My residents of Hong Kong have been wary of the mainland’s growing influence and involvement on the once British colony. Mainland Chinese are very unlike their Hong Kong counter-parts, who speak a mutually unintelligible dialect of Chinese and have a long history with free speech, free markets, and international interaction. Ever since the United Kingdom handed sovereignty over Hong Kong back to the PRC on July 1, 1997, there has been a feeling of uneasiness permeating the island. Recently booksellers who were marketing titles with anti-mainland themes and dissident content have disappeared from their homes in Hong Kong and reappeared in custody within Mainland China. The public’s worry and dissatisfaction with Mainland rule has been rising.
Last week, at the Hong Kong Film Awards the movie “Ten Years”, which depicts a dystopian future for the island as the PRC implements stricter crackdowns on the local people, won best film. Immediately following the announcement of the award, coverage of the awards show was shut down on the Mainland and even now the list of winners does not include “Ten Years” on Mainland websites. The PRC is being very clear about its opinions on dissenting media, which in my opinion gives legitimacy to the rather extreme outlook portrayed in the movie. By shutting down access to the film, Beijing is just solidifying the fact in many Hong Kong residents’ minds that the future under PRC rule is not a bright one. I fear this dramatized story could become more of a reality soon. The British government has a large responsibility to ensure that the rights of Hong Kong citizens are protected. I hope London will remember its ties to the island city.