The South China Morning Post on Friday offered some evidence that Beijing’s worst fears may be coming true as Chinese citizens posted support for the Hong Kong protest movement on social media.
The support described by the SCMP could hardly be characterized as a seismic shift in public opinion – it is only a handful of people posting photos of their national ID cards festooned with messages of support for the protesters on a forum used by the Hong Kong movement – but considering the dire consequences they might face for contradicting the Communist Party line, the Chinese citizens demonstrated remarkable courage by speaking up.
The messages of support from mainland Chinese ranged from slogans to poetry. According to the SCMP:
“Support ‘no extradition to China’. Support Hong Kong people’s just fight,” one said.
“For [Hong Kong], your perseverance is so touching. All your efforts will become sunshine in your future,” another said.
A handwritten poem, with the footnote Xian, in simplified Chinese characters – only used in the mainland, unlike Taiwan and Hong Kong which use traditional characters – read “Don’t grieve for our sorrow … We are born in such darkness. Endless darkness envelops our past, present, and future.”
The SCMP noted it could not verify the authenticity of any of these photos.
China is deeply concerned about the Hong Kong protest movement spreading to Chinese cities, several of which enjoy heavy traffic and commerce with Hong Kong. Beijing is increasingly inclined to portray the protesters as “separatists” and vows to take any measures necessary to “protect the national sovereignty, security, stability, and prosperity of Hong Kong,” as the commander of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison on the island said on Thursday.
The PLA declared its “firm” support for the Hong Kong police and chief executive Carrie Lam on Thursday, releasing a decidedly menacing video that showed PLA troops shooting at civilian demonstrators.
“All consequences are at your own risk.” the PLA warned, using the Cantonese dialect favored in Hong Kong.
Reuters reported on Friday that one of its stories was pulled from the Refinitiv financial information network under pressure from Chinese censors because the story concerned a Chinese official who allegedly played a role in organizing the violent assault on demonstrators at a train station two weekends ago.
In Taiwan, where support for Hong Kong is widespread and outspoken, the city council of Taipei voted to make room for a “Lennon Wall,” a collage of Post-It notes with messages of support for the protesters. Lennon Walls have appeared across Hong Kong as the movement gained strength.
A student society at Canada’s Simon Fraser University also put up a Lennon Wall in support of the Hong Kong protesters, but it was destroyed by a man who spoke the Mandarin Chinese language of Beijing. The students voted to resist “bullying” and “harassment” by creating a new Lennon Wall on wheels that can be locked away at night. Schools in Australia and New Zealand also reported harassment and even violence this week from pro-Beijing students against those who spoke out in favor of the Hong Kong protesters.