Wed, Nov 06, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Hong Kong Protests: In a HK tea house Beijing loyalists decry protests


People dine at Kate Lee’s restaurant in Hong Kong on Oct. 26.

Photo: AFP

Serving sweet milk tea and French toast with fermented tofu, Kate Lee’s traditional diner has become a sanctuary for Hong Kongers opposed to youth-led democracy protests sweeping the territory.

On a recent Saturday morning, the restaurant was packed with hungry patrons served by volunteers who have flocked to take orders and bus tables after Lee spoke out in support of the territory’s police force.

“I think they [Beijing] have already given us many, many freedoms in governing us and given us many good policies that have allowed us to prosper,” said Lee, who has become somewhat of a celebrity in Hong Kong’s pro-police camp and feted by Chinese state media.

Hong Kong’s government supporters are known as “blue ribbons,” because the color is associated with the police.

Pro-democracy supporters are dubbed “yellow ribbons.”

After months of huge, frequently violent protests in which millions have hit the streets, recent polling data showed that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) has historic low approval ratings, while a poll last month showed that two-thirds of Hong Kongers are dissatisfied with the government.

However, loyalists do exist — from die-hard nationalists repeating Beijing’s fiery denunciations to more moderate types who favor stability over the political chaos of the plast five months.

Lee, 51, said she did not follow politics closely, but she disagreed with the violent methods used by more hardcore protesters.

“I want to ask them: Do you really have no freedom in Hong Kong right now? Can you really not say the words ‘rehabilitate June 4th’ in Hong Kong? Is that something you can say loudly in the mainland in Tiananmen square?” she said, referring to calls to vindicate victims of Beijing’s 1989 bloody crackdown.


Beijing portrays the protests as a separatist movement backed by foreign “black hands,” primarily aiming their ire at the US and Britain. They have provided little evidence beyond supportive statements from some Western politicians. Still, the idea that Hong Kong’s protests are foreign-funded and not a popular revolt permeates the blue ribbon camp.

“There’s no need for universal suffrage,” said Erica, an art teacher in her late 20s who was volunteering as a waitress. “We should ask why they want to fight for universal suffrage in the first place, everybody knows it’s the Americans telling them to do that.”

Others reporters spoke to said they supported greater democracy in Hong Kong, but they felt improvements needed to be made gradually, fearing a backlash from authoritarian China if protesters push too hard.

Fong Fong, 60, told her son after he attended anti-government protests that she would turn him in to the authorities if she ever caught him rioting, a comment she said prompted the 28-year-old to bang his head against the wall in frustration.

“I told him: ‘If you are a rioter and you got hit by police, then you deserve it,’” she said.

She said she valued stability and livelihood over high-minded ideals, saying the ongoing unrest infringes on the rights of those who want to go about their daily lives without disruption.

“I think we should have democracy, but you have to achieve universal suffrage step by step. You can’t reach heaven in one step,” she added.

Many younger protesters counter that the failure of older generations to push back against Beijing eroding Hong Kong’s freedoms is what has resulted in this summer’s rallies.

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