July 1, 1997 marked the handover of Hong Kong from Great Britain to the People’s Republic of China, and every July 1 since, hundreds to thousands of people have marched in this city. Since 2003, as this Wikipedia entry informs, the number has sometimes been hundreds of thousands (though, because Hong Kong is terrible with big-number estimates, we never have an exact figure.) This year? “A massive protest is expected,” reports Wall Street Journal. On the docket: direct elections and the resignation of chief executive Leung Chun-ying.
Make no mistake, the protests will achieve nothing, since Hong Kongers are generally a bit too well off — a bit too spoiled by their system and their surroundings, living in an international city of wealth, culture, fashion, media, diversity, bustle, and energy — to actually risk anything. There won’t even be an Occupy movement, because people have better shit to do. “The timing [for Occupy Central] will only be suitable when the central government gives Hong Kong people a proposal for universal suffrage that is not up to international standards,” Chinese University professor Chan Kin-man told SCMP.
But it’ll be a good spectacle (unless Storm Rumbia ruins the party), and the human desire to express itself cannot be suppressed — indeed, grows stronger when it feels imminently threatened by forces of suppression. We tip our hats at those who will gather starting at 2:30 pm at Victoria Park. “Universal suffrage NOW” and “Down with CY Leung” are among the themes. CNN has a slideshow of previous protests. If you participate, let us know how it goes.