All I felt was helplessness.
For me, it was a peaceful morning of lectures and classes at Oxford. At the other side of the world, university life was much more different. It was a war zone.
What I felt personally as a citizen that was born and raised in Hong Kong was helplessness. I came to the realization that my home city will certainly be assimilated into the dystopian totalitarian state of China.
I felt guilty. I felt like I had the responsibility to be there instead of enjoying life here in England. These students are spending all their effort and time to save Hong Kong, as to them democracy and freedom is everything. They stand up against the police brutality that has daunted Hong Kong for the past 5 months. They stand up for the 5 demands of the protest. They are one of the key reasons Hong Kong still hangs on to a lifeline under Chinese pressure. Unlike me, most of these students cannot flee to a safer democratic country as they do not have the investment money. These are the freedom fighters that will be forcibly integrated into the Chinese state. It hurts a lot more when your own home is being threatened.
I thought the protests would end quickly and daily life in Hong Kong would go back to normal, where fear and paranoia of the police arresting regular citizens would not exist. I used to be proud of Asia’s World City and the privileged autonomous status that it held for foreign investment. What I didn’t know was that this was just a façade that hid the cruel intentions of the government.
What makes me mad is the lack of foreign interference. This is a period in history in which the leaders of the free world would rather be isolationists? The most prominent example would be the United Kingdom. I understand that Brexit is a political issue that must be resolved and is top priority. However, to my knowledge, there has not been any strong action that would show that the UK truly cares about upholding the one country two systems principle. In the ongoing election campaign, it is clear Hong Kong is only a minor issue among British politicians. Furthermore, the British have refused to give citizenship to British National Overseas passport holders. It feels like betrayal.
I tried explaining the situation to my friends from other countries. I felt like I was talking to a wall. It is hard to empathize with someone if they have not gone through the catastrophe itself. As much as I want them to care, in the end, it is not their home where the humanitarian crisis is happening. To the general audience, it is another external political issue that does not affect their daily life. So why should they care that much?
On the other hand, this has shed a light for me on the extremity of other crises around the world. The concentration camps in Xinjiang to indoctrinate minority groups, the questionable presidential election in Bolivia and more. What I have learnt from this is that even if the world is plagued with disasters, there is a lot more an individual can do to help. This ranges from simply reading and spreading awareness about the situation to donating, boycotting, writing to your local representative etc.
The mentality is that somebody out there is already resolving the situation. There’s a natural tendency for inaction. But any action is better than no action at all.