There is a well-known Biblical story. The David versus Goliath battle. Goliath was a giant demon who terrorised people. David was a small shepherd. When nobody dared to call Goliath’s bluf , David killed the mighty giant with his slingshot! An unequal battle? Yes. The mighty won? No. Sometimes, seemingly weak persons or nations humble their all-powerful enemies. We Indians should know. Our half-naked fakir Gandhi made the British Empire bite the dust. The sun never set on the British Empire. But after Gandhi led India to freedom, Britishers fail to see the sun in their cloudy cities! And the rag-tag army of tiny Vietnamese fighters, surviving on plain rice, first drove away the French and then defeated the Americans! Battles and wars are all about the human spirit. Davids regularly defeat Goliaths. And Hong Kong versus Mainland China is the latest example. Hong Kongers fought tooth and nail against a proposed legislation to extradite them to Mainland China for trials and won finally. The proposal now stands withdrawn.
The fire-breathing Chinese dragon has turned its tail.
We all know that Hong Kong was a British Crown Colony till 1997. The British took the territory on a 99-year lease. That lease expired in 1997 and Hong Kong went back to China. But it was accorded a special status, something like Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370. Hong Kong is a capitalist enclave inside the communist China. “One Country, Two Systems” as the Chinese put it.
Hong Kong was one among Asian tigers. Other tigers are South Korea,Taiwan and Singapore. Small countries with booming economies. When I was a kid in Darbhanga, Bihar my American sister brought me several gifts. Wrist watches, sweaters, toys and jackets. And they were not Made in America goods. They were made in Hong Kong! The Asian tiger was roaring in the US markets. So I had a Hong Kong watch on my wrist as I walked on pot-holed, muddy roads in Darbhanga!
In Siliguri, North Bengal there is a huge market of foreign goods. The Hong Kong market. In 1996, I found myself in Siliguri at an Army transit camp. I was an IPS trainee, undergoing Army attachment. The Hong Kong Market was not far. One fine morning, I landed there. But it was total chaos. Like a “machhali bazar” (fish market). Shopkeepers were shouting at the top of their voices. There was much haggling over prices. My ear drums were about to burst. I beat a hasty retreat.
Years later, Bruce Lee movies made me fall in love with Hong Kong. Bruce Lee, the kung fu master, is the most famous Hong Konger. He died young. At 33, from side effects of a pain killer. But Bruce Lee movies are amazing. Yours truly has watched all of them. They bring Hong Kong to your drawing room. Crowded alleyways, street gangs, pork shops, hot noodles, kung fu masters, chopsticks and dragons. An exotic world. From Bruce Lee movies, I graduated to Jackie Chan movies. While Bruce Lee movies are a serious business and Bruce Lee rarely smiles, Jackie Chan films are action-comedies. Jackie Chan is a kung fu master and a clown, rolled into one. And Sammo Hung! I love this fat guy. I have watched his movie ‘The Magnificent Butcher’ dozens of times.
So, I was excited when Hong Kongers filled their streets and challenged Mainland China. The Chinese leaders are quite ruthless. Who can forget the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 when tanks rolled over agitating students in Beijing. Tiananmen Square is to Beijing what Dak Bungalow Chowk is to Patna! The heart of the city.
Hundreds of students were mowed down as a horrified world watched. But Chinese leaders cared little. Now, China is sending Uighur Muslims to camps to “educate” them. The Chinese leader Xi Jinping is the strongest leader in the modern Chinese history. He is the President of China, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission at the same time. He is like a Chinese Emperor. The only difference is that Xi Jinping has neither hundreds of queens nor thousands of concubines! Now Hong Kong has given a bloody nose to this Yellow Emperor!
Now, contrast Hong Kongers with Indians who inhabit the largest democracy. The Indian economy is going to dogs. Recession has set in. But like opium addicts, Indians are in deep slumber. Not a leaf is stirring. Indians are day-dreaming about buying land in Kashmir even when they are losing jobs. India too, like Hong Kong, needs a mass movement. An absolutely peaceful, democratic resistance. Narendra Modi should know that his antics are not going to befool the Aam Aadami anymore!
(Mr. Amitabh Kumar Das is a 1994 batch IPS Officer. His views are personal.)