Dialogue with Joshua Wong at Humbolt University of Berlin

Dialogue with Joshua Wong at Humbolt University of Berlin

13.09.2019 17:55

By Chaoting Cheng (Freie Universität Berlin)
Sep. 12, 2019

In the evening on September 11, 2019, Joshua Wong gave a speech at Humboldt University in Berlin. As an enthusiast of political science and an observer of the current affairs, I wished to have a close look at this representative figure of the Hong Kong demonstration, so I participated in this event. Since I have learned a lot of different political theories, I know each and every of them has its own rationalities as well as limitations. Therefore, I always try my best to be neutral and objective towards complicated political affairs, and I believe I can tolerate different perspectives and opinions. Of course I expected the leading figures of the demonstration movement in Hong Kong were the similar ones because they claimed they were fighting for democracy and freedom.

Almost all the German mainstream medias were present and have reported this event. There were also a lot of audiences, many of them had no seats and hence sat on the ground. When Wong entered the hall, he was warmly cheered like a hero. He made a speech for roughly ten minutes. Objectively speaking, although his English has a strong Cantonese accent, but quite fluent. He knows how to incite the audiences because he is good at utilizing some brilliant and great rhetorics such as democracy, freedom, human rights, universal values, and so on. Ordinary people could be easily inspired by these passionate words. In fact, all great politicians, whether elected ones or authoritarian dictators, are very good at utilizing lofty ideals and values to motivate their followers. Churchill, Kennedy and Obama are among them, but unfortunately so are Hitler and Stalin.

This event was completely Wong’s homecourt. His speech was full of slogans and made many audiences so excited that they constantly applauded. They probably thought a new hero, who was fearlessly fighting against the formidable regime in Beijing, was emerging, and he is still so young and full of passion.

Originally, I only wanted to take a closer look and didn't plan to ask any question, but several audiences from mainland China did. However, they were ruthlessly booed and heckled by the supporters of Wong. In fact, I did not quite agree with these audiences from mainland China either, and I thought their skills of asking questions should be improved as well. Nonetheless, in any case they have the right to express their own opinions peacefully. It is not in line with the values of democracy and freedom to mock them. This situation motivated me to ask Wong a question to judge his awareness of democracy and freedom, knowledge and competence.

This time Wong came to Berlin, probably because Berlin was the then forefront of the confrontation between the United States and the former Soviet Union during Cold War. He called Hong Kong as "New Berlin" in the "New Cold War", hence he wanted to win the support of "free world". Therefore I asked him the following questions:

"Freedom and democracy are the aspirations of all of us. Therefore, different and minority opinions should be tolerated and respected. If you claim you are fighting for freedom and democracy, then it is easy to convince the people around the world to support the movement in Hong Kong. But if you say Hong Kong is 'New Berlin' in 'New Cold War', then you are actually talking about the geopolitical confrontation between the great powers. I am not sure if you understand what geopolitics means. Even the United States did not openly declare a new cold war against China. Therefore, it is very likely that you are making seven million Hong Kong citizens victims of geopolitical confrontation between great powers. In Europe, Ukraine is a typical example. When Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, the West could do nothing and has done nothing to rescue Ukraine. Geopolitics is a dangerous game. Do you think that your promotion of new ‘cold war’ is a responsible behavior for Hong Kong people?"

Why were the mainland Chinese audiences, who had asked questions earlier and later than me, booed by the supporters of Wong? The first reason is that Wong’s followers had no willingness to tolerate different opinions at all. The second reason, in my opinion, these mainland Chinese were using Chinese narrative to express their opinions, such as “Hong Kong is pursuing independence” and “Hong Kong people rioted due to their worsening economic prospects” and so on. But these arguments are not powerful enough to convince German audiences. In fact, freedom and democracy are indeed the aspiration of all people, including the Chinese people living in mainland China. Even the Chinese Communist Party cannot explicitly oppose the values of freedom and democracy either, they just claim they have a different understanding from the West. But Cold War is an all-round confrontation between the United States and the former Soviet Union in geopolitical, ideological and military terms. In this kind of confrontation Hong Kong is not playing a game, but being played by great powers. Whatever the result is, Hong Kong citizens would pay for serving as proxy of outside great power(s). Wong should understand what “Cold War” really means when he says this word. But unfortunately, the concept of geopolitics is obviously beyond his knowledge reserve.

The atmosphere of the event was completely one-sided, and Wong’s supporters were not willing to tolerate any different opinion or criticism. However, my questions were politically right, reasonable and factual, all the audiences, whoever they are, from Hong Kong or the Germans, failed to find fault with me. Wong did not answer my question directly either. He just responded that he did not expect everyone to agree the narrative of “new cold war". He said, some China experts had mentioned this concept after the Sino-US trade conflict took place, therefore he used it. Then he repeated his appeal to urge Chinese government to fulfill its promise of allowing direct election in Hong Kong. Honestly speaking, Wong is not a knowledgeable person, his strategy is therefore repeatedly talking some gorgeous words like "democracy, freedom and human rights".

Last but not least, I have to mention the following fact:

In order to ask a question, I have raised my hand for four times, but the moderator, a Hong Kong lady, always told me to wait. At the fourth time, she still did not give me the microphone, but gave it to a German audience who just raised his hand for the first time. After I protested that I had raised my hand earlier, she finally gave me the microphone, but very reluctantly. The reason is just because I am a Chinese. This is a typical discrimination and completely contrary to the values of democracy and freedom. Given their actual behavior I have every reason to doubt the likelihood that Wong and his supporters would tolerate and respect different opinions, should they seize power.

  • Erstellt von Chaoting Cheng In der Kategorie Politik政治 am 13.09.2019 17:55:00 Uhr

    zuletzt bearbeitet最后编辑: 23.11.2019 08:54
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