Hong Kong: Will History Repeat Itself?

Hong Kong, Autumn 2014. On the news, all around the world, in all different perspectives. Here’s my personal perspective as a Hungarian/Ukranian.

Let me tell you something about Hungarian history. October 23rd is a day when Hungary grieves — a day we all remember. October 23, 1956: the beginning of the revolution.

Image via BBC News.
Image via BBC News.

How did it start? Well, let’s take a look at Hungary after the war. After the war, Hungary was theoretically independent, but, in actuality, not so much. Students took to the streets, protesting — wanting democracy and independence from the Soviet government. All they wanted was a leader who was chosen by them, the freedom of speech, and their own country. The consequences of these protests? Fake promises, brute force, death, and blood. The revolution was defeated, and it became a never-healing wound across our history.

Does all of this remind you of anything? Because I can’t help but see the similarities.

Hong Kong, 1997. A technically “new” part of China — sort of independent. The promise of the government: You’ll have your first fully democratic election in 2017. But then, the Chinese government rolls out a change of plans. Yes, there will technically be an election, but the candidates will already be chosen.

(Sidenote: Being a student, I find it really interesting that these protests and revolutions were/are started by students. Hungary 1956, Ukraine 2013-2014, Hong Kong 2014. Why? Maybe we are not so disappointed and disillusioned by life. Maybe we still see some hope for a better future. Maybe  we’re just so enthusiastic and idealistic that we think that we really can change the world, and, honestly, I hope we stay this way.)

Image via BBC News.
Image via BBC News.

So why is this protest in Hong Kong unique? Well, overall, protests aren’t an overly common thing in China, and the setting is Hong Kong — a city which is different than others in China. And right now, it is a city that wants to keep its promised democratic rights. The big, haunting question is: Will Hong Kong remain Hong Kong, or will it become a Beijing? As we all know, every country has wounds and scars throughout her history, and Beijing is one of China’s. 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, anyone? Tiananmen is a memory which haunts the older generation, but it’s also a memory which is so taboo that the younger generation does not know it very well.

Do bad, even terrible, experiences in our countries’ histories affect our lives? In my opinion, yes, definitely. This is why I think that this student protest is a very brave step for Hong Kong. It’s my hope that they can keep holding on to their hope, and, just maybe, change will occur.


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