US

Boston Student Faces Backlash for Identifying as Hong Konger

By Penny Zhou

“I didn’t want to be well-known. Neither my parents and my friends want me to be well-known,” Frances Hui, a journalism student at Emerson College in Boston, said in a rally against Hong Kong’s extradition bill, “None of us want to be a prominent figure at such a young age—at least, I don’t.”

Despite her wish, immediately after the 19-year-old published her column titled, “I am from Hong Kong, not China” in her school’s newspaper the Berkeley Beacon, she has been under the spotlight, and received constant backlash by students from mainland China.

Hui said that one of her critics maintains a social media platform espousing violent—and life-threatening—views.

“There is one line that specifically says, ‘Whoever opposes my greatest China, no matter how far they are, they must be executed,’ Hui told NTD. “The word ‘executed’ was written in red, so it was pretty—it gave me a panic attack at that point.”

But Hui is determined not to be shut down. She organized a rally in Boston to support the protests in Hong Kong. The center of these protests is a proposed extradition bill, which would allow anyone in Hong Kong to be sent to China for trial. Many people see this bill as an erosion of the city’s rule of law.

“I grew up learning that my city’s core values were rooted in the freedoms granted by the Basic Law, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of press and publication,” she wrote in her column. But these freedoms don’t exist in China, which is under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

“To me, truth is, China is a really oppressive country,”Hui told NTD. “They oppress dissidents, and they don’t allow democracy to happen.”

She said the proposed extradition bill puts people who are critical of the Chinese regime at risk, including herself.

“If this bill is passed, I would say more than half of the people in Hong Kong would move to other countries,” she said. “And for me, I will not go back to Hong Kong because I’m already a prominent figure to them.

“So it’s very dangerous for, and also my parents, my family, my friends,” Hui said.

She said she didn’t know what the future held for Hong Kong—but that “seeing these people, who are really united together, I can still see hope. But I don’t know if that amount of hope can combat the government.”

The June 9th protest in Hong Kong is the largest ever since the Chinese Communist Party took over the territory. More protests are on the way as the government vows to push the bill forward despite the people’s will.

In a public statement regarding her column, Hui quoted a fellow student, friend and Hong Konger at Emerson:

“Until you have lived through the days where there was news about the imminent threat of tanks being driven onto our streets filled with students voicing their views, it’ll be even more difficult to understand. Until you read about 5 men disappearing in thin air for more than a week for selling books that are ‘anti-Chinese,’ just for a few of them to return saying that ‘China had nothing to do with it,’ it’s easy to say ‘Hong Kong is a part of China.’”