Free passport and travel ticket

The recent student-led protest in Hong Kong against Beijing-influenced elections is not exactly new.  HK Chinese have protested before and increasingly as the central government’s tentacles have reached further into the city-state’s administration over the past ten or so years.  The promise given at the 1997 ‘handover’ when HK went from a British colony to return to China was; “One country, two systems.”  It promised to keep the loosely-defined Hong Kong form of democracy and autonomy in place.  But they lied.

That government doesn’t speak the truth is not news anymore.  That Bejing lied is to be expected.  Lying is endemic to all governments.  And, with a hobbled and muted media, they get away with it.  In Canada, too.  But Hong Kong Chinese believed them.  They really did.  And they are fighting for that belief.  It is a show of incredible courage.

The real story is that the students are leading the revolt once again – like in the times of Tiananmen Square.  And in no small part that is a surprise in itself.  The government does not teach the Tiananmen Square history in school.  Chinese students today are generally ignorant of that time in Chinese history and even their parents have opted not to speak of it most of the time.  Safer that way.  These students are protesting without the sense of tradition or history that so often lends courage to such efforts.

They are NOT saying, “If they can, we can!”  Because no one in Hong Kong knows they could.  No one knows they did try once before.  And no one knows that the protests were crushed by none other than the People’s Army.  That video we are all so familiar with..? The man with the shopping bags blocking the path of a line of tanks by simply daring the driver to run him over..?  That video is never been seen officially in China.

Of course it has been seen but not officially.  And it has become part of the secret history that only a few know about now.  The extreme minority of Chinese who are personally committed to protest are not open about it.  They are not visible.  If that should ever happen, they are jailed.

Who amongst us would forget the images of Kent State?  Rodney King?  The Watts riots?  Who would forget the story of Lt. Calley at My Lai?  Nixon’s departure from the White House?  These are images that give us vision, that provide us with perspective and that help us make decisions on what our limits are.  The Chinese don’t have that. They get rhetoric and propaganda exclusively.

They are lied to even more than we are.

I totally respect the protestors.  To stand up to Goliath without the foundation of history, knowledge, perspective and the known support of others is incredibly courageous.  You are seeing a lot of brave young people in Hong Kong these days.  And to do that in conflict with a culture steeped in obedience, harmony and cooperation, is amazing. These are students born into a culture of respect for the hierarchy and for ‘your superiors’ and their school system is very, very reaffirming of that.  For them to object to anything in an anti-social way is nothing short of a major shift in the ‘force’.  These young people are different and they are making a difference.

We could use a few Chinese dissidents here.

15 thoughts on “Free passport and travel ticket

  1. Not to mischaracterize what you say, but are you also saying that our democratic governments in Canada also lie to the citizens of Canada? Isn’t democracy as a practise in reality at best a sham serving corporate interests? Isn’t there really only one party in Canada, the Corporate Capitalist Party. People only vote for degrees along a spectrum. Do the young folks of Hong Kong know that they are seeking an illusion? Democracy exists no where.


  2. Oh, you cynic, you. I agree 100% but that is not the point. They are – like us – TRYING. Because we limit our choices by channeling through parties, we have no choice so I agree. Democracy is an illusion at best. A sham, really. And even if a party came up the back way and took over, what do they take over? A system designed for and by the corporations. So, I agree with you. But, having said that, that is also why we write. It’s why I always vote my conscience. I try to meet the candidates to see if any of them have personal integrity (some do) and I hope. I have lost most of that hope but I still want to see the human being get off the greed train in all it’s manifest forms.


  3. Hats off to the brave citizens of Hong Kong at the barricades. Short term goal a semblance of choice in a free election. A laudable goal in a totalitarian country with a poor record on civil rights. Laudable but naive. Do they think China will be shamed into granting their requested fair elections? China has human capital to spare and makes no bones about creating fodder from protesters.


    • I don’t know if anyone young ever thinks over his or her ideals. In this case a young student-thinker might be thinking that ‘the promise’ has to be kept or China loses face and ‘face’ in this context means international expectations of rule of law and contracts that will be honoured between nations. If I were the premier, I would step back, apologize to the people of HK and say that we will honour the agreement and further, we will extend it ten more years to show good faith. THAT would send the right message to the world. And the govt. of China is many things but they aren’t stupid.


