A Look At Some Of the Pro-Beijing Neighborhoods In Hong Kong

Aug 14, 2019
Originally published on August 14, 2019 7:17 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In Hong Kong, the young protesters have a lot of support among residents. They are united in what they see as a fight against an erosion of civil liberties by Beijing's hand. There are, though, some neighborhoods in the city that do not welcome the protesters. NPR's Anthony Kuhn visited one of them.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: I'm in Hong Kong's North Point district right now, and there are a lot of police and journalists staked out because they've heard rumors that a large number of mainland Chinese have come from Fujian province to Hong Kong to try to attack protesters.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: (Foreign language spoken).

KUHN: Policemen keep order at an intersection on a tense afternoon. Men wearing stickers with Chinese flags are waiting for protesters to march through. A banner over the street lets marchers know they're not welcome here.

Many of the residents of this working-class neighborhood were born in Fujian province a few hundred miles northeast of here and immigrated to Hong Kong beginning in the 1960s. It's one of several politically conservative, pro-Beijing neighborhoods around the city.

Down the street, I meet Xiao Yongli, who was born in Fujian province in 1955 and then moved to Hong Kong to work in construction. He says people here are so angry at the black-clad young protesters they can't even sleep.

XIAO YONGLI: (Through interpreter) If those people dare to come here tonight, something big can happen. Everyone here is like a soldier. Men and women, young and old, we're all prepared.

KUHN: Echoing China's government, Xiao believes that the U.S. is behind the Hong Kong protests, stirring up chaos in an attempt to keep China down.

XIAO: (Through interpreter) You want to do business with us? Sure, let's do it. We'll both benefit. But don't come over here making trouble. The U.S. wants to wipe out the Communist Party, but it can't.

KUHN: Police corner a teenager in a Fujian T-shirt outside a restaurant. They question him in Mandarin, the main dialect on the mainland. He produces what looks like a mainland Chinese ID card, suggesting he's not a local resident.

"What's going on here? Who are you?" - one cop yells in Mandarin as the kid's father comes out to rescue him. An officer gives the kid a few stern words and then lets him go. Later that afternoon, police block off both ends of the protest route through North Point.

ROGER NG: The protesters are not coming to North Point.

KUHN: Civil servant Roger Ng is standing just outside the police roadblocks.

NG: They decide not to come because the Fujian people and the people coming from China.

KUHN: Many accuse the police of cracking down on the protesters while turning a blind eye to the pro-Beijing residents. Ng doubts the Fujianese were acting on their own, although he admits he doesn't have any hard evidence.

NG: I assume they are hired by the Communist Party or Hong Kong government or the Hong Kong police. They hire these people from Fujian, China.

KUHN: I asked Xiao Yongli, the immigrant construction worker, whether people had come from Fujian province to attack the protesters.

XIAO: (Through interpreter) That's what some folks say. We can't shut them up, right?

KUHN: Last week, a wild brawl broke out in North Point between protesters and locals armed with poles. This time, a few journalists say they were attacked by locals. A few arrests are made, but it seems that a major clash is averted.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Hong Kong. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.