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Hong Kong divided over China’s COVID-19 protests | WGN Radio 720

HONG KONG (AP) — A recent wave of protests against China’s anti-virus restrictions hit Hong Kong’s own pro-democracy movement after local authorities used a national security law enacted in 2020 to curb it. It was a ray of hope for some supporters of

Among them is Thomas So, who joined about a dozen students from mainland China in a rare protest at the University of Hong Kong this week.

“Even if mainland China collapses, I can’t say that it’s not my job,” said Thaw, who held up an electric candle and a blank sheet of paper to symbolize defiance of censorship at the protest. I hope China also has these values ​​when it upholds the values ​​of

By reopening a window for people to come together and have their voices heard, I hope it may bring new opportunities to Hong Kong’s waning pro-democracy movement.

Some in Hong Kong, a former British colony on China’s southern coast, are sympathetic to mainland protesters’ calls for greater freedom after nearly three years of troubling pandemic restrictions.

Chris Tam, 23, held up a blank sheet of paper and said: “There have been many protests in Hong Kong before. I understand the feeling of wanting to say something but not because of the government.” .

In 2019, before the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers took to the streets to protest the extradition bill. Although the bill was eventually shelved, it sparked months of unrest and at times violent clashes between police and protesters.

Despite the Chinese government’s pledge to keep Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous Western-style legal system and civil liberties intact for 50 years under a national security law enacted with the support of China’s ruling Communist Party. , authorities crack down on most public dissent in Hong Kong. Years after the city came under Chinese rule in 1997.

But a rare demonstration in many Chinese cities erupted after an apartment fire in the northwestern city of Urumqi killed at least 10 people on November 24. The tragedy prompted outraged questions online that firefighters and victims attempting to flee might have been blocked by door locks or other antivirus controls. The death became the focus of public discontent.

This was the boldest public dissent in decades. After an initially muted response by security guards using pepper spray and tear gas, police and paramilitary forces flooded the city streets with jeeps, vans and armored vehicles in a massive show of force.

Beijing promised to reduce the cost and disruption of controls. But he said he would stick to a “zero COVID” strategy to try to stem the outbreak by quarantining all cases.

Hong Kong authorities have also downplayed their response to mainland Chinese-led protests. Police sidelined protests in downtown’s Central district on Monday and cordoned off the area, allowing people to put down flowers, candles and blank papers to mourn the victims of the Urumqi fire. However, officers removed the personal information of several protesters and took videos of the protests.

Also on Monday, dozens of Chinese students and Hong Kongers took part in a protest at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the Sha Tin suburb, most of them holding up blank slates to avoid being identified by authorities.

They chanted, “No PCR test, but freedom!” and sang “Against the dictatorship, don’t be a slave,” and sang songs that had been favored in previous protests, such as “Do you hear the people sing?” Kanto pop rock band Beyond’s musicals “Les Miserables” and “Endless Sea, Vast Sky”.

Hong Kong security chief Chris Tang later said the protests could threaten national security. He called the local demonstrations “highly organized” and “the beginning of another color revolution”, alluding to foreign involvement.

It is unclear whether authorities will take further action.

Not everyone in Hong Kong sympathized with the recent riots, and many opposed previous large-scale protests in their city.

Some people are outraged by criticism from mainland Chinese over previous protests in Hong Kong, saying protesters across the border are just tasting their own medicine.

Numerous posts on Hong Kong’s Reddit-like forum LIHKG (where pro-democracy advocates discussed the movement’s strategy for 2019) were unsympathetic.

“China’s dorky youth showed no sympathy for Hong Kong’s dorky youth in 2019, so why should they do so for China’s dorky youth in 2022? “A user named ‘Fat Woman!’ You are not wrong,” he asked.

Some said Hong Kong police should help mainland authorities crack down on the protests. Some even said the Chinese government should deploy tanks, as it did in 1989 when it crushed the pro-democracy movement centered around Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds, possibly thousands, of unarmed protesters.

It is impossible to know how many of Hong Kong’s 7.4 million residents support or oppose the protests in both their city and mainland China.

“People on the streets of Hong Kong are a mix of mainlanders and locals who are trying to voice their dissatisfaction with China’s zero-COVID policy being implemented on the ground,” John Burns said. It could be advocating for more freedom and democracy in places,” said Emeritus Professor of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong.

Charles Leung, a student in his 20s who attended an event in Central on Monday, said protesters from both the mainland and Hong Kong supported the same cause.

“As human beings, we have to speak up when we see other people being treated unfairly,” Leon said. “When it comes to human rights… (we should care) it doesn’t matter if it was Hong Kong three years ago or China today.”

https://wgnradio.com/news/international/ap-hong-kong-divided-over-chinas-covid-19-protests/ Hong Kong divided over China’s COVID-19 protests | WGN Radio 720

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