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Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Working in a Hong Kong Hole

construction crew at an excavation next to Dundas Street in Hong Kong
Next to Dundas Street in Mong Kok


Since beginning this blog, I have never gone sans posting for so long before — not even close.

Now I will begin working myself out of this hole.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Protests, Coronavirus Fears, and Valentine's Day Converge at a Hong Kong Prison

On Friday in front of the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre - a maximum security institution — hundreds of people gathered to show solidarity with detained protestors. What one of the participants held and wore particularly captured the unique convergence of events in Hong Kong that night: a face covering used by some anti-government protestors to hide their identity, 3M safety goggles to protect against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and a rose fitting the theme of the rally: "Valentine's Day With You".

person holding a rose and wearing a face mask and goggles


The gathering differed from several other rallies held at the same location during recent months in that the organizers did not apply for a letter of no objection from the police. Although the police were clearly keeping an eye on things, they didn't interfere with the rally until it had nearly reached the two hour mark, which is about how long some of the previous rallies lasted. At that that time, police came into the protest area while holding up blue warning flags with the text: "This meeting or procession is in breach of the law. Disperse or we may use force."

Disperse they did. And Valentine's Day came to an end at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Nearly Empty and Policed: Last Night at Hong Kong Port and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

Hong Kong Port, the border checkpoint for people using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB), is one of the few remaining checkpoints open in Hong Kong for direct travel to or from mainland China — a response to the still-spreading Wuhan coronavirus and its effects. With the closing of all cross-borer ferry and helicopter services, the bridge is also the only way to travel directly between Hong Kong and Macau. Despite the dwindling options for reaching Macau or mainland China, when I arrived there last night at around 7 p.m. the Departure Hall was nearly empty.

Hong Kong Port departure hall with hardly any travelers


On the plus side, passing through immigration was a breeze as there were no line for the single immigration officer handling visitors.

The bridge showed few signs of travelers as well.

no other vehicles in sight on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge


At times no other vehicles were in sight. Quite regularly, more than a minute would pass between any vehicles headed in the opposite direction passing us. Although I have found traffic on the bridge to be rather light in the past, even before Hong Kong was dealing with a virus outbreak or protests, last night was more extreme.

When I returned to Hong Kong Port shortly before 2 a.m. after an evening in Macau, I wasn't surprised to find it similarly quiet at first. However, after clearing customs the Arrival Hall provided a surprise: approximately 20 police in riot gear who were on their way out of the building.

numerous police in riot gear walking through the Hong Kong Port Arrival Hall
Definitely back in Hong Kong


I don't know if the police were responding to a specific threat, but Hong Kong Port might be a prime target for protestors who seek a more complete closure of the border between Hong Kong and mainland China.

Perhaps they don't need to bother.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Receiving News of Kobe Bryant's Death in the Midst of Hong Kong Protests, a Spreading Virus, and a Lunar New Year

police blocking Portland Street in Mong Kok, Hong Kong
A blocked section of Portland Street next to Langham Place


While police nearby guarded a street blocked due to a long night of protests in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, a young man next to me exclaimed, "Whoah!"

When I looked at him he said, seemingly stunned, "Did you know Kobe Bryant died?"

"No. Wait, what?"

He showed me his phone.

mobile phone displaying New York Post article on Kobe Bryant's death


He then expressed his shock over the news and shared how he had been a fan of Bryant since being a child.

Kobe Bryant has a large number of fans in mainland China as well. Patrick Brzeski reported on how people there were saddened by the news:
By mid-afternoon, local time, the hashtag devoted to Bryant's death on Weibo had attracted an astounding 2.4 billion views and tens of millions of engagements, making it by far the most widely read and discussed topic of the day.

The reports of Bryant's death seemed only to compound the dismay many millions in China have been feeling over the deadly coronavirus that has plunged the country into crisis during the family holiday season of Lunar New Year. A common refrain on social media was a plea wishing that 2020 could simply be started over. . . .

Just three days ago, Bryant posted a happy Chinese New Year message to his own Weibo profile, where he has 9.2 million followers. "Xin Chun Kuai Le to my dear friends in China!" he wrote.

Monday, January 6, 2020

A Face Mask Left Behind on New Year's Day in Hong Kong

I never intended to not post here for such an extended period of time. I certainly am not lacking in material or thoughts. I could post about fresh blood on a wall bordering a garden in Sheung Shui, a young woman stomping on a man's head in Mong Kok, or notes of hope in Central — all in Hong Kong.

For now, here is photo of a face mask, bricks, and a wheelbarrow in the middle of a street in Causeway Bay after a very large New Year's Day protest march and . . . more.

face mask, bricks, and wheelbarrow on a street


While the intended purposes of the items seem clear to me, I don't what exact event led to this state. I don't expect to ever know, but a chaotic scene seems likely. Plenty of such scenes played out on New Year's Day in Hong Kong. And more have since.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Before and After the New Year on a Street in Hong Kong

Just before 11 p.m in Hong Kong New Year's Eve at Sai Yeung Choi Street South seemed moderately usual:

Sai Yeung Choi Street South just before New Year's


Around 3 a.m. New Year's at Sai Yeung Choi Street South had a different feeling though:

Police at Sai Yeung Choi Street South


Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Thursday, December 12, 2019

O Fortuna, the Wheel Brings Another Message

First there were ballerinas with umbrellas above "Free HK".  Then there was blackness. Now, there is a different message.

