Hong Kong backbone stays resilient to safeguard city

By Bai Yunyi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/27 22:43:40

Alliance to counter evil trends, promote righteousness in HK

Taxis hanging China's national flags rally on the main streets of Hong Kong on Friday. Photo: Xinhua

While violent protesters in Hong Kong attacked police officers, blocked traffic, set fires, beat up tourists and journalists under the cover of opposing the "anti-extradition bill" in the past two months, another force in the region demonstrates to people that Hong Kong is still the city with the Lion Rock spirit - which represents the resilience and diligence of Hongkongers - and still the Pearl of the Orient that has its heart connected to its motherland. 

Supporting police, offering rewards for clues to bring rioters to justice, gathering at Tamar Park to fight violence and safeguard Hong Kong, taxis with the Chinese national flags rallying on main streets of Hong Kong: Behind all these movements is the Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance organized by Hong Kong lawyer Kennedy Wong Ying-ho.

The alliance has also been joined by influential figures such as Leung Chun-ying, former chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). 

Wong proposed in May to Stanley Ng Chau-pei, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, and Brave Chan Yung, vice chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), the establishment of an alliance to support the extradition bill and explain its meaning to locals, as Wong found most people had a smattering of knowledge about the bill.  

However, as the situation escalated with violent protesters storming and vandalizing the Hong Kong Legislative Council on July 1, Wong and his partners decided to adjust the alliance's approach to stop the violence and safeguard Hong Kong. 

"I was thinking we have to unite strengths from all sectors of Hong Kong society to promote righteousness and counter evil trends," Wong told the Global Times. The alliance soon gathered the support of 380 social organizations in Hong Kong under this common goal. 

After some radical protesters threw China's national flag into the sea in early August, the alliance immediately ordered 12,000 national flags and distributed them to residents.

After rioters messed up the Hong Kong International Airport, beat tourists and journalists from the mainland, the alliance donated millions of Hong Kong dollars as bounty for clues to bring the suspects to justice.

Anti-government forces scheduled an assembly on August 18 at Victoria Park. The alliance said it motivated tens of thousands of residents to gather at Tamar Park one day earlier to fight violence and safeguard Hong Kong.

In Wong's words, where there is violence, there are the alliance's patriotic actions to safeguard Hong Kong.

In the alliance's latest action, more than 500 Hong Kong taxis hung national flags and rallied on the main streets of the city on Saturday night. 

"Anti-government forces organized the 'Hong Kong-independence human chain,' we organized 'Love China, love Hong Kong taxi chain,'" Wong said. 

The chaotic situation has scared many mainland visitors away and halved taxi drivers' income, so they really hope that peace and order could be restored as soon as possible. 

"We hope this action can retain people's good impression of Hong Kong and would like to come here," Wong said. 

Anti-government forces are planning to stage a mass protest August 31 and launch a students' strike in early September when the new semester starts. 

Wong said that the alliance is certain to act, but he refused to disclose specific plans as he said the alliance has been targeted by radical protesters and could be attacked any time.    

The alliance is also drafting an open letter to principals of all Hong Kong primary and middle schools to oppose strikes and politics in the classroom and call for the protection of policemen's children in case of school bullying.   

People from all walks of life take part in a rally to voice their opposition to violence and call for restoring social order, expressing the people's common will to protect and save the city at Tamar Park in Hong Kong on August 17. Photo: Xinhua

Special member 

Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance consists of influential members of commercial and business circles including Tam Yiu-chung, former DAB president and deputy to the National People's Congress, Henry Tang Ying-yen, former chief secretary for administration of HKSAR and member of the standing committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, and the most special one, Leung Chun-ying, who is the alliance's chief adviser. 

Wong said that the alliance succeeded in contacting Leung through WeChat before visiting him and introducing to him the alliance's goal and work face to face. Leung agreed with the alliance very much and immediately decided to join.       

"Leung's ancestral home is in East China's Shandong Province and he is very straightforward and enthusiastic. He agreed to be our chief advisor right away as he had long been angry with what the radicals did," Wong said. "One thing impressed me deeply is that when we distributed national flags to Hong Kong residents, Leung called me and asked if we can send him two flags. He wanted to hang the flags at home."

Another impressive thing took place on the day they gathered to support the police. "I told Leung about our plan to support the police. Leung wanted to join. But as former chief executive and vice chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC, he is unlikely to go on the street at the front as us. So he went to a police station near his house and took a picture at the station gate with his thumb up to show his support for the police," Wong said.

Mainstay of alliance

Apart from social organizations and commerce chambers, hometown associations also play a vital part in the alliance, including federations of Hong Kong Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang and Hainan community organizations. The alliance's main members like Wong and Tang are also presidents of Guangdong and Jiangsu hometown associations. 

Hometown associations originated with the immigration history of Hong Kong to help fellow townsmen connect with each other. 

Then in the period of reform and opening-up, the associations played a crucial role in motivating Hong Kong businessmen to invest in the Chinese mainland. 

And now, the associations are gradually growing into an important strength in sustaining Hong Kong's social stability and voicing love for the country and the city.  

According to Hong Kong media, more than 300 hometown associations participated in the anti-Occupy Central group in 2014 among a total of 1,528 organizations and 140,000 people. 

In 2010 and 2012, these associations also voiced support for the central government amid controversy over political reform and education curriculum reform. 

Hometown associations not only are solid electorates for pro-establishment groups but also frequently conduct massive mobilization on major political topics, a Hong Kong media has said, noting that the large social network of these associations also helps them easily become one of the active and cohesive patriotic organizations. 

Wong told the Global Times that many of the anti-government forces and radicals in Hong Kong tried to draw a clear distinction and cut off links between the HKSAR and the mainland. 

By contrast, hometown associations are exactly based on a traditional geographic relationship and provincialism. The associations are not only cohesive inside, but also are maintaining a close connection with the mainland. 

"Hometown associations are aimed at promoting integration and cooperation between HKSAR and the mainland, and all the members share a common point: being Chinese. So we naturally are the biggest enemy of Hong Kong-independence forces and radicals," Wong said.
Newspaper headline: HK backbone stays resilient


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