Because they can’t reveal his identity or anything specific about him, ABC News refers to the student protester they interviewed as Citizen X. Citizen X is well aware that by taking a stand against the communist tyranny of mainland China, he could very well wind up in prison or worse. While he worries about that some, he’s convinced he has to stand up or he and future generations won’t have any freedom to lose:
“I think this is a risk worth taking,” Citizen X told me a few days later at a secret meeting in a darkened room. He did not want to be filmed up-close for fear of being identified, what he and others call a “white terror” — the fear of being singled out and detained through the use of facial recognition technology. Being found guilty of “rioting”, a term he and almost all protesters hotly dispute, carries a term of imprisonment of 10 years…
Was his life worth the risk? He didn’t hesitate to answer. “I think that is a risk worth taking because we cannot just think about ourselves,” he said. “We will give all we can give because we want to see a free world in our city and in our home. Freedom is never free and that is why we need to take the risks for the greater good for all the Hong Kong citizens.”…
Citizen X compared his struggle to that of America’s fight for independence. “Today in the eyes of the communist government we are just a group of rioters. But I believe that the Founding Fathers initially were also seen by the British, by the colonial rulers as rioters,” he said.
“Will they see us as rioters or will they see us as founding fathers,” he wondered. “That will be determined by our actions in the future months in the coming protests.”
As the Vice News report below shows, the behavior of the police in Hong Kong is escalating. Last weekend they pulled out guns and aimed them at protesters. Some police fired warning shots in the air. As Taylor pointed out this morning, police have banned a planned demonstration for this coming weekend so we may see another escalation of tactics in response to the protests.
With China’s National Day coming up on October 1st, the mainland will want these ongoing protests ended by then. I’d like to believe that people fighting for their own freedom and the freedom of their descendants can still triumph over tyranny, but in the case of the United States, that took a war. China seems to be preparing for that potential conflict. Citizen X seems to grasp what’s at stake and I believe he’s right, but practically speaking I’m not sure how a bunch of idealistic young people can face down Chinese troops.
Maybe the students are counting on the media to push world opinion to their side in hopes China can be shamed out of a violent crackdown. But it seems like a big risk to assume China will care. The mainland knows it can block unflattering images and headlines about the coming conflict in Hong Kong the same way it already blocks images of Tiananmen Square.