On Hollywood Road

Ai Weiwei

Posted in Uncategorized by Alex Daye on April 21, 2011

Hong Kong is not a town known for its politically engaged citizenry. Obviously this has much to do with the fact that there are so few ways for ordinary people to the participate in the political process and a bit more to do with theĀ  long history of mercantile pragmatism this little island is so famous for. I can’t think of any other city so fabulously wealthy and bourgeois, for example, that would condone the insane levels of pollution we do here: air pollution, noise pollution, light pollution, water pollution, beach pollution- if it can be polluted, then we’ll put up with it! And all in the name of business getting done and people getting richer. But I have noticed that Hong Kong people will turn it out in force when they sense the Chinese government is overstepping: whether its the arrest of “tainted milk activist” Zhao Lianhai, whom the Chinese government ultimately released after a furious outcry here in Hong Kong or the razing of villages in the New Territories to build a high speed rail link to Guangzhou, it seems that people here – particularly young people- are increasingly defining themselves politically in opposition to China. Most recently Hong Kong, like the rest of the free and kind-of-free world, have watched in horror as the Chinese government has “disappeared” scores of activists and dissidents. Protests here have been getting messy recently, a surprise development in a society which has had only one period of serious political unrest and that over a generation ago. The bartender at my favorite watering hole informed me that there will be a march Easter Sunday from Mongkok, just one week after another. And though as an English speaker, and thus part of the most politically apathetic class of people in town, I don’t hear much of what the locals are saying, I can see the writing on the walls…