“Hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets of Hong Kong last Sunday and marched almost two miles (three kilometers), protesting a proposed extradition bill and calling for the city’s leader to step down. It was the largest of three major protests against the bill that were held over eight days.” (The New York Times)
Hong Kong (HK) is a city of stickiness – the extraordinary humidity and heat in the summer will make your body feel so sticky in a minute. The Sunday protest rally was in this sort of heat.
Not just your clothes were all soaking wet, but also your emotions.
On the street, waiting for buses, or in the metro station, being squeezed in the train: One by one, stranger by stranger, local or foreign, citizen or tourist, the emotions of “going out there” attached us to one other.
At least on that Sunday, 2 million people were stuck together.
Borrowed island, borrowed time
Some theorists contend that Hong Kong, a colonial island, has to eventually be returned to whoever claims to be its owner. Hence, during the colonial period, Hong Kong’s history, time and memories were all borrowed and had to be given back.
That Sunday, however, Hong Kongers stood on the street, rejecting having to return their memory, the history they are making today and in the future, to someone.
They’re claiming the authenticity of their own feelings, history and freedom.
And I, as someone who moved to Hong Kong years ago, was invited to be a part of HK’s collective memory and activism on Sunday. Even though eventually I will leave, I am also reluctant to give my collective memory to somebody else.
One night in Leipzig
It was some years ago, my first time visiting Leipzig, biking to the outskirts of the Red Bull Stadium. My friend told me there had been a massive assembly in 1989 near the stadium, where Leipzig citizens had come out to the streets for freedom and democracy.
And after many, many years, on that night I visited, the streets of Leipzig were quiet – like the night in Hong Kong when I started writing about my experience, after the rally.
I am reminiscing about Leipzig from Hong Kong.
By Jia C. Lee
Jia C. Lee is a Taiwanese citizen who used to work in Europe and Taiwan. He studies and writes about gender, culture and politics. He is now living in Hong Kong.