Reporter's Diary: Hong Kong has the right to elect 'patriotic' officials
By Xu Xinchen

Hong Kong's scheduled 2020 Legislative Council election was postponed due to COVID-19, and the new date is September 5 this year. 

With "One Country, Two Systems," Hong Kong has been enjoying relative freedom electing its officials, and now many law makers are urging that elected officials need to be "patriots." That came after some 50 anti-government protesters were arrested early 2021 under the National Security Law. 

These people are accused of attempting to manipulate Hong Kong's electoral system by hosting a preliminary election. The arrest is the largest under the National Security Law since the law took into effect on June 30, 2020.    

Hong Kong has been through a few rocky years, and back in 2019, I was there and witnessed anti-government protesters taking to streets. While the protests were initially aimed at creating better lives for Hong Kong residents, it soon became violent and politically driven. And this is my observation. 

On September 30, 2019, tens of thousands marched from Hong Kong's commercial center, Causeway Bay, to the city's government headquarters. Yet, it was only two in the afternoon when some protesters started to throw hard objects at police officers before the police gave out a warning for tear gas deployment. The protest quieted down a bit and the march started.  Many of those who took to the streets were very young. 

"I am 18 years old," a protester all covered in black told me.  

I had my doubts about whether that young boy was really 18. He looked very small and sounded very young. Protesters started to throw petrol bombs all over the place, while police shot back dozen rounds of tear gas. Other protesters — those not wearing black — were said to be medics or helpers, and they told me they were scared by the scene.  

And I tried very hard to understand what these young protesters were looking for – by burning their city.  "We are just asking for a choice at least," is what 24-year-old Robin told me.  I met him during a rally at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He works in the tourism industry, which was hugely impacted by the unrest. 

He agreed to speak to our camera and our first interview was done on September 5, 2019. Of course, he wore total black and refused to remove his mask.  

"Aren't scared that they are actually fighting for something else?" I asked. 

"Actually, I am afraid of that. I am afraid of that. It is too easy for everyone to put on a black shirt and a black mask and to do whatever they like," said Robin. 

A few months later in November, he agreed to speak with us again.  

He was not wearing total black this time in fear of being attacked by people who were not happy with the destruction black clad protesters done to the city.  

Robin just joined another big protest, turning the Chinese University of Hong Kong into what police called a rioters' bomb factory. 

"Something is inside the mind of protesters. Something is higher than the Basic Law. Maybe because I am not from the police force. If I am, I would think differently. Maybe I would totally have a different standpoint," said Robin.  

While I could relate to his hopes for a better life, his actions didn't make much sense to me. 

Above the law? Who is preaching this ideology? Stirring up young minds – to destroy return for what? 

"My opinion is that right now, what we are seeing actually we have to ask ourselves do you have the evidence to support," said 22-year-old Cyrus.  

I met Cyrus during one of the larger protests that turned violent, as he came to watch from the sidelines. He just graduated from university and it was very hard for him to find a job because of the unrest. These violent protesters put much strain on Hong Kong's economy.  

Hong Kong maintained its autonomy because of "One Country, Two Systems." The idea behind the policy is there's one country first – it's part of China – then there are two systems. This has allowed the city to develop on its own, at its own pace. And the policy allowed Hong Kong to continue thriving as an – until forces to disrupt the balance appeared.  

"The nationality is flowing in our blood. It is something we cannot change. We are only saying 'One Country, Two Systems.' Now, we just want our system to be better," said Robin.  

The 24-year-old protester may have admitted this, but there were anti-government politicians I spoke with who said they need to "destroy Hong Kong first and then let it be reborn."

In order to bring peace and order back and further prosperity to Hong Kong, shouldn't people have the right to elect officials who are patriotic enough to take up leadership roles? With so much interference coming from the outside – not aimed at making Hong Kong better but China weaker, how someone who's not proud of being Chinese offers the best opportunities for Hong Kong's residents? 

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