HK Protesters In Germany Debate With Quadrilingual Woman On Police Brutality & ‘One China’

As protests in Hong Kong continue to escalate, citizens residing in other countries have joined the efforts.

A video trending on Weibo since 6 Nov, however, is an interesting look at how China’s citizens view the conflict, versus the narrative that Hong Kong’s protesters believe.

You can watch the edited video by CGTN here, or her original post on Weibo in full.

We summarise the contents below, for a clearer picture on why the conflict will continue if both nations remain divided over rhetoric.

Woman reasons with HK protesters in Germany

The video kicks off with Ms Ya Lun, dressed in black, addressing a crowd of Hong Kong (HK) protesters gathered in Germany, who wish to seek “a revolution” back home.

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Concerned that violence isn’t the answer, she questions what methods they’ll use to accomplish this,

A revolution, By what? By destroying the city? By setting fire to the metro station? By stabbing police in the neck?

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Her questions are ignored by most of them, who continue chanting “One Country, Two Systems”.

“China is strong because we are united”

A female protester asks Ya Lun why she’s in Germany instead of going “back to China”.

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Ms Ya Lun claims she can “afford this life in Germany” because China has remained “solid and united for the last 2,000 years”.

Protesters ask if “that’s true” and if she has studied “Chinese history”. Ya Lun continues,

We are strong, and we are growing, and we are threatening the world, because we stay united.

Someone questions Ms Ya Lun’s loyalty. If she’s proud of China, why doesn’t she speak her language?

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Ms Ya Lun then asserts, in Chinese,

China has always been ‘One China’.
(中国从来都是一个中国.)

Peace or oppression?

The conversation swiftly turns to the use of violence by both protesters and the authorities.

Ya Lun asks emphatically if they’ve begun using violence in their protests — later citing the case of a 60-year-old taxi driver getting mobbed by a crowd.

A male protester clarifies that initial protests in June were peaceful, until police began “using violence first”, explaining why they retaliated.

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According to him, police have used “more tear gas” collectively in recent clashes than all of 2014’s pro-democracy protests combined.

Ms Ya Lun then declares in Chinese,

But we don’t stop people from going to work in a peaceful age, or stop others from having the life that they want.

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Protesters counter that what appears like “peace” to others, has always felt like “oppression” to them.

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4.5 month-protest’s impact on tourism & HK’s economy

On the impact of continued protests on Hong Kong’s economy, Ya Lun observes that the once peaceful city has transformed into “one of the most dangerous” places in the world.

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The crowd promptly brushes aside her concerns about tourist fears. Ya Lun asks if they know how important tourism is to Hong Kong’s economy.

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The masked male protester acknowledges that it’s ranked “first or second”, before Ya Lu counters in Chinese,

If it’s ranked first, doesn’t having tourists visit matter to Hong Kong?

Hong Kong’s not recognised as a country

Ya Lun launches into a short monologue about how “Hong Kong’s freshwater is supplied by Shenzhen”, and that Hong Kong isn’t “recognised as a country anywhere in the world”.

As a result, she cannot comprehend why they would “sabotage (their) city in a peaceful age”.

A bespectacled protester deflects the question by saying it’s “none of her business”. Others agree, shouting that Hong Kong’s their “country” and “city”, not hers.

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Ya Lun later reveals that she was born in Shenzhen, and had travelled to Hong Kong frequently when she was based in China.

Tries to speak Cantonese, but is told to switch to English

She then attempts to speak in Cantonese, to address the matter of “fire bombs” thrown within the city.

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She’s told by protesters to switch back to English, which she’s more fluent in.

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Lady speaks to crowd in German

As the crowd sings a Cantonese song in protest, Ms Ya Lun begins speaking in German.

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She asks emphatically,

What are you doing? You ruin your city, then blame China for it.
(Was macht ihr da? Ihr runiniert eure Stadt und dann gebt ihr China die Schuld.)

A female protester directs a question to her in English, asking why she’s “so angry” about what they’re doing.

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Ya Lun explains in English,

Because you’re trying to split my country.

The argument dies down after that, as protesters continue chanting their slogans.

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Ya Lun, sensing that she wasn’t getting through to them, ends the video by saying in Mandarin,

China will always be ‘One China’. No matter how you shout, you won’t change the fact that Hong Kong belongs to China. No matter how many fires you set, how many people you beat up, this fact won’t change.

Hong Kong will always belong to China.

No matter where you stand, violence is never the answer

We think that arguments for both sides – Hong Kong’s citizens’ plight versus China’s rhetoric – are succinctly encapsulated in this viral exchange.

Vandalism cases involving Singaporean companies, like DBS’ branch or a hypermall owned by Mapletree, may be clear signs that violence is quickly escalating beyond state control.

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In the continuous fight for freedom, one must ask if the sacrifices Hong Kong’s citizens have already made, will be worth it.

Sadly, both nations won’t be able to resolve their conflicts anytime soon, if no one’s prepared to listen.

Featured image adapted from Weibo.