Hong Kong Is Not China

It breaks my heart that I can’t be in Hong Kong to support the people protesting against the extradition bill.

I generally reserve my blog space to give everyone a little bit of insight into who I am and what I do. Well, Hong Kong is a part of who I am. That’s something I believe many people from the 852 will understand. I spent 17 years growing up in that city, being shaped by it and by everything it had to offer, so now, even after living in a place as different as the countryside of Sweden for six years, the only place I can really call home is Hong Kong; the people I connect with the most are from Hong Kong. Now I’m watching them fight desperately to keep that place safe from the grasp of a tyrannical force.

If that sounds dramatic, it should. Whatever you imagine when you read that is what the two-million-strong protesters are marching against.

Let no one forget that China essentially kidnapped several booksellers from Hong Kong in 2016 for selling anti-China literature. Let no one forget that China is ruled by a government that essentially imprisons and brainwashes those they don’t agree with on the orders of President (and I use that term loosely) Xi Jinping, who is — for all intents and purposes — a dictator.

If passed, the extradition bill would allow criminals convicted of any one of 37 crimes to be extradited to China and Taiwan. Of course, it’s the former of those two that’s incensed the people of HK since Taiwan has openly rejected this bill. Keep in mind that rules surrounding legal proceedings in China are terrifyingly lax when it comes to those in authority.

China has been trying to chip away at the freedom we enjoy in Hong Kong since the handover in 1997 and outside of politics, they’ve used infrastructure, their military, and kidnapping to do it.

For the outsider, it might seem as though the only real barrier separating the two countries is the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984. Without that, it might seem as though Hong Kong has always belonged to China. That might have been true at some point in history, but in reality, the whole reason why there is conflict here is largely because Hong Kong is not China. We speak a different mix of languages, we have different cultures, and we clearly have different values — politically speaking, anyway.

Reportedly, almost two million demonstrators took to the streets to protest the extradition bill on the 16th of June and it’s encouraging to see so many partake. It’s easy to dismiss all of these protests as the actions of dreamers facing impossible odds. If I’m being realistic, that might be exactly what it is. Still, that doesn’t mean any of us should give in and just watch as our country is pulled into that authoritarian madhouse.

Even if Hong Kong hadn’t been my home for most of my life, even if I wasn’t also Taiwanese and didn’t already feel deep-seated animosity toward the Chinese government, I’d argue against the Extradition Bill for the simple reason that it would prove detrimental to the economy of the region, which is one of the reasons China is so interested in it anyway. In a nutshell, if China is allowed to exert that much more control over HK, businesses are likely to leave, and China loses out on trade with western markets.

The point of all this is that no good can come out of the Extradition Bill and what it represents, or standing idly by while China tries to dig its claws into that small tropical island.

They Legislative Council has delayed it for now, but that’s not enough. They have to scrap it completely.

Everyone out there is risking something or someone and doing that isn’t easy. I hope the protesters don’t give in and don’t get discouraged when they’re standing with their face inches from an agitated policeman’s riot shield. I hope things don’t escalate to the point where I have to worry about the well-being of the people. If it does, if it has to, then I do hope it’s all worth it in the end.

The red flag of Hong Kong with the bauhinia flower.

Hong Kong Flag

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You Darn Kids and Your Social Media

The moment I got back from secondary school, I would jump in front of the computer and sign in on MSN. I’d change my status and name occasionally to reflect the teen angst I thought at the time was powerful and thought-provoking (all of which in reality was cringe-inducingly bad), as we all do at some point.

That was pretty much the extent of my presence on social media. I added my classmates, spoke to them, annoyed them by sending a nudge, all that stuff. Most of you 20-something year old people will know what I’m talking about.

It was much simpler. It didn’t keep us from anything and, personally, I don’t feel like it affected me the way social media seems to affect people now.

It’s difficult to feel anything but a sense of wonderment when we look back and see how far we’ve come in regards to how much things have changed in our connection with others. It’s not just our friends we interact with now, it’s complete strangers, it’s celebrities — hell, even big brands are interacting with people on the Internet.

Admittedly, I’ve always been a bit oblivious when it comes to social media. I’ve had a Twitter account for a couple of years now but I’ve never really used it. I check the feed fairly often, but only because sometimes that’s the best way to gather entertainment news.

Quite a few writers have said that half the work writers do is marketing. After all, it’s not enough to have written something spectacular or Earth-shattering, you actually have to get people to read it. Nowadays that means competing with everyone else on a platform to have your voice heard.

It took me a while to really learn that. Years ago, when I was writing and publishing my novellas, I decided to avoid using social media for shameless self-promotion. That turned out well…

I may not be trying to promote any particular project but recently I figured I would try using social media a bit more. The problem was I had no idea where to begin, so I enlisted the aid of a few experts…and by “experts,” I mean younger people. My younger sisters, to be precise.

Now, just to clarify, I was already aware of the basics: use hashtags, follow people, and expect a ton of bots to follow you.

That knowledge helped me in no way.

Both my sisters opened my eyes to the insane amount of work that goes into maintaining and growing a social media account. Part of it made me feel unsure, especially when I was shown what other Instagram and Twitter users do to get followers. None that were genuinely popular, mind you, but appeared to be so at a glance.

I didn’t know if that actually helped them promote whatever it was they were doing, but I knew regardless that I wanted to avoid having to do that.

Self-promotion isn’t really my goal on social media. I just feel like sharing the little things about my writing life with interested strangers might be fun. Plus, familiarising myself with it might stop me from feeling as though I’d be more at home on a penny-farthing bicycle.

So I’m writing this to announce my Twitter and Instagram accounts.

I’m going to try and connect with people more so follow me on Twitter (@Narayan_Liu) and Instagram (@Narayan.liu), where I’ll (try) talk about films, TV shows, language, and culture, and update you whenever a new feature or blog post of mine is published…you know, just in case you’re interested.

Hey, What’s Up?

The Death of Enlightenment

I’m currently working on a screenplay I hope to enter in the PAGE International Screenwriting Competition some time in the future.

“The Death of Enlightenment” is the story of two people trying to find happiness. It’s an exploration of what happiness means for young people when they live in one of the densest and most expensive cities in the world. I’m drawing from my own experience growing up in Hong Kong as well as Daoist philosophy, which I’ve been interested in for several years now.

Still Studying

I’m halfway through my freestanding English course at Jönköping University and already I feel like I’ve learned quite a bit.

When I was in secondary school in Hong Kong, I used to love English literature classes. Over-analysing everything someone says is kind of what I do best and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do it.

I can feel the impact it’s having on my work. Of course, writing about the newest superhero films or television series is a bit different since they are two very different storytelling mediums.

I’ll be sad to leave it in three months, but excited to see if my true academic journey into media can begin…which is just my obnoxiously optimistic way of saying, “there’s a programme I’m hoping to get into this autumn which would really help my career in the future.”