This week’s blogpost is a guest-post by the HKSA (Hong Kong Student Association in Leuven) about how they feel regarding the world-wide pandemic. It’s the third of 4 posts, written by one of their members.
Life during lockdown can be frustrating and desperate.
No party, no group sport…As a graduate student who is supposed to read and write and work alone most of the time, I am in no position to complain. At the socio-economical level, lockdowns can also be distressing. While I do not know enough to tell what is going on in Belgium, again, I can offer some insights into the “lockdown” in Hong Kong from a privileged point of view as a Hker.
Strictly speaking, there has been no lockdown in HK as it has in Belgium. There are only restrictions regarding assemblies or gatherings, and social distancing. Restaurants and cafés remain open, but the restrictions dictate that there has to be a 1.5 meter distance between two tables for example, and customers have to keep a distance, assembling or gathering with more than 8 persons is illegal, etc.
You may already anticipate something when you read the restrictions I mentioned, if you can really imagine what’s going on in HK as I have said before. In fact, such restrictions are already enough to cause a lot of discontent in HK. The reason is not because they seem unreasonable. What matters is the government and the official personnel’s attitude as well as the implementation of those restrictions.
To see what happened, let me set things in the context of the “yellow economic circle” in HK. During the protests, we identified a number of businessmen and corporations, both local and international, who sided with the CCP. And we all knew why they took such a side, namely, for the privileges and economic benefit. And the idea of yellow economic circle emerged with the aim of forming a sustainable economic circle that can benefit those businessmen who support freedom and democracy.
Why yellow? This is because a yellow ribbon was used as a sign of supporting another large-scale pro-democratic social movement in 2014 known as the umbrella movement, since then “yellow ribbon” has become the name of the group supportive of the democratic movement in HK. How to form the circle? HKers identify the shop whose owner is willing to voice out, support the democratic protests in HK, and willing to exhibit the propaganda for the protests. Then the lists of all these shops are created and uploaded for all the HKers, so that we know where to consume without benefiting the pro-CCP businessmen. While there is a long way to go, the goal of this circle is to form a growing and sustainable economic circle, so that HKers need not “kowtow” to CCP to make money. Such formation of “yellow economic circle” would be a great economic power for the protests since the businessmen of this circle are all willing to provide all kinds of support to the protesters, many of whom are arrested and sued by the government, seriously injured, even unwelcomed by their parents and so are unable to satisfy their basic needs.
To my knowledge, this yellow economic circle is still far from being a sustainable and self-sufficient economic circle, as there is no tycoon in this circle. Furthermore, most of the members are small-scale businesses like cafés and restaurants. However, the CCP and its cohorts have been constantly criticizing or attacking this circle in the media. The pandemic has provided a very good excuse for the HK government to weaken the circle more substantially. Under this circumstances, the aforementioned restrictions were then appropriated as tools to harass the targeted restaurants. Some of them were “visited” and investigated by the HK Police several times a day. But the police never visit the restaurants that side with the government and the police.
Also, many HKers were fined for violating the restrictions while people began to gather and sing in a mall, a number of the fined were innocent and only walking by after dinner alone, but the police would still gather over 8 persons together by force and fine them for violating the restrictions. In this case, as we can see, the restrictions are executed in the manner of double standard.
While there is no official lockdown in HK, living in HK is by no means freer or less risky during the pandemic.