In Hong Kong, `Joining Hearts' With Mainland Protesters
HONG KONG — WHEN an estimated 500,000 people converged at the center of Hong Kong last Sunday in an extraordinary outpouring of support for the student-led movement in China, citizens of this British colony were also fighting for their future. ``If China has no democracy, then Hong Kong has no democracy,'' said Helia Hai Sui Ying, a 21-year-old Hong Kong University student, explaining her motives for joining the others beginning over a week ago for unprecedented protests.
``We are fighting for the same thing, so we must join our hearts together,'' Miss Hai pleaded, as she stood outside the New China News Agency, China's official news branch in Hong Kong.
According to wire reports, organizers claimed that 1 million people joined the crowds in the Central business district - equal or above the peak turnout estimated for a rally the previous Sunday for the same cause.
The rallies exploded the long-standing view that Hong Kong people are politically apathetic, and the turnout for the second one showed there was no waning of support among Hong Kong's 98 percent Chinese population for the democracy movement.
Cries of ``Li Peng step down'' and ``Deng Xiaoping resign,'' directed at Beijing's prime minister and senior leader, reverberated amid banner-waving throngs.
In 1997, this British colony of 5.8 million Hong Kong citizens reverts back to China's jurisdiction. The draft Basic Law, a mini-constitution for post-1997 Hong Kong presented four and one-half years ago, sets forth the theme of ``one country, two systems'' to ensure the territory's high degree of autonomy.
But in the wake of demonstrations for democracy in China, and the declaration of martial law, fears over the future of Hong Kong have emerged. As a result, two local drafters, Anglican Bishop of Hong Kong and Macau, the Rev. Peter Kwong Kong Kit, and Louis Cha of the draft Basic Law Committee, resigned this month.
The consultative body's executive committee has expressed concern over the recent events on the mainland which it said had profoundly affected its work.
``We are temporarily unable to carry out our work as planned. We note that these events have done great damage to Hong Kong people's confidence in the Basic Law,'' the committee said in a released statement.
Meanwhile, as the political future of the territory depends on the turn of events in China, a growing kinship for the Mainland Chinese is evident here.
After martial law was declared in China, a local Hong Kong radio station extended its two-hour talk show to six hours as it was flooded with calls from outraged citizens.
More than 300 taxi drivers staged a go-slow protest last week on both sides of the harbor in support of the Beijing students.