"Stop Police Cruelty" graffiti on pedestrian bridge to Central Piers with the Hong Kong Observation Wheel in the background


The "Stop Police Brutality" graffiti is on a number of beams on a pedestrian bridge connecting to the Central Piers in Hong Kong. In all of the examples I saw, they were placed directly on top of areas that had been painted black to cover previous graffiti.

two examples of "Stop Police Cruelty" graffiti on pedestrian bridge to Central Piers


It is now the predominant graffiti design on the bridge, though there is at least one example of partially symbolic graffiti expressing the protest slogan "Five Demands, Not One Less".

"Five Demands Not One Less" (using symbols) graffiti on pedestrian bridge to Central Piers with the Hong Kong Observation Wheel in the background


However, there appeared to be more examples of untouched painted-black areas than of recent graffiti. This is consistent with what I have seen in various parts of Hong Kong, whether Central, Tsing Yi, or Yau Tsim Mong. Newer protest graffiti, posters, and other forms of visible expression continue to replace older ones, but overall there is far less now compared to a few weeks ago.

And the wheel keeps turning . . . 

Friday, November 29, 2019

From Tear Gas to Painted Records in Hong Kong

During the past several weeks in Hong Kong I have seen many people wearing heavy-duty respirator masks. Today was the first time they weren't being worn due to concerns about tear gas.

two artists wearing respiratory masks spray painting vinyl records


So that's kind of nice.

Later, I will share a number of protested-related photos from the past weeks. I held a number of them back due to wanting either to have a better sense of the protests or to wait for certain aspects of them to finish / reach a new phase. That seems to have happened, so more soon.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Thanksgiving Dinner View of Police in Hong Kong

In the past, I have shared some of my Thanksgiving day experiences in different cities, such as drinking horse milk baijiu in Zhongshan and a rat running up my leg in Changsha. Like those times, today in Hong Kong offered me something new.

I observed the traditions by finding a buffet which included turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. For a bonus, the restaurant staff kindly sat me at a location with a prime view of the world outside. As I ate way too much food, I had the opportunity to watch a number of police vehicles, sometimes with sirens blaring and likely containing Special Tactical Squads or Police Tactical Units, head southward.

police vehicles on Hong Kong street


police vehicles on Hong Kong street


Their activity was possibly related to a nearby protest rally. I later visited it and saw no outward signs of police in the immediate vicinity though. So for the first time on this holiday, I felt like I should give thanks that no police shot tear gas in my direction today.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

O Fortuna, A Whirling Wheel in Hong Kong

graffiti of "FREE HK" and dancer holding an umbrella with the Hong Kong Observation Wheel lit up in red in the background at night

Sors immanis
et inanis,
rota tu volubilis . . .




——————————————————————————



So now an explanation for those who would like one:

As I took the above photo today near the Hong Kong Observation Wheel, the opening section O Fortuna from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana came to mind and it stayed there for a while. Here is an excellent recording of the widely used piece, which many will recognize at least in part even if they don't know its name, with Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus:


You can find the lyrics alongside an English translation here. The translation for the excerpt I shared above is:

Fate — monstrous
and empty,
you whirling wheel . . .

While much of Carmina Burana isn't as familiar to most people as the movement O Fortuna, it is certainly worth listening to in full while following along with a translation. There are even a few more references to the wheel.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Three Candidates With Shared Political Values and Fates Campaigning on Election Day in Yau Tsim Mong, Hong Kong

While taking a look at seven different polling stations yesterday evening during Hong Kong's District Council elections, by chance I came across three candidates while they were still campaigning.

One was Leslie Chan (Chan Ka Long), who was running for the Tsim Sha Tsui West constituency.

Leslie Chan (Chan Ka Long) campaigning in Tsim Sha Tsui
In front of iSquare

Speaking in both Cantonese and English, Chan made it clear he was supportive of the five demands made by many protestors in the city.


Another was Leo Chu (Chu Tsz Lok) who was running for the East Tsim Sha Tsui & King's Park constituency.

Leo Chu (Chu Tsz Lok) campaigning
Alongside Nathan Road near Man Ming Lane

As Chu spoke to a couple of women, people campaigned nearby for other candidates.


The last candidate I saw campaigning was Ben Lam (Lam Siu Pan), who was running for the Mong Kok East constituency.

Ben Lam (Lam Siu Pan) campaigning outside of Prince Edward Station
Outside Exit A of Prince Edward Station

Just 40 minutes before Mong Kok East's polling station a few hundred meters away would close at 10:30 p.m., Lam was greeting people as they left Prince Edward Station, where riot police stormed train carriages and beat people several months ago.