      • Yes you are correct. The book “Necessary Illusions” by Chomsky is instructive in that sometimes a belief in an ideal is enough. But looking a the results of the ‘Arab spring’ portends further grief for future seekers of human rights. As the philosophs once observed, “Mankind is born free but every where humanity is in chains.”


  4. Well, it does make for colorful news pictures, that’s about as far as I would go. Oh, yes, and I’d add: they better be careful what they wish for, they might get it. No, not “true” democracy, but that ersatz democracy already being demonstrated everywhere statists organize around the money and power to get their little piece.

    “Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.”


  5. After the Tienanmen Square massacre, several western intelligence agencies wanted to know how the Chinese troops could fire on their own people.

    Most of the the troops were brought into Beijing from other areas of the country and had little on nothing in common with the protestors. The troops were held on trains for several days increasing their anxiety and boredom.
    Before they were sent out to “put down” the protest they were given “vitamin shots” that were for their “benefit” .
    The CIA and other agencies believe the troops were given agression drugs to ensure their would be no military mutiny or “Flower” Revolution as had happened in Russia.
    Thousands were slaughtered around the square and in the square and medical treatment was either delayed or denied.
    Hong Kong had best tred very carefully.
    The leader of China will do anything to maintain power and Xi Jinping is currently riding a wave of personal popularity.
    He may feel omnipotent, which is far scarier than being omnipotent.
    Hong Kong should wait for the coming economic slowdown in China to help coax
    the leadership to allow a snippet of democracy.
    Patience used to be a staple of chinese politics, hopefully it still will be.


  6. Democracy is great if your party is in power.
    Currently Harper is in power with 40 %. The other 60% of Canadians who did not vote for him must remember to take turns on the gas pipe. Line for the gas pipe forms to the right.


    • I think Democracy CAN be great but the system we have LIMITS choice, favours the rich and, even when your choice of two gets in, that person is usually mute and useless. Our system sucks. But the basic concept of electing good people from the electorate, with integrity, wanting to serve the public is a good one. Is it too much to ask for a few hundred good people NOT working the trough for their owns sake to lead our province and nation? Is it too much to ask for honesty and truth telling, plain-speaking and public service? Does everything have to be be corrupted by greed? Is every politician trained in bafflegab and theft?
      Harper didn’t even get 40%. It was in the 30’s. And all he did was win one seat. The rest of the power was grabbed from within the laughingly named Conservative Party.


        • Well, yes. The evil has left the Arc of the Covenant, the serpent got Eve to eat the apple and Harper is in power. All bad things. But no one said it would be easy and so we have to do what we can. For evil to be done, good men only have to do nothing. We have to do what we can.
          Yes, I know: trite, cliche, Disney-esque. But so was Churchill, Ghandi, MLK and Nelson Mandela. The only way is by speaking the truth and being honest. And walking the walk. Like the folks who made it on to Nixon’s hate list.


  7. Tiananmen (not Tienanmen) is well known in Hong Kong. Basic Law guarantees freedom of information. Also, the protests are not only students. It seems like you don’t know what you’re talking about.


    • We tend to forgive the odd spelling error. And, it may seem that I don;t know all about Chinese politics because I don’t. I live off the grid in BC don’t forget. But Tiananmen is NOT well known to mainland Chinese and so many students in HK are mainland Chinese as are a significant number of residents now. Plus Tiananmen was 25 years ago. That means that for most people under 35 it is simply forgotten or is of no interest – emphasis on the latter. Talk about Tiananmen when you are there in HK and the number of people who know about it are in the greater minority. Plus, freedom of information means nothing if no one accesses it and the basic HK’er is not a big history buff. Accounting, yes. Business, yes. But political science and current affairs outside of HK? Absolutely not. And please remember: I wrote my piece when it was just the students protesting – before the police used gas and raised the greater support of the ‘average guy’. I wrote about it when the protest was in the first two days. BEFORE the media.
      The bigger question is why you would attack a guy freely expressing a personal opinion?


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