Today is October 3rd and I am at Connaught Road Central. My name is Mia. I am originally from Taiwan but I now work in China. I had some holidays so I came here to take a look and to give my support.

During March of this year, something similar to this situation happened in Taiwan with student protests1. We have been watching the situation since July 1 and I feel like I have to come see the situation here in person. Because the government controls some of Taiwan’s media so reports are very unclear and biased. Many of the reports in Taiwan make the people of Taiwan think that Hong Kong is a mess now. They say: “Do not go there, it’s dangerous, you must be careful.” Since I have some holidays, I felt compelled to come here to take a look firsthand and observe the situation myself.

I think it’s very hard to say what the results will be of this protest because yesterday Leung Chun Ying held a press conference and he said he will not step down. And today I was flipping the newspaper to read over the comments, and this is indeed still the case. If he does steps down, it will give the citizens of Hong Kong thoughts that that if there are enough people, enough movement, and protestors, the leader will step down.

Also he has support from the Chinese government so I don’t think he would want to step down. Today I saw something important related to this. During China’s 1st October Celebration, they broadcasted Leung’s speech. The commenters claimed that this was the government letting the Chinese in China know that Hong Kong is in a very stable state and that Leung is supported. So I believe the result is very hard to predict but this movement has to exist because it is the right thing to do.

My family told me I have to watch what I say and not to post up articles so often while I am here. But I can’t post now anyway because my internet is really slow!

I feel lucky to have the opportunity to come here myself to take a look, to observe and record what is happening. These two days I took many pictures and spoke with a lot of the workers so when I go back I will collect my thoughts and post up articles and pictures and explain what is happening in each of the picture. Things aren’t as bad as what the Taiwanese think and there has been a lot of support here.

I think in Taiwan now, a lot of young people are starting to care about the politics. And there are some young people like me who care about what is happening in Hong Kong and their views are similar like mine. We no longer trust the government and the reports we see on television. Youth my age are cultured and educated and understand the world better. People in the past had more closed thoughts with a set standard of teachings.

In this generation, people are more open. Everything is global now. We are able to get knowledge easily about other countries. We can read about things happening in different countries through the use of many translation applications. We can understand many of the thoughts and ideas of different countries. Why they make certain decisions, why they are so powerful yet having a standard, and a basis of civil and moral foundation.

We can’t really say it is the past generation’s fault but since now this generation has a chance to fix the situation, we have to try our best to do so. Of course the change will not be immediate, we have to take it slowly. And so we have to be here to tell the past generation and the government what we want.

I think the major similarity that keeps Taiwan and Hong Kong close is that Hong Kong uses the Traditional Chinese system. So to us Taiwanese, when we come here, we feel a sense of closeness and there is no confusion in reading. Also the people here are starting to speak in Mandarin so it feels nice to be here.

I belong to the young people of this generation so I will give my opinion on their behalf. From what I know, I think the young people like the hospitality they receive here as well as the culture. For example, we really like Causeway Bay here. So we don’t want China to influence Hong Kong, making many of the specialized little shops of Hong Kong disappear. The films of Hong Kong have had an influence on us. I remember there was a film called “72 Tenants of Prosperity” which talks about the situation in Hong Kong where the rent in Hong Kong became so high causing all the little shops to close down. There is no longer any specialization or uniqueness left. For example when I first visited Hong Kong during June, I was at Nathan Road where there were whole blocks of jewellery stores. I cannot accept that. I feel like there is something missing. There are places where the culture of Hong Kong should be maintained. I think if they could be a balance, it should be good. But now I feel these big businesses are taking over the culture of Hong Kong.

I wasn’t born yet when the June 4 Incident occurred. My family and my friends speak very little about it. Taiwanese try to keep a distance from this issue – only those with extreme thoughts take a stance. [Taiwan has a very huge website called ptt??. The people there belong to the group of people which I talked about earlier, the people who keeps a distance from China.] As for Taiwanese, I think only those people who are bored on the internet will make comments about starting another June 4th in a joking way.

I talked to one of my colleagues in China, he supports me coming here. But he believes that China didn’t treat Hong Kong very badly. So our views are quite different. He thinks that Hong Kong is in this state now because they are trying to start another June 4th. But I suspect whether he has a good concept of June 4th. Because from what I know, the people of this generation in China do not know much about it. Some who do know about the events may question about the authenticity of the reports? Whether the history is made up? I feel they may have a blurred view from their teachings and education about June 4th so they may feel that Hong Kong is trying to launch another movement like it.

