The Plight of Democracy in Hong Kong.
by Nick Bishop
We have seen on our television screens, heard on the radio and viewed on social media, the protests taking place in Hong Kong.
The protests have been largely peaceful, however, violent clashes have occurred between protesters and security forces.
One of the most violent conflagrations was at Hong Kong International Airport, where protesters occupied the building. Though many passengers found their flights disrupted, the protesters apologised for the inconvenience to passengers and hoped they would understand.
Police tried to evacuate the building but clashes erupted. Unfortunately, one female protester lost an eye due to a police projectile. The protesters are fully aware of the gaze of the world’s media is upon them and in most cases, where possible, they try to make the demonstrations peaceful.
The protests have been going on for weeks now with no signs of abating. Ominously, mainland Chinese security forces, just over the border, from Hong Kong, appear to be in training, in case they are mobilised to put down the Hong Kong demonstrations. It would appear, Beijing has been patient so far, letting the Hong Kong security forces deal with the demonstrations. The Chinese government is also fully aware that the world is watching, so do they really want another Tiananmen Square massacre on their hands?
Hong Kong is a former British colony, consisting of about 7,482,500 people. The mass demonstrations are about an extradition law which would see people taken to mainland China and put on trial there. Many Hong Kongers protesting, feel that people going on trial in Communist China would not get a fair hearing. Some are protesting because they feel the freedoms they now enjoy are slowly being eroded by the Chinese government. Others protest because they want freedom from Chinese rule and independence for Hong Kong.
One thing not featured in news media reports is the influence of Christianity in these protests. The Christian faith has been in Hong Kong since 1841 and about one in five Hong Kongers, are Christian. You will find the usual denominations active in Hong Kong, as you would expect to find, anywhere else in the world.
One prominent Christian group called the ‘Umbrella Group’, are at the forefront of these demonstrations. The Christian protesters, on one occasion, sang ‘Hallelujah’, when confronted by Hong Kong riot police.
One Chinese Baptist Minister by the name of Chu Yiu Ming was among nine activists arrested. Another prominent Christian activist is Joshua Wong, himself, arrested in 2017. Mr Wong said “As Christians, we are not only responsible for preaching the Gospel and then waiting to go to Heaven when we die. We need to be bringing heaven down to earth”.
Mr Wong continued, “That seems like a totally idealistic dream, but if we want that dream to come true, how should we get people to know that as Christians, we don’t focus only on trying to increase our salaries and better our careers. We ask, can we do more for the people around us?”.
Christians are already controlled in mainland China. The church is allowed to operate, as long as it is in accordance, with the Communist party. There are, however, many brave underground churches with thousands of followers. They preach the name of Christ in defiance of the authorities, knowing that if discovered, harsh penalties await them.
So many Hong Kong Christians, feel with the growing influence of the Communist party that their freedoms will be curtailed. When Hong Kong was handed back to China by the UK, in 1997, the Chinese government proclaimed, “One country, two systems”. In other words, Hong Kong though part of Communist China, would be allowed to carry on with its western democracy. However, down the years, it would appear the democratic system is slowly being allowed to wither on the vine. Sadly it seems, the influence of Beijing is getting stronger, in the former British colony.
The extradition law (explained in this article) was the final straw for many Hong Kongers, hence them taking to the streets. It is possible, with the protesters on one side and the Hong Kong government on the other, together with the Chinese government in the background, that we may have reached a point of no return. Neither side can afford to lose face or back down unless a peaceful compromise can be found. The future for Hong Kong, looks truly troubling, indeed.
So as Christians, what can we do to help the protesters in Hong Kong, whether they be Christian or not? Well, we ourselves can protest peacefully. We can lobby our MPs, help through donating to Christian charities working in Hong Kong, hold fundraising events in our churches and highlight the struggle of Christians not only in Hong Kong but in mainland China, too.
Here are some scriptures referencing protest:
Proverbs 31:19 “Open your mouths, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and the needy”.
Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.
1 Timothy 5:18 “For the scripture says “You shall not muzzle the ox when it treads out the grain” and “The labourer deserves his wages”.
God bless you xxx.
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