Michiana woman describes experience protesting in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong

NOW: Michiana woman describes experience protesting in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Pro-democracy demonstrations continue in Hong Kong Wednesday and one Michiana woman who participated in the protests this summer doesn’t think they will stop anytime soon. 

Notre Dame research assistant Maggie Shum just returned to campus after spending part of her summer in Hong Kong fighting for freedom in her hometown alongside her friends and family. 

Shum described the experience as empowering. 

“We want truth, we want justice.” said Shum. “We have this political goal that, you know, economic development is important, but we are like this post-material type of attitude. We want to enjoy our political rights and we want to select our government and we want our government to be accountable for their actions.”

The protests started in June over a proposed bill which would allow local police to extradite people to territories Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with, like China. 

Shum says Hong Kongers saw this as an infringement on their rights. 

The bill was ultimately suspended, but Maggie explained the protests continue because its seen as a way to stand up to China’s growing influence in the city. 

She believes it’s a message people in Michiana can stand behind. 

“I think many countries [do not] have the guts to stand up to China like this,” said Shum. “I think it signals to a lot of other countries, that well, you know if Hong Kong can do it, you should be on our side. If you care about democracy, if you care about democractic development and stuff, you should really think twice about your relationships with China, so I think that’s one powerful signal.” 

Shum believes the movement will continue until one side gives up. 

“It’s quite hard to predict what’s going to happen next,” said Shum. 

While she is happy to see her city demand just, she does worry about the protests imapcts. She thinks this is polarizing Hong Kong into an “Us vs Them” mentality. 

“At first, I’m happy that you know we have people, not only young people, but you know people that are middle age, that are coming out to fight for what they believe, to fight for freedom,” said Shum. “But on the secondhand, it’s really kind of depressing. There have been moments that the government can really stand out and deal with this political problem … but the government missed all their chances to do something.”

Those interested in providing relief to those impacted by the demonstrations can click here

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