I think that the situation here is very similar to the one in Taiwan in March and I am not too worried. In Taiwan, the police did use force. There were even spies causing troubles and chaos. So I worry about whether it will be the same here. But I feel pretty safe here. There is a pretty good system here. They are many prompts to remind everyone to calm down and to take note of any "Leftards"2.

Coming here wasn’t not as bad as I thought, it’s much better than I expected. There is a good system going on and also so much support from different people coming here to understand the situation. I think this is very good.

1: referring to the Sunflower Movement of Taiwan
2: Leftard (左膠) is a new slang that is popular among Hong Kong netizens. It is originally used to insult leftist, and is extended to refer to traiters in the movement.

Thoughts from a Taiwanese Girl

Today is October 3rd and I am at Connaught Road Central. My name is Mia. I am originally from Taiwan but I now work in China. I had some holidays so I came here to take a look and to give my support. During March of this year, something similar...

The following interview includes a conversation between two foreign journalists, John and Violet, currently working in Hong Kong. John has been in HK for three years writing about financial news. Currently he is working as a journalist focusing on politics. Violetta has also previously worked as a journalist but is now a communications consultant. She does not attend the protest for any journalistic commitments.
Not only do we get a more journalistic point of view when it comes to the current situation, we also gleen a bit into the thoughts of those looking from the oustide, but from within.

We started off by asking John about his experiences with the protest:

John : “I came on Saturday night, Sunday night, Monday night. I experienced the teargas. The teargas was on Sunday night, but I was here the night before as well. So, I’ve been here for, like, four or five nights now. Yeah, I had teargas affecting me, four, fives times on sunday night, so. That was of course my first time ever to smell, to taste, to suffer teargas. So, it was quite shocking. But, luckily, the pain went away in five or ten minutes. A few hours after the teargas, you could feel them trying to say sorry, coming out a bit softer and not wearing their masks. I felt safe as a journalist, so, I was right up there near the teargas.”

When asked about the shock value of the second release of teargas:

John : "First time i got the teargas, it was just a little bit, wasn’t so painful at all, maybe just for one minute. But the second time was much worse, maybe ten or fifteen minutes, I had to go away, it was very painful, but finally, yeah it did go away, so."

Did someone help you out? Clean the gas?

John : "Of Course, I’ve seen many people being helped after they were gassed. But no, noone helped me out, no one was around to really help, everyone kinda just ran away and took care of themselves. Somebody gave me a towel. Yeah, that was helpful. Cause I took some water and wiped it off my face."

Any other comments?

John : “Yeah, I don’t know. I’m speechless really. I don’t know what to say. I think everybody has said most of the obvious things already, like, it’s very organized, very disciplined, very peaceful and most people are very young”

Back to your profession as a journalist, what do you look for in recording this new. What are you looking for when you’re interviewing people.

John : “I’m working for two news wires so they really only want the basic stuff. Basic facts and observations. So, that’s what I’m doing for them. There’s not really much deep analysis or in dept thought. It’s mainly just what I see and what i hear and what people I’ve talked to said. So, in that sense it’s easy to do that without any type of bias coming into the story. Although sometimes I wonder should i call the protestors “pro-democracy protesters” or should we just call them “protestors” or should i call them “anti-government protesters”. Sometimes I wonder what’s the best way to describe these protestors, or should I call them “student protesters”. Or should I just say protestors and have no adjective in front. Some of these questions are kind of political, but the organizations I’m writing for don’t care too much. I care. I’m trying to be as professional as I can. For example, I would never wear the yellow ribbon, cause I think that’s a very strong symbol. As a journalist, I think if you wear the yellow ribbon, from a professional perspective, it could indicate that you’re not being objective as possible."
    Violetta : You’re not being objective you know that. Why do you want to hide it? It’s worse.
    John : I mean (Violetta: I think it’s worst), some of my friends have been wearing the yellow ribbon (Violetta : they’re being transparent). But because the stories I’m writing for don’t really have any opinion or analysis, just the facts, so I can keep that out. 
    V : The norm is that hey this is my background, so, I may have some bias related to this.
    J: That’s the new way, but, 
    V : This is not new, this has been done for decades
    J : I don’t think this method is applicable to all forms of journalism. I think some forms of journalism that's straight and I’m trying to stick to that. I know some journalists and bloggers and twitterers, they call themselves a journalist and advocate. They’re activists and that’s their journalism but, mine, I want to be the opposite. In a way, I want to be an advocate with the facts. So, for example, everybody’s talking about how this is non-violent and that’s very true. But, I saw some graffiti in Admiralty and I took some photos and I tweeted the photos and I said “Some things were smashed, set on fire, there was some graffit” By doing that, I was showing that I was trying to be objective. I think some of the more advocating journalists won’t tweet something that reflected negatively, only looking at one side. There are good causes and bad causes. And propaganda for good causes and propaganda for bad causes. I don’t like propaganda, doesn’t matter what the cause is. If it’s a still cause I still don’t want it
    V : I understand. I don’t agree cause when you’re participating in something, you are also the biggest critic. The fact that you’re part of something doesn’t mean that you’re not going to talk all about or not be a critic about it. You are part of it and you want to be as good as possible. The fact

