She is not the only one who believes that Hongkongers need to step up radical action.
Since the end of the Occupy Movement, young people’s anger has been directed at the traditional pan-democracy camp and student organisations as well as the government. The pan-democrats have been criticised for lacking ability and sincerity in fighting for democracy in Hong Kong.
“I won’t cooperate with them [the pan-democrats]. We are doing different things. They can do their thing, and I won’t stop them. They can go marching, they can hand in petition letters, I won’t stop them. But I will take action on my own,” says Chan Ho-tin.
Chan is a 25-year-old graduate of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. As an undergraduate, he was the convenor of a concern group which instigated a university referendum for the withdrawal of the university’s student union from the Hong Kong Federation of Students in April this year. He has chosen to stand on the frontline in many “radical” protests, including the anti-parallel trading rallies that frequently involved physical conflicts between demonstrators and the police.
Chan says Hong Kong may have reached the stage where revolution is necessary. He gives the example of Korea and Taiwan, where deaths occurred before there was democracy. He thinks that if some Hongkongers are willing to fight for their city, it is very likely there will be bloodshed. “And I think, I have to join as well,” says Chan.
The government may not be meeting the political demands of Hong Kong’s youth but is aware of their dissatisfaction. Both the administration and the pro-establishment camp have responded in various ways – on the one hand criticising young people’s radical behaviour and on the other implementing specific policies targeting young people.
In November, as the Occupy Movement was ongoing, executive councillor and a key ally of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun told a radio programme that her friends were so scared of Hong Kong’s young people that they were considering emigrating.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive set up the Youth Education, Employment and Training Task Force under the Commission on Poverty. The Occupy Movement, he explained, had highlighted a need to review the government’s youth work, with particular reference to young people’s diverse needs and upward social mobility.
All this is too little, too late for Ying Cheung, a Year Four Chinese medicine student at Chinese University. Cheung joined last year’s class boycott and was in Admiralty when police fired teargas at protesters. She also volunteered at medical stations at the occupied sites. Although she says she still cares about Hong Kong, she pays less attention to news and current affairs and does not participate in any socio-political activities. Instead, she has her mind set on finding a job abroad and leaving Hong Kong for good.
“I think Hongkongers have no influence, whatever we do is useless. That’s to say this is no longer a place fit for living,” she says.
Wilson Wong Wai-ho, associate professor of the Department of Government and Public Administration at the Chinese University says the feeling of powerlessness is widespread among Hong Kong’s youngsters. Those like Ying Cheung appear to have given up while others, like Jasmine Choi and Chan Ho-tin, have become more radical because young people cannot participate in politics and the process of decision-making that affects their lives.
“[Their discontent] is because of long-simmering anger and exclusion from participation. Honestly, do you think they want to attack the government in such a fierce way? But, if they don’t do that, what else can they do?”