Hong Kongers Say Government Should Listen to Protesters

By Penny Zhou

The streets of Hong Kong are back to normal after the mass protest of Monday, July 1—the anniversary of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover back to mainland China—which also saw protesters storm the legislature. Hong Kongers who weren’t able to participate in the protests have since said that they feel the government should listen to protesters and find a peaceful solution.

“I sympathize with the young people,” Hong Kong taxi driver Lau Kin Kwong told Reuters TV. “I hope the government will be able to improve their communication with the young people and answer their questions better, and reduce conflict.”

The July 1 protest is the latest in a series of attempts by Hong Kong residents to fight against a controversial government bill that would allow Hong Kongers to be extradited to mainland China for criminal trial. But many worry that due to China’s corrupt justice system, this law could be used against critics of the ruling communist party and further jeopardize Hong Konger’s basic freedoms.

On the night of July 1, a group of protesters broke into the legislative council (LegCo) to show their frustration over the government’s refusal to engage with any of the protesters’ demands.

“I can’t really call it violence because I think the citizens have used a lot of peaceful ways to express their opinion but the government is not really responding,” Hong Kong resident Carina Wu told Reuters, “So I think breaking in[to] the LegCo is something like civil disobedience where people have no other choice to draw attention or express their opinion.”

Grandma Wong, a visible figure in the protests often seen waving a British flag, said she has witnessed the decline of Hong Kong’s freedom ever since the Chinese Communist Party took over the former British colony.

“[P]olice are beating up the young people as if they are caring parents,” Wong told Reuters. “But they teach their kids with tear gas, which is shameful. This makes people very angry.

“If you look back at the two periods [before and after 1997], I can say that there are massive differences.”

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has vowed to hold the young protesters responsible for the damage done in the protests.

Reuters contributed to this report.