So, Violetta, are you writing news on this or just participating

V : No, I’m not writing right now. My background is journalism too, but, the last year I’ve been working as a communication consultant. Haven’t been working as a journalist for awhile. I was freelancing for traditional media for awhile. I feel more explaining things as a citizen talking to another citizen. I don’t feel comfortable writing. I feel they have...the processes have become very fixed. They don’t follow the ways of doing things from years ago. 

Too systematic?

J : Too formulaic? Bad habits?
    V : Yeah, these ways of doing things are not the best ones and they’re kind of trapped in this dynamic and I don’t like it. I don’t like to run away from complexity. And i think that many times traditional media, especially if they’re [foreign] nationals from international news, they simplify things so much and I don’t understand why. There are ways to explain things without needing to use labels or to make it attractive. I feel like sometimes they want you to focus on this. It’s not important. But they’re like yeayeayea, focus on this, it’s attractive. People will want to read about it. But it may be just me.

Do you still write on social issues?

V : Yeah, Twitter.

Did you actually put on gear?

V : I did on Sunday.
    J : People kept telling me to put on a mask. I got a bit annoyed, actually. Look, there’s nothing happening now. If the gas comes again, I don’t that the mask will help much anyways. These little masks have holes everywhere, there’s a big hole near my nose or you know, its not a perfect fit. I felt like they wanted me to wear it cause it was like some kind of uniform. It was to show that I was one of them and as I said to you I don’t want to wear the ribbon and that's also one of the reasons i didn't wear the face mask. I wanted to be seen as and be objective as much as possible.

Actually, i put on the whole gear when i heard they were coming. Around the time they surrounded the CE office.

J : I want to go back actually, cause that’s new focus I think. That’s the latest development. And, you know that the CE’s office, that’s right beside the PLA barricks. So now the students are just outside the PLA. And the PLA they’re soldiers with rifles and they’re very stern. I went a bit closer and they were like “HEY”. So i went away. But the PLA soldiers, they must be tense.

So the PLA soldiers, the students are physically close to them.

J : Yes, it’s true. Maybe they’re going to be even closer when more students come. If it spreads out further, there are many amazing things to be seen. Of Course the PLA, is not under control of HK. 
    V : These 25 years, many things have changed.

So did you talk to students?

V : I was starting to feel sort of uncomfortable about this non-carnival atmosphere. For me, it’s kind of strange and a strategic mistake. If you want to be aware and awake in case the police comes, you want to be full of energy. You do things like singing and dancing, with energy, that will keep people awake. I didn’t really understand why people were cooling things down, cause people were falling asleep. So, today I went and talked to some people and asked them to explain this. They were explaining...the main reason/concern was that any kind of fun, especially things that are visible, attractive to the eye, it can be used against the people by the government. They gave the example of Tiananmen. In Tiananmen that was a mistake. That’s what he said. There was more creative stuff in Tiananmen. Apparently there were some artistic movements connected to Tiananmen, which were performing, entertainment. So, entertainment was the keyword for them; no entertainment. If you’re creating a banner, cool, if you’re singing a song related to the protest. Fine. But if you’re doing some performance for entertainment where you can’t really see the connection, then you’re keeping focus away from the protest. So, I said, okay I now i understand it a bit more.
    J : It’s a very interesting aspect and it deserves some analysis. It’s an interesting point to be made and I think it’s important. I would like to know the background more. 
    V : The person I asked, randomly, happened to be a communications professor at the university.  

