Hong Kong is on fire.
For months now, protests and unrests, led mainly by university students, have wracked the city. Initially in response to a controversial China-backed extradition bill, it is also believed to be fueled by political and social inequality and interference by the Chinese government. As the months went on, the stakes have escalated in the wake of widespread anger at the way the police are brutally cracking down on protests. Many incidents of violence have been reported, mainly from the police, but some from the protestors as well.
I’m not from Hong Kong, but I admit some fondness for the British territory - I’ve travelled there a few times and I worked for a Hong-Kong based company for more than a decade, so I know quite a number of people working there even now. I was hesitant to write down my thoughts on the current crisis, as things were moving and escalating quickly, and there was a good chance that whatever I write might be overtaken by events.
I stand in support of the protestors, and I am hopeful that they succeed, although I am not optimistic. They are standing against China, the fascist juggernaut of the modern world, and the odds of victory are low. This week, the police have laid siege to university campuses, and recently the police have evacuated mainland students from HK, which seems to me as an indication that we are nearing some kind of tipping point, something akin to 1989’s Tiananmen massacre.
The international response has been tepid at best, although both houses of the US legislature have passed or are preparing resolutions condemning the police brutality. Private companies have been embroiled in controversy for censoring efforts to voice support for the protestors, in a blatant example of how capitalism will not stand in support of freedom if it contradicts the bottom line. The gamer-relevant example is of course Blizzard, who suspended and censored Hearthstone pro Blitzchung for delivering this post’s title during a livestream.
The Hong Kong protests are perhaps a microcosm of many of the problems faced by modern society: inequality, authoritarianism, state surveillance, police brutality, the indifference of capitalism, and even China itself. As the decade winds to a close, perhaps the HK revolution and its eventual outcome (whether that be the successful repression of the protests by China or a full-blown rebellion) provide a stark preview of what to expect in the decade to come. Indeed, Hong Kong is the revolution of our time.