Postcard from the Edge

Lennon Wall, Aberdeen Promenade, Hong Kong — Anthony Duignan-Cabrera

Greetings from Hong Kong.

I’ve been receiving instant messages and emails from friends and family all over asking if my husband Bob and I are OK. I just wanted to let everyone know that, yes, we are fine. We tend not to get involved in pro-democracy demonstrations in countries where we are guests and not actual residents or natives.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that the tone of the city has changed in recent weeks. It’s a slow, ballooning tension, commiserate with the heat and humidity that is summer in the subtropics.

The demonstrations in recent days have taken a decidedly darker turn, and, yes, China has prepared the People’s Armed Police and moved them closer to the Shenzhen, Hong Kong border. (The People’s Armed Police are a domestic militia, kind of like the ATF meets the FBI). So, any reports saying China is massing its army at Hong Kong’s border are exaggerating, a lot: China already has a garrison of 6000 troops in Hong Kong, on the island, and in the New Territories.

We love Hong Kong, it’s a city that has been wonderful and generous and welcoming. We also are fond of greater China, to not acknowledge that, would be dishonest. The lack of real dialogue between the demonstrators and the Hong Kong government does not bode well and I’m afraid it will end badly for all involved.

I’m not attempting to whitewash the events of the last ten weeks. In recent days the police use of teargas and beanbag guns has left dozens of demonstrators incapacitated, with one woman losing her eye. One story which gave us pause was that of a retired ex-police officer, a Westerner, and resident since 1979 who was detained for 30 hours by the Hong Kong police while taking a stroll on a Sunday evening. At the airport, demonstrators attacked, then tied up a Global Times reporter for three hours when they opened his bags and found an “I love HK police” t-shirt. Both sides, unfortunately, mean business.

Bob and I are safe; our friends are safe, or fortunately out of town on summer family vacations. Those who are in town, are giving, like ourselves, the protests a wide berth.

But, there is one thing I will say; despite the tension and violence of some of the protests, we feel safe. The odds of being shot by a Trump-supporting white supremacist in a church, a box store or a high school back in the US are much higher than anything bad happening to us in Hong Kong.

And that is pretty much a commentary on what a sad state the world is in right now.

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