As I walk on the corners of Nathan Road where I had the fondest memories of my teenage years, I see water cannons and riot police with their rifles and I start coughing from the teargas as I try to find the nearest train station on New Year’s Eve. Walking by the human chain protest with thousands of people that formed and dispersed within 30 minutes, some of us came by to chant after shopping on the other block, and some of us joined the human chain after having dinner in the area. None of us expected to see the smoke of teargas instead of fireworks for New Year celebrations and festivities tonight, yet here we are. We aren’t panicked at this point, but we aren’t used to it: we cannot be comfortable with it. It is the 218th day of resistance and counting. Welcome to the police state of Hong Kong, where we have 30,000 police as puppets of the People’s Republic of China to keep a city with one of the lowest crime rates and highest education levels silent.
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” — Bruce Lee
“Be Water” has become a phrase that embodies the tactics of Hong Kong Protest. Our resistance is like water — decentralized, fluid and flexible. For the past 7 months, we have lived through the 1 million people rally, 2 million people rally, 721 triad-police colluded terrorism, 831 police terrorism in Prince Edward station, violence in PolyU and CUHK that evoked the Tiananmen Massacre. These events are not only traumas that are deeply engraved into the veins of Hong Kong people, but also a constant reminder of how we evolve ourselves as individuals and as a destined community to “be fluid and flow like water” amidst the leaderless revolution.
Aside from having rallies and sit-ins every Sunday, our resistance has become a daily lifestyle. It’s not hard to find graffiti and flyers about the movement around the streets of Hong Kong or to receive informational flyers via Airdrop on the bus. Pro-China and pro-police businesses are empty with no customers in the store, while pro-Hong Kong businesses and restaurants are jam-packed with people waiting to support them. Hong Kongers, my people, have taught me to channel my frustrations under systemic oppression into positive and productive energy.
I have been posting on my Instagram story about restaurants and boba places that have participated in strikes, actively helped protesters, or even have Lennon Walls with notes full of messages of resistance in their businesses. Apps and Instagram pages are developed to inform the public about which businesses have participated in strikes and their contributions to the protests.
Lyrics of a famous parody song that makes fun of Hong Kong police’s incompetence and violence were printed on the storefront of Fila. Fila Hong Kong management was allegedly inconsiderate of the safety and freedom of speech of their employees, which resulted in criticism from protesters and destroyed storefront. Many other storefronts were also destroyed by protesters because of the companies’ complacency and political stance during the movement.
My 2020 New Year’s wish is that Hong Kong will be freed the next time I come back home. Until then, I will continue to fight alongside even in the diaspora.
Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times. Five demands, not one less.