Thu. Oct 28th, 2021

Hong Kong, China – While teaching in Hong Kong in 2011, filmmaker Ing Liang was banned from traveling to mainland China after a Beijing mother made a documentary about trying to save her son from the death penalty.

Ten years after accidentally immigrating, Ying tries to take full advantage of the city’s independence, as they have been threatened. National Security Act And crackdown on pro-democracy politicians and activists.

Last month, Ying showed the offensive film to two viewers at an arts hub.

“We need to nurture our freedom,” he told Al Jazeera.

For most Hong Kong-origin residents, the law undermined long-held freedoms under the “one country, two systems” regime, with the former British colony restored to Chinese sovereignty in 1997-1997.

China has promised the region “higher autonomy” for at least 50 years.

Prior to Beijing’s intervention in the past year, residents of the region were free to protest against the authorities and organize political parties to stand for election.

But mainland immigrants who have enjoyed independence have never enjoyed growing up, fueling fears and anxieties about returning to a more repressive regime.

“I think the crackdown will come down harder and harder than what you see on mainland, it’s better to scare everyone,” says Young, a 34-year-old documentary filmmaker.

“It wasn’t something I had experienced growing up in Shanghai.”

As a father of three, including a two-month-old baby, Ying said he was most concerned about the government’s move Patriotic education.

“The thing that I think is most worrying is what’s going on in the schools,” he said. “While I don’t think every kid will be completely brainwashed, from my experience I know how it will mark you for life. It makes you horrible to care about politics. There was hope for the city even when the students went out to protest.

‘Promised Land’

For most of the past century, Hong Kong has been hailed as the “Promised Land” for millions of Chinese from both mainland and expatriate countries.

Even as China caused such catastrophes – regime change, military aggression, world war, civil war, famine and political sanctions – the British colony stood as an island of relative peace and opportunity.

After one wave of migration from the mainland, only more than half of the city’s 5.5 million people were born.

And since the transfer, more than a million mainland Chinese families have moved to Hong Kong under the Family Reunification Project.

In a 2016 study of newcomers, political scientists in Hong Kong found that “immigrants from China are generally more politically conservative and more supportive of the pro-Beijing ruling coalition in elections.”

But not all.

Flora Chen, 35, has spent the last 10 years outside her hometown of China and vowed to never return.

A job at a university brought him to Hong Kong, which he saw as “an alternative Chinese society where law-enforcement and social customs institutions are protected.

“For the generation of mainland Chinese liberals identified by Hong Kong caretaker Tiananmen [shone] It’s like a beacon of hope, “said China.

Nowhere else on Chinese soil is there a recollection of the 1989 sanctioned crackdown.

But last year, the Hong Kong government for the first time Annual surveillance is prohibited COVID-19 cites risk. Thousands of organizers who violated the ban are now facing trial.

Coming in 2018, Chen took part in anti-government protests a year later. As an academic in the social sciences, Chen said his research is equally “socially involved.”

Hong Kong has long been an immigrant from the mainland – whether to join a family, make money or enjoy the region’s now-disappearing freedom. [File: Anthony Wallace/AFP]

What worries him the most is that narrow academic freedom will soften his career.

“As a parent we know how real fear is. We have learned to be careful and to see what we say, “Chen told Al Jazeera.

“But now I can start noticing the fear on the faces of my students. Their faces are characterized by powerless, wounded and wounded. ”

Even as the Chinese economy collapsed in the last quarter of a century, Hong Kong retains its prerogative as a land of opportunity for many mainlanders, equipped with a rule-based system that is even more beautiful than they used to be.

Outside the family visa scheme, the largest group of mainland immigrants came for higher education.

Postgraduate programs at all local universities are now dominated by mainland students who take advantage of the opportunities offered in the region after graduation.

When she left her hometown just 300 kilometers (186 miles) away to pursue a master’s degree in media studies in Hong Kong, Jacqueline Zhang thought she would only be a few years away.

But almost 10 years later, 32-year-old Zhang says he enjoys living in a society where fair play and transparency are the norm. On the mainland, he says, it’s “Guangxi” – a network of connections and family ties – issues and accountability are rare.

Since Hong Kong moved into Beijing’s old courtyard, Zhang said the “fear is growing” for mainland residents and those who have friends north of the border.

Authorities are known for harassing relatives of mainland Chinese who are politically active, hoping to exploit family pressures to put them in “trouble.”

Zhang said he knows the mainland Chinese people well in Hong Kong’s self-imposed exile, fearing their political participation has put them on a watch list. They fear that traveling to any home could result in an exit ban that could prevent them from traveling outside the country again.

The former journalist, Zhang is not sure if he is on any watch list but he said he does not want a chance.

For now, he has found comfort and camaraderie in the “tribes” he has found in Hong Kong – people who are not afraid to discuss so-called prohibited issues and back away from the idea of ​​censorship.

“Freedom and the rule of law are like the wind. You don’t feel it so much while it’s there, ”Zhang said

“You feel it as soon as it is removed from you”

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