Why Are Hong Kong Protesters Still Going Back to Bygone Colonial Era

They smashed glass windows, sprayed rude graffiti and defaced Hong Kong’s official emblem with black paint. But of all the dramatic photos showing hundreds of young protesters storming the city’s legislative building this week, one image makes for particularly uncomfortable viewing in Beijing: The British colonial flag draped aloft a podium in the assembly’s chamber. That’s not all. On a day supposed to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the “motherland,” other protesters were pictured defiantly flying giant Union flags in the Legislative Council. Why are some protesters — many of them millennials — harking back to a bygone colonial era, two decades after Britain handed the city over to China as a semi-autonomous territory? “Does it really mean that people seriously want colonial rule again? No — but I don’t think there’s any dispute among protesters that British rule was better than what we’ve got after the handover, especially in recent years,” said Lam Yin Pong, a Hong Kong journalist. “There might be some element of a rose-tinted lens. Perhaps some people are fantasizing about the ‘good old days,’” he added. “But what’s clear is that under colonial rule there was never a clear feeling of freedoms being gradually eroded, of a series of government actions completely against our interests.” Hong Kong has been rocked by massive street protests and its most serious political crisis after its government tried to push through legislation that would allow suspects in crimes to be extradited to mainland China for…

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