by Anthony Kuhn
NPR – October 2, 2014
The government of China has described the protests that have gripped Hong Kong for the past five days as illegal and chaotic. Any mention of the demonstrations is quickly erased from the Internet. At the same time, many mainland Chinese, in the territory for business or tourism, are observing the protests with interest and often amazement.
It’s not hard to pick out the mainlanders in the crowd. They’re usually the ones speaking Mandarin, instead of the dialect most Hong Kong residents speak: Cantonese.
Standing near the protest organizers’ area, one mainland visitor who goes by the online name Simba admits he’s never seen anything like this in his life.
“I’m shocked,” he says. “This would be impossible on the mainland. Protesters there would be swept aside before they even made it through one night. Also, nobody here litters. Everyone’s so orderly.”
Another visitor, from Southwest China, said he came here on vacation, but still thought the protests were important enough to observe.
He says that even though Hong Kong is not yet a fully democratic society, it does have the rule of law, and in many respects it’s far ahead of the mainland.
“I think Hong Kong people are very brave,” he says. “They are standing up today not just to fight for the freedom of 7 million Hong Kong residents, but for that of 1.3 billion Chinese. I’m very thankful to them.”