Throngs of people have come to Hong Kong to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II, marking the greatest gathering of civilians in the country since China strictly prohibited public demonstrations over two years ago.
On Monday, over 2,500 crowds stood in front of the British Consulate. People of all ages and from all walks of life in Hong Kong endured temperatures as high as 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit) to demonstrate their support for the United Kingdom. People sent flowers, frames, and notes written to the “boss lady” or “lady in charge,” as the late Queen was known when the country was a British colony.
While the event is viewed merely as a means to honor the Queen of the United Kingdom, some consider it as a sort of protest against China, which has subsequently prohibited such gatherings under a law passed in June 2020.
Protesting was outlawed under Hong Kong’s national security statute. The law effectively suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations in the country. Others claim that the law was passed under the pretense of covid regulation.
The event has also come to confront the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s desire for Hong Kong residents to forget the past. It has also called into question the claim made in several literature in the nation that Hong Kong was never a colony. Authorities instead refer to it as “forcible occupation.”
Many were delighted by the gathering
People were overjoyed to have joined the gathering. Wing, who did not want his full name revealed, said it felt good to be part of a large group again after a long time.
“I feel angry that the Hong Kong government is not showing any respect properly (to the Queen). They’re scared of the Chinese government telling them off, but we were part of the colony,” he said.
Another resident, Sylvia Lee, stated that Queen Elizabeth’s death was a sad day for the planet since she symbolized stability and authority for women.
“No one lives forever, and we knew this day would come someday. She was a respected figure, and the government during the colonial period made many contributions to Hong Kong’s development, especially in the 70s and 80s,” she said.
Subtly protesting against China
At first glance, the event may imply that China and Hong Kong are standing in solidarity with the Western countries in their grief over the demise of Queen Elizabeth II. It is reasonable to state that it is purely out of solidarity since Chinese President Xi Jinping and Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee both expressed their condolences to the United Kingdom.
More than that, the collective passion felt by the people reminded them of pro-democracy movements held in the nation that called out China.
Britain and the United Kingdom have had a relationship for over a century. During the nineteenth century, Hong Kong served as an opium trading post between China and Britain. For almost 156 years, the British occupied and governed Hong Kong. Unfortunately, when the colonists departed the nation, they were given over to China.
“It was (the Queen’s) empire that, in 1997, handed us over to China against our wishes,” Jeffrey Ngo explained.
He added that “The feeling is understandable, given that the intuitive point of comparison is Hong Kong under Chinese rule. I respect their lived experience, albeit it’s not something I share. For me, the monarchy’s wealth and prestige are impossible to disentangle from the empire’s violence and expansionism.”