Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Hong Kong, the Tipping Point?


Today is Hong Kong's and China's National Day, and people are already in the street. But they're not celebrating, they're protesting. I doubt Beijing will repeat the tragedy of Tiananmen Square where, back in 1989 and at the time of the massacres, one man holding a plastic shopping bag simply stood his ground against the tanks. An iconic image I will never forget, but one most Chinese probably have never seen due to censorship. Good luck HK. 
I found the use of thousands of mobile phones used as flashlights indicative of how much things have changed and yet not changed. Once it was cigarette lighters, now it's mobile phones waved above their heads but the message remains the same.


Walking through the underpass security entrance to Tiananmen Square, I (and everyone else) were pushed aside by the sudden arrival of a quick-stepping squad of grim-faced PLA soldiers. In perfect symmetry, obsessively identical, marching proudly through, each determined in his duty. They left no doubt as to who was in charge. 


In the Square itself, which is a vast arena, a solitary PLA guard barked a fierce 'NO!' when I dared to politely ask if I could take his picture. Not one ounce of humour betrayed his implacable stance. I should have just taken the bastards picture. But instead I felt intimidated and didn't. And I'm a British citizen, a tourist. What strength then, had the lone man with a plastic bag of shopping, who stood in front of a line of tanks and stopped them dead in their tracks at the same place back in 1989? And where is he now? How different the atmosphere in Berlin in 1989, where I partied and celebrated alongside ecstatic Germans, to the terrible events in Tienanmen Square in the same year.

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