The Association for Community and Dialogue is concerned about the violent demonstrations in Hong Kong which are creating anxiety over what the possible response from China will be.
Many years ago, I watched the movie Gandhi and I was inspired by the dialogue between the Mahatma and a Hindu zealot. It happened in the context of Hindu–Muslim enmity in India.
In that dialogue, Gandhi scolds the Hindu man by saying that his behaviour of organising religiously inspired demonstrations and resorting to violence creates fear among his own brothers and sisters.
Violent demonstrations only create fear among the vulnerable population. It does not only affect others but our own families.
The Association for Community and Dialogue, which is part of a global family, is concerned about the violent demonstrations in Hong Kong which are creating anxiety over the possible response will be from China.
Memories of the Tiananmen Square tragedy – where many young people were killed because China would not tolerate those who challenged its authority – are still fresh.
In the current global political landscape, civil society groups and governments analyse issues from two perspectives.
Some NGOs that have a global concern tend to see the issues related to Hong Kong from the perspective of a Western legacy and interference and try to downplay domestic issues that allowed the current upheaval. For example, some analysts say that the issues related to Hong Kong have its origins in British rule where the acquisition of private property is regarded as sacrosanct. This has basically deprived the poorer segment who can’t afford to acquire property. Besides that, there is possible interference from certain Western powers that are hell-bent on breaking up China due to envy over its progress.
Some civil society groups and governments see the conflict as completely a domestic one whereas the people of Hong Kong appear to be fighting for freedom from an authoritarian Chinese government. The evidence was the proposal for an extradition law where citizens and foreign nationals were at risk as the law would allow suspects to stand trial in China. The law has now been withdrawn.
In placing the issues together, Hong Kong basically suffers from the twin evils of authoritarianism and imperialism. What is required is an indigenous struggle for social justice within China and opposition to the interference of foreign powers. Such a struggle would bring credibility to Hong Kong demonstrators, and the Chinese government would soon realise that its citizens are not working in cohort with foreign powers to break up the motherland.
In such a context, it is possible for an authentic dialogue that preserves the unity of China and while providing an opportunity to resolve outstanding issues related to democracy and governance. It is hoped that a holistic solution should take into consideration the legitimate aspirations of Hong Kong citizens for social justice and implement the overall concern for Chinese sovereignty.
Creating fear among Hong Kong citizens through violent demonstrations is not democratic and ethical. It is purely unjust to one’s brothers and sisters.