Transcribed by John Galt.

Outside viewpoints from within

The following interview includes a conversation between two foreign journalists, John and Violet, currently working in Hong Kong. John has been in HK for three years writing about financial news. Currently he is working as a journalist focusing on politics. Violetta has also previously worked as a journalist but is...

My name is Anson. I'm 16 and I go to school in To Gwa Wan, near Ho Man Tin. I live quite far. It takes me about 30 to 45 minutes to get home. I'll wait until the subway opens to get home. I came here at around 10 am and now it's 8 am. On the surface they support me but I know my parents worry about me so I didn't come the day after. They're willing to write me a letter of absence now. I came after Wednesday.

It's been pretty peaceful for the past twenty hours. Last night when I was sleeping around 2 am, someone said there was going to be an evacuation. That was a scare though but still did not sleep well. They did take over the main administrative building last night we now know from the news. Over here they were passing out masks and goggles. I was helping out to pass these out at the booths.

I told my mom that I would try to stay safe. If the cops came, I had an idea of an escape route. I would go towards the pier. We are at the library right now and close to the subway and so I would run towards the docks. I would want to get as far as I can. I am not worried about the way the police would control the crowds as they did on Sunday because even if they used the same tactics it would not cause a huge effect. There is so much unity in Hong Kong and we are very civilized to face cops, so I am not worried at all. We are also very protected now. There is enough time for us to prepare.

I had two friends who came with me but they left during the night. They had to leave earlier. They didn't say it was their parents; they just said they have to go. I expect them to come back today.

My thoughts were that if my cell phone ran out of battery, I would leave too. My cell still has 20%; because I recharged with an external battery. I plan to go home so won't go to the battery charging station. I haven't thought about Friday. I feel tonight is a little unstable. So I can't say where I will be on Friday -- maybe after class I'll stay overnight. I will go home and shower now.

My hope is true democracy, that's it.

Photos and Graphics by Cindy
Transcribed by Janice

In the words of a 16 year-old student

My name is Anson. I'm 16 and I go to school in To Gwa Wan, near Ho Man Tin. I live quite far. It takes me about 30 to 45 minutes to get home. I'll wait until the subway opens to get home. I came here at around 10 am...

Picture coming soon

The reason I came to Occupy Central was after I witnessed tear gas released on September 28. Subsequently, the tear gas was fired at the crowd irrespective of their age, irrespective of whether their position was resistant at all. I saw this on live stream – I wasn’t there in person. I have never watched the news for eight hours straight. Afterwards, I talked to several colleagues about the possibility of joining Occupy Central and they agreed that I should go. This was on Monday and they told me I didn’t have to go to work the next day. I work in property management – an office job.

What had happened went beyond the Occupy Central movement; this was about the violence that had been used against the people. Secondly, the tensions that had been building up and lurking below the surface for quite some time now. For example, the government indirectly caused the inflation of property prices. I always knew that the CCP’s way of doing and dealing with things was creeping into Hong Kong, but I just didn’t know it was happening so quickly.

From a family member’s point of view, they are worried about me being in Admiralty, and actually don’t want me to be here. They are afraid of the tear gas. They saw that the gas was deployed even though there was no instigation of violence from the protesters.

Notwithstanding the firing of tear gas, and even given the initial promise of Hong Kong being “unchanged for 50 years,” personally, I think, if the new way in Hong Kong is to be aligned with the CCP way, even if death is inevitable, why not resist and fight to the death? I don’t want to have to submit to the CCP’s way without having first put up a fight.

I was 1 when the June 4 1989 incident occurred; I am 26 this year. My family never mentions June 4th. Society has forced us to only care about a living – there is no will to fight or struggle because we are already exhausted from work. We have lost the meaning. I question why are we not struggling? Why must we give up?

For those who have kids at home, like a friend of mine, they do not want to come out and take a risk. They need to think about their family and worry about their livelihood. They do not want to lose their jobs. Some of my friend’s employers and the companies they work for have forced them to sign “Anti-Occupy Central” statements.

The struggle must be from our generation. It is only the young that have the motivation and the drive.

