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Democracy as I Understand It——To Hong Kong’s Occupy Central Movement

December 1, 2014

Excerpted from the Chinese original

[Translation by Human Rights in China]

“Democracy” may be more than just one-person, one-vote to elect the top leaders. What is more important is equality and mutual respect. That is, treat everyone—and their opinions—equally and with respect.

Every one of us has our own experiences, like every country has its own history. These experiences ultimately shape our thinking and character, which of course includes political opinions.

It is hard for us to say whether others’ perspectives are right or wrong. “Understand” is far easier said than done. Even brothers and friends who grow up together may become totally different people as adults, let alone people from different environments.

But it is much easier to achieve “equality and respect.” You need only to remember this: your opinion is not necessarily loftier or grander than others’.

To get back to the matter at hand: it is understandable that some Hong Kong people are dissatisfied with the political reform plan issued by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and they took to the streets in protest.

If this were the only thing, I believe I will also support you, and most of us will support you. But you’ve occupied other people’s roads—and that’s a whole different matter.

When I worked in mainland China, I also worked at highly seasonal jobs in the tourism industry.

I am not familiar with the situation in Hong Kong. But in my hometown, a shop along the main street can easily cost more than 100,000 yuan—even hundreds of thousands—a year to rent.

It is hard to earn money off-season in the tourism industry. Shop owners count on making a little more money in the few busy months every year in order to buy some decent clothes for their children. But now, you’ve taken all that away, so how can they not be angry?

When faced with others’ anger, do you still feel lofty? Let alone that your opinion doesn’t seem loftier than that others’; even if it were, you still should respect others’ perspectives if they don’t accept yours.

Equality and respect themselves are parts of what forms a democracy. Without either of these two parts, democracy is not democracy.

When using this kind of undemocratic method to fight for democracy, even a success becomes a failure. Next time you engage in civil disobedience, don’t occupy others’ roads. This is what I’ve learned from this failed “Occupy Central.” 

A post-90s’youth from Mainland China

November 19, 2014

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