backing the protests often seem far more invested in anti-Chinese sentiment than in genuine solidarity of my friends and my people. The response to all this strikes me as a masturbatory impulse to align with the right side of history. I have seen a blatant disregard for nuance or accountability for the genuine damage caused by movements like these.
I can’t help but feel used. It is much easier to cheer on the liberation of a city when it is not burning around you. These protests are fun to follow. They’re endlessly entertaining, aesthetic, and righteous. But they’re also complicated and morally grey — as all things are. These Xi-Jinping-Winnie-the-Pooh memes help nothing. They do not make me feel supported or cared for. I feel like a spectacle.
I understand the excitement over a cause like this, but this is not fun for me. None of this is fun. The martyrdom of my people is not something I take pride in. To my American friends who genuinely care: Support our cause, but don’t treat it trivially. But this is not to excuse you, CSSA, for your chauvinism.
As somebody who participated in the protests over summer, I’ve seen the peaceful majority marching, and the police brutality. I’ve also seen the violence and aggression towards not just the Chinese government, but mainland Chinese people as a whole. After half a year, I can say the emotional toll on me and my family has been great. The toll on my city has been great. The toll on the bodies of my people has been great.
What toll has it taken on you?
(Translation: Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times)