Transcribed by Heather and Janice

Struggles of an Ordinary Citizen

Picture coming soon The reason I came to Occupy Central was after I witnessed tear gas released on September 28. Subsequently, the tear gas was fired at the crowd irrespective of their age, irrespective of whether their position was resistant at all. I saw this on live stream – I wasn...

Cheng was volunteering as a graffiti cleaner in Admiralty when this picture was taken.

My name is Cheng, aged 28. I have been a registered social worker in Hong Kong for four years. I am based in the Northern District. I perform Youth Outreaching Social Work Service and my job is to be in touch with youth at risk. They discussed with me their own problems with their relationships, schoolwork or families.

My fiancé is also a social worker. She helps children with learning difficulties, hyperactivity disorder or autism. We met when we were in university. She is not with me now because the two of us stayed overnight at the protest two days ago. I was here with her when the policed fired the first wave of tear gas on 28th September. We only stayed until 11pm because I was concerned with her safety.

I recalled that on that day, the police gathered. All of a sudden they had their gas masks on and tear gas quickly followed. It all took place in less than a minute - from seeing the first tear gas firing warning from the police to the actual firing happening. I was hit. It was terrible. My eyes and throat were in pain. I found it difficult to breathe. My eyes were watering, reddened and stingingly painful.

Albeit its toughness, tear gas could not stop me from going out on the streets again. Just now I was asked to help as a volunteer to clean up graffiti in the Admiralty area. I wanted to contribute something to the Umbrella Movement rather than just sitting here. On my first day here I helped distributing supplies. I hoped I could offer help in each possible role. So after that I teamed up with other social workers here and did what we called, a 'Civic Education'. That was, in effect, explaining to the youth at the protest about the 'illegal assembly' that they were attending and how they should react if they were arrested by the police.

I liked to talk to youth here and there and that was my expertise! I did not have a fixed base here. Some of the youth that were counseled by me in the Northern District were also here, in Central, Admiralty and Causeway Bay. I did not go to visit them because I believed their action should be seen as a voluntary one. I only contacted them online, showing my support to them and encouraging them to go on.

At the beginning, many youth in the Northern District were not quite clear with what was going on about this Movement. I tried to share news and messages on Facebook, and explained to them what they could do, hoping they would spread this out. I wished those that were above 18 could come to the streets and those below could let people know the truth by sharing the news online. The career of a social worker echoed the conscience of myself. I enjoyed sharing my ideas with the younger generation as an inheritance, since the youth that were associated with me at the moment were all ten years younger.

Most media in Hong Kong, such as the television broadcasters, were biased and inevitably had their own limitations. By sharing news that I considered as authentic, I wanted to see more people, especially those who were unaware of the Movement and those who were neutral, would be influenced and joined our side through our promotion and education. This could be a way out for this Movement as the Hong Kong government would not respond to our requests if the number of people out there remained more or less the same. The current tactic of the government was to let time wearing down our determination. I hoped my work could maintain this Movement or even turning public opinion to our direction.

I was worried, literally every minute, that the public opinion would start to turn its back on us. To me, the current Hong Kong government was formidable in spreading propaganda and controlling public opinion. It was very risky to fight a war of attrition against them, particularly when the media began to focus more on the discontent of citizens on the Movement, which might instigate the neutrals to become opposition of the Occupy Central Campaign.

So for what we have to do, every second counts. What we have to do is to clarify the positive facts of the Movement. For example, had the protest actually prevented first aid or ambulances to reach the needed elsewhere? It was a definite 'No'. And also we could explain our idea to the opposition, so even if they did not agree with us, they would understand that we were nowhere near violence and we were not here purely for the sake of 'being here'. We would tell them why we did not go home to sleep even if we all were not homeless. That was because we did not want to see Hong Kong becoming one of the synonymous Direct-controlled municipalities of China. We were so close to being one now. This was a crisis. If we continued like this, our identities and freedom of speech would be gone, we would no longer have the opportunity to demonstrate on the streets. Or we would celebrate China's National Day on the streets instead, and more. I believed lots of Hong Kong people, even for the older generation who had taken part in shaping Hong Kong, would not want to see Hong Kong degenerating into a city that confused right and wrong.

The Social Worker of the Society

Cheng was volunteering as a graffiti cleaner in Admiralty when this picture was taken. My name is Cheng, aged 28. I have been a registered social worker in Hong Kong for four years. I am based in the Northern District. I perform Youth Outreaching Social Work Service and my job...