Friday, 2 February 2018

Yellow Umbrella Nobel Nomination

Nathan Law, Joshua Wong and Alex Chow were nominated for the peace prize
Late last night the news broke that 12 US congressmen had nominated Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang and the Umbrella Movement for the Nobel Peace Prize. It is the first time there has been a nominee from Hong Kong.

As expected, Beijing and pro-establishment politicians were up in arms about it.

In a strongly worded statement, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in part: "Hong Kong's affairs are China's affairs, and China firmly objects to anyone intervening through any means.

Marco Rubio is one of the congressmen who nominated Wong
"We would urge the relevant congressmen to stop meddling with Hong Kong's affairs and China's domestic affairs. They should do more things that are conducive to the development of China-US ties, and not the opposite."

It's a reaction that was totally expected, but will this mean repercussions for Hong Kong?

A friend of mine asked me this today when she asked for my thoughts on the Nobel nomination.

Hong Kong would probably not be punished per say -- the activists have already done their jail time and further restricted in what they can do with their lives. No financial institutions want to open bank accounts with them nor employers hire them for jobs so they are pretty much confined in their livelihoods.

Also with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor at the helm, Beijing has full confidence she has control over the city; protests of that scale will never happen again in the city.

Therefore it's a bit strange that these US congressmen who are critical of China choose to nominate the trio and the Umbrella Movement when it failed to achieve anything in the end. Some may point out things have gotten worse with the further politicization of issues and people. Even the colour yellow has political connotations.

The 2014 Umbrella Movement was unprecedented in its scale
Hong Kong residents didn't get one man, one vote. The government tried to ram electoral reform down their throats but the majority of people didn't buy it.

However a few good things came out of the movement. Young people became less apathetic and more interested in politics. Sadly they have been dismissed as decent political contenders in the upcoming by-election for seats in the Legislative Council -- we're thinking of Agnes Chow Ting here -- but that hasn't stopped them, even those in high school to be more politically aware of what is going on.

The other good thing about this Nobel nomination is that it reminds the rest of the world about the plight of Hong Kong. Some may vaguely remember the relatively peaceful protests that went on for 79 days, or others will learn about it for the first time. Drawing attention to Hong Kong is a good thing. Any publicity is good publicity.

We're assuming this news was blocked in China, and besides, Beijing should realize that anyone can nominate anyone for a Nobel prize and it doesn't mean the committee will take all the nominations seriously.

Regardless, being nominated is a sign that Hong Kong's struggle for democracy is not forgotten.

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