Last updated on December 16, 2019
The recent protests occurring in Hong Kong have created a rift in the Northwest School community. The protests were sparked by the proposal of the Extradition Bill – a law that would export Hong Kong criminals to mainland China. As an autonomous territory, Hong Kong has a different set of laws than mainland China that guarantees the right to assembly and freedom of speech. The bill thus threatens the region’s convicted criminals of these basic rights.
The perspectives of Mainland Chinese students at Northwest differ from those of Hong Kong students and those of mainstream Americans. Students in our community who take this issue seriously have been posting new articles about the protests on their social media. When others see these posts, they often generate a narrow perspective of the issue, as their only window into the protests are through westernized media.
To better understand the divide on this issue in our community, three Northwest School students and faculty were interviewed regarding their opinions around the topic. Given the gravity of this topic, they chose to remain anonymous.
(Interviewer): If you have been to Hong Kong during the protest, what have you witnessed?
(Interviewee 1): Violence is on the news every single day. People are separating themselves because of their different perspectives, and a lot of teenagers disagree with their family. The protest is destroying a lot of relationships, but it also brings people of similar views together.
(Interviewer): What do you think the Chinese government should do?
(Interviewee 1): To completely settle the matter, I think the Chinese government needs to meet the protesters’ demands by granting its inhabitants complete access to freedom.
(Interviewee 2):In my dream world, China would be more open to governmental flexibility and a diversity of opinions. In America, states are allowed to establish their own laws independently from the central government – for instance, a lot of states have legalized marijuana, even though it is criminalized under federal law. Ideally, Beijing would let Hong Kong have an election to choose their chief executive according to universal suffrage as an experiment for about 10 years.
(Interviewee 3):The Chinese government, in my perspective, should stop all violent activities against the protesters for the safety of Hong Kong’s residents’ and their property. The protesters have resorted to unpeaceful ways to push the Chinese government to agree with their demands. For example, they have destroyed the subways and roads, which disrupted the city’s transportation system. The Chinese government must focus on sustaining social stability as its first approach so that the protest will not further devastate the people of Hong Kong.
(Interviewer): What is the most effective way to support freedom in Hong Kong for US?
(Interviewee 2): Sometimes, the best way for the United State to support a cause is by not interfering; the more involved it is, the more Xi Jing Ping ,the president of China, can say Hong Kong is just a puppet of the United State. When it comes to actually supporting the cause of the people of Hong Kong, I think the United States needs to be very careful about whether or not Xi Jing ping or the anti-democracy party can use that argument that the pro-democracy people in Hong Kong are just a puppet that are controlled by the United State. But I think that the US Congress is being truthful when it says they support democracy in Hong Kong.
Different perspectives and beliefs were brought out when talking with students and faculty in NWS. In the interviews, three people explicitly propose their own distinctive perspective responding to the question about what action should Chinese government should take. Looking outside these interviews, the reason why different opinions were generated in our community is probably because people have different access to the news on social media. These news might sometimes be one-sided and therefore lead to different perspectives for the people whose news source are only these. Though some people might be proactive in expressing their perspective, it is important to acknowledge the fact that there is always more than one side to the story.