Photo Credit: Reuters
Throngs of people in Hong Kong have gathered to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II. The event marks the largest gathering of crowds in the country after China strongly ruled out mass protests over two years ago.
Around 2,500 people positioned in front of the British consulate on Monday. People of different ages and regions in Hong Kong endured the scorching heat reaching 33 degrees Celsius or 91 Fahrenheit, just to show their solidarity with the UK. The people brought flowers, frames, and letters addressed to the “boss lady” or “lady in charge.” These were the names addressed to the late Queen when the country was under a British colony.
While the event is seen simply as a way to remember the monarch of the UK, some perceive it as a form of protest against China, which has since disallowed massive gatherings in a law enacted last June 2020. The national security law prohibited people in Hong Kong from protesting. The measure has effectively silenced pro-democracy protests in the country. According to others, the law is enacted under the guise of covid restriction.
The event has also come to address the intention of the ruling Chinese Communist Party to have people in Hong Kong forget the period. It has also challenged the claim of some books in the country that says Hong Kong was never a colony. Instead, authorities refer to it as “forcible occupation.”
Delighted to be ‘part of a large crowd’
People were happy that they joined the gathering. A person named Wing, who did not consent to reveal his full name, said it was refreshing to be part of a big crowd again after many years.
“I feel angry that the Hong Kong government is not showing any respect properly (to the Queen). They’re scared of the Chinese government telling them off, but we were part of the colony,” he said.
Another citizen, Sylvia Lee, said that the death of Queen Elizabeth was a sad day for the world, as she embodied stability and power for women.
“No one lives forever, and we knew this day would come someday. She was a respected figure, and the government during the colonial period made many contributions to Hong Kong’s development, especially in the 70s and 80s,” she said.
The gathering is a symbol of protest
At a glance, the event could simply just mean that China and Hong Kong are in solidarity with the Western country in their mourning for Queen Elizabeth II’s death. It is safe to say that it is since Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, and John Lee, Hong Kong’s chief executive, both sent their regards to the United Kingdom.
However, more than that is the collective emotion that the people felt reminding them of the pro-democracy protests that have been done in the country that called out China.
The relationship between Britain and UK spans over a hundred years. During the 19th century, Hong Kong became a trade point between China and Britain for opium. The British occupied and ruled Hong Kong for over 156 years. However, when the colonizers left the country, they were unfortunately handed over to China.
“It was (the Queen’s) empire that, in 1997, handed us over to China against our wishes,” said Jeffrey Ngo.
“The feeling is understandable, given that the intuitive point of comparison is Hong Kong under Chinese rule. I respect their lived experience, albeit it’s not something I share. For me, the monarchy’s wealth and prestige are impossible to disentangle from the empire’s violence and expansionism,” he added.
Opinions expressed by US Insider contributors are their own.