Hereby I’d like to post a few more small excerpts from two different interviews – small pieces on how people perceive the modern Hong Kong society they live in. I had the first interview many months ago, when I just arrived in Hong Kong, with a wonderful lay woman who works at a local seminary. We were talking about changes in Hong Kong society since 1997, the year in which Hong Kong returned back to mainland China:
There is one thing that has changed. Since the return to our mainland, people are now more aware that they themselves have to make the good news of Hong Kong freedom. Before, they were mainly silent, but now they know. Well, now we have to speak up, we have to voice out. Otherwise, we will just be like the people in the mainland. The people in the mainland have no choice, they don’t have this opportunity.
Before, we were very shy, very passive. After the return, we realized our situation. This is also because of the government; they try to control us more and more. That is now why people like to protect the core values of Hong kong. There is more conscience now, and more and more people join in petitions or protests.
Last Tuesday, while talking to a catechuman teacher of a local parish, I heard almost the same:
In the past, Hong Kong was quiet steady under the British government. But now that we are part of the Chinese government, people have to voice out their opinions. They have to work for what they want. And they have started looking at problems from a different angle. Instead of listening to the authorities, they now think about a lot of questions themselves.
I had to think about this when I was sitting in a meditation center last night, waiting for a talk of a nun on Buddhism in the twenty-first century. While waiting, I started a conversation with the Hong Kong woman sitting to my right. We started talking on the center (I started with the best opening sentence ever: “So, do you come here a lot?), on Buddhism, and on modern Hong Kong society. Especially with regards to the last topic, the woman had a strong opinion: very negative towards the people and the government from the mainland.
I jokingly asked her: “Then would you like to go back to being a colony of Britain instead of part of China?”.
I was a little surprised when she actually took a few seconds to think about that question, and then said: “Well, I wouldn’t want Hong Kong to be a colony again, but the years of British governance were much better than what we have now!”.