HONG KONG – Candidate student Frances Hui sat on a bus in Boston, a thousand kilometers from home in Hong Kong, and had a curious co-driver.
Where do you come from? the passenger pressed.
When she finally answered "Hong Kong," the man began to become aggressive, Hui says. He insisted that she define herself as "from China" – who was given control of the former British colony in 1997.
He continued to tell me, "You are Chinese, you have to fix your identity." "Hui, a junior at Emerson College, said in an interview." I felt very offended. Identity is very personal. That's my thing. "
Hui wrote a column on Emerson's student paper titled " I'm from Hong Kong, not China. "She opened with the line:" I am from a city owned by a country I do not belong to. "
It was soon followed by an intense and even threatening setback from Chinese mainland students at the college.
The clip was far from Hong Kong, but one that reflects major issues that play out in the excoony of identity during that Fast erosion of the territory's autonomy and promised "one country, two systems" conditions.
Five years after massive street protests in Hong Kong over Beijing controls, China has continually tightened its grip on the territory and its young pro-democracy movement, many worrying now over experiencing an accelerated end to Hong Kong's special status, including political and business freedoms.
And they wonder how to answer – increases the possibility of more protests.
The terms of Britain's surrender were intended to guarantee Hong Kong has a high degree of independence, so that the territory can keep its own political, legal and economic systems until 2047.
But Beijing's controls went up to the 2014 street protocols, which saw a hundred thousand people on the streets for months in a of the greatest forced acts against China's Communist Party for decades. Protest the hope of expanding democratic rights and final plans for China to become acquainted with candidates for the city's top job.
In recent months, the Hong Kong courts have imposed and captured the leadership of the democracy movement for up to 16 months despite protests becoming overwhelmingly peaceful . A complaint court on Thursday claimed that 22-year-old Joshua Wong, one of the movement's symbols, will return to jail.
Last year, a party advocating Hong Kong's independence was banned, and a senior Financial Times editor was expelled. No official explanation was given for the editor's expulsion, but he had been conversing with the founder of the Independence Party just weeks before at the Foreign Correspondents & # 39; Club.
Hong Kong's government is also pushing a bill that would offend The Chinese national anthem is a crime. Throughout Hong Kong, advertisements and posters market "Greater Bay Area", a Beijing-driven plan that will draw the city closer to the mainland.
Most controversially, Hong Kong's government is pushing for a extradition bill that will allow refugees to be transferred from the enclave to any jurisdiction in the world, even without a formal agreement – which effectively expands Beijing's forces in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's lawyer came down in chaos on May 11 over the bill. Scuffles broke out between lawmakers and one was taken to hospital.
A Congress Commission in Washington said the extradition law, if it should pass, "could create serious dangers for US national security and economic interests in the territory" and could break a US-Hong Kong act that would allow Washington to deal with the City is separated. China.
"At the heart of each of these projects and efforts is a political calculation from Beijing, asking: What can we do to reduce Hong Kong as a place," said Jeffrey Ngo, a Hong Kong democracy activist and graduate student at Georgetown University. "It's very sad, but it has certainly motivated people to claim, even stronger, the Hong Kong identity."
Earlier this month in Washington, a congressional hearing was held on the future of Hong Kong's independence and how the US government should respond. Live streamed on YouTube, commenting on a chat box commenting while the live video was streaming with comments like "Hong Kong is not China" and "free Hong Kong."
Based on this, Huis Piece was published at the end of April on the website of Emerson College newspaper, Berkley Beacon. It cites experiences from students like her from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet and other places that have struggled to claim China.
A Taiwanese friend she wrote felt compelled to adopt a "Chinese" identity despite her love for Taiwan, too scared to "fight over her identity" with her Chinese friends.
Articles in the student paper usually come anywhere between 20 and 40 views. Huis piece quickly went viral – attracting hundreds of comments and thousands of readers.
"I got a lot of attention, which I really didn't expect," Hui said.
students from Hong Kong, Taiwan and other places like Singapore reached with support and encouragement messages, she said. Among them was Natalie Law, a 22-year-old Hong Kong student at Boston University, who was affiliated with Hui over Instagram. They have since become friends.
"She can speak up for us all, or perhaps a majority of us [who are worried about Hong Kong]," Law said.
The article began to appear over Chinese forums, including the WeChat messenger, shared on Facebook and Instagram pages, and distributed among students far from Boston. Chinese students began to notice their social media, with comments such as "shame on you" and "your parents will be ashamed of you."
Someone in a WeChat group of over 200 Chinese students called her a "psycho" and another said they had seen her around the campus and noticed that she was "a short girl" who had no real power.
"It made me feel very uncomfortable, as I was being watched," she said.
The most devastating comment came from a Chinese student at Emerson, who made Hui his personal Facebook post public. In a post, he wrote a comment that translates to: "Anyone against my biggest China, no matter how far they are, must be executed."
"I was panicking," she said.
Hui has not been physically damaged in any way since the article's publication.
However, her experience reflects that of other Hong Kong's at foreign universities.
Kacey Wong, a visual artist in Hong Kong, remembers pockets of protests at an exhibition he attended last year at the University of Essex outside London. Working on the display centered around Hong Kong's 2014 Umbrella Revolution – named after the umbrellas worn by many protesters – and showed pictures of police hostility.
"They said my exhibition was biased. They asked why we only showed students turned up by police officers, and not the other way around," Wong said. "They created Facebook groups in protests. It seems like a standard standard procedure. "
Hui was a student activist when she was in Hong Kong, along with countless other youths who were inspired by leaders such as Joshua Wong, who was only 17 at the time of the protest." 19659041] "That was the moment of the Renaissance," Wong said. ] However, the pressure on Hong Kong and its quest for greater freedoms has only intensified.
"It's like trying to fight the weather," Wong said. "What can you do? Maybe you can bring an umbrella or wear a raincoat, but you can't shout in the sky and tell it to stop raining. "