To my surprise, I later discovered all three candidates I happened to see were in the pro-democracy camp. Their results reflect the immense success of pro-democracy candidates across Hong Kong, as all three won.

So they all have reason to smile even more today.

Ben Lam (Lam Siu Pan) posing for a photo

Polling Stations With and Without Long Lines During a Record-Setting Election in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has just held its 2019 District Council elections. On Sunday morning and afternoon there were reports of long lines at polling stations.

Polling stations were open until at least 10:30 p.m. This evening I visited polling stations for seven different constituencies in the Yao Tsim Mong District roughly between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. None had a line extending outside.

Tsim Sha Tsui West pollling station
Tsim Sha Tsui West


Jordan South polling station
Jordan South


Jordan West polling station
Jordan West


Yau Ma Tei South polling station
Yao Ma Tei South


Mong Kok South polling station
Mong Kok South


Mong Kok West polling station
Mong Kok West


Mong Kok East
Mong Kok East


The same held true in some other locations, which had benefits.

However, there were still long lines at some polling stations not long before polls were to close, As long as people were in line before 10:30 p.m. the Electoral Affairs Commission said they would be able to cast a vote.

Regardless of when and where there were lines today, don't be fooled by my photos. People voted in record numbers. Early results strongly indicate the the pro-democracy groups made major gains against pro-Beijing groups. Words like "decimated" are already being used for the latter.

Still, many races have yet to be declared. More later, but it's already clear Hong Kong's people were very motivated to express themselves through voting after months and months of intense protests.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A Tsim Sha Tsui Sign of the Times in Hong Kong

pole with directional signs for pedestrians that was bent down to the ground by protestors in Hong Kong
Early this evening in Tsim Sha Tsui at one of many sites where protestors gathered last night hoping to help students surrounded by police at the nearby Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Remains of Vehicle Set on Fire Sit for Days in a Hong Kong Street

Early this evening as I walked through Mong Kok, Hong Kong I saw something on Sai Yeung Choi Street that seemed remarkable even after seeing and experiencing so much recently in Hong Kong regarding the ongoing protests.

burned vehicle in Mong Kok


burned vehicle with ""便衣狗車" written on it


inside of heavily damage burned vehicle in Mong Kok


Using the word "dog" for "police", common practice for protestors in Hong Kong, the markings on the the vehicle "便衣狗車" claim it is a plainclothes police car. I can't confirm this is accurate. But the vehicle does look like some unmarked vehicles I have seen on multiple occasions set in the middle of a row of marked police vehicles making their way through the city. In any case, presumably the vehicle's current state is the result of protesters.

This tweet includes a video of a car on fire in Mong Kok which appears to be a perfect match in terms of vehicle type and location:

Perhaps just as remarkable that this car was lit on fire is that it was still sitting in the street. Another person commented on this issue yesterday:

So the car has been sitting there in this not so usable state at least for a couple of days. Of course this is far from Hong Kong's most pressing issue, which is one of many signs of just how widespread and intense the protests have been lately.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Fleeing the Tear Gas in Hong Kong's Central Financial District

This afternoon I observed the interaction of protestors, police, media, medics, and onlookers in Central — Hong Kong's main financial and business district. Suddenly the police started firing numerous tear gas canisters and rounds before leaving the area.

The below video begins with a large crowd following the police as they move away from the area with the frontline black-clad protestors. At 1:49 in the video, as I am standing next to a CNN crew the tear gas canisters begin to fly. As I headed westward on Pedder Street directly away from the police, I thought that quite soon either the firing would stop or that I would be out of harms way. However, the number of tear gas canisters and the distance they reached was more intense than I expected.



For more context, here is the report by CNN's Ivan Watson that was wrapping up while I recorded the above video just as the police began shooting this round of tear gas:


Incredibly this tear gassing of protestors and many others is just a small part of the protest related events today in Hong Kong and seems to pale in comparison to some of them.

And thanks to the helpful Hongkongers who provided me with eyewashes after the tear gassing. I am fine now, folks. I can't say the same for some others here though.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Police Chase and Apprehend Protestors in Mong Kok, Hong Kong

Last night around 12:30 a.m. I thought all seemed relatively calm at my specific location in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Certainly, it was much calmer than what I experienced related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong at a nearby location in Mong Kok two nights earlier.

Suddenly, I saw a number of black-clad protestors running in my direction.

The video I took below captures that moment when all certainly was not calm and number of others including the police apprehending at least two people and a police officer forcibly removing the respirator of a person whose outwear I think indicates "Press" or "Media". Most of the action occurs during the first six minutes of the video. I decided to post the full version in order to share some of the immediate aftermath as well. There is much going on throughout. The video has not been edited in any way except for having been uploaded to YouTube.



It would be an understatement to say I have seen much since I returned to Hong Kong four days ago. It would be a bigger understatement to say much more has happened here regarding the protests during that time. Especially given today's terrible events which include police shooting a protestor, a police officer driving his motorcycle into a crowd, and protestors lighting a person on fire, it is easy to believe the protests and the reactions to them will escalate further.