Hong Kong journalist Frances Hui, 21, has been an active participant in grassroots social movements since her high-school days, but recently left the city of her birth amid a crackdown on peaceful dissent and political opposition under a draconian national security law imposed on the city by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from July 1, 2020.
She spoke to RFA’s Cantonese Service about what it was like to go into self-imposed exile.
“Right up until just before I left, I kept thinking about changing my ticket. I was still thinking about this a few hours before my departure, and I very nearly did change. I’m so glad I didn’t, though, because something bad could have happened to me.
Instead, she announced her self-exile on her Facebook page on Dec. 17, 2020.
A veteran activist who founded the We the Hongkongers campaign group in support of recent protest movements while studying in the U.S., Hui is still unsure what to do next.
Like many fellow protesters, she is having trouble reconciling her previous existence as a Hong Kong schoolgirl involved in political movmeents and her life today.
“Everyone in Hong Kong is really frustrated right now,” she said. “Nobody feels that they can go on [with the protest movement.”
“When the movement begins to wane, many people could just return to the way things were before,” she said.
Hui fears that if the momentum goes out of the protest movement and political opposition in Hong Kong, there will be less focus on the city’s plight on Capitol Hill.
“Back when the national security law was in the pipeline, we had little choice but to keep going.”
But still hopes to do her part on the protest movement’s “international front,” now that she is overseas.
“For me, as I have said before, leaving also confers responsibility, and if I carry on like this, I won’t be able to achieve anything,” Hui said, in a reference to the sense of disorientation and demotivation she has experienced since leaving.
“I clearly have some political capital, so why can’t I make good use of it?”
Meanwhile, second-generation Hong Kong American Joyce Ho, 18, says she is hoping to build on momentum from her meeting with then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in December 2020, during which she spoke in favor of strong support from Washington for Hong Kong dissidents and protesters.
“Pompeo told me that he was deeply inspired by the people of Hong Kong and that we had achieved a huge amount in the past couple of years, and that the world wouldn’t turn a blind eye,” Ho told RFA.
Ho said she had been on a number of protest marches in support of the Hong Kong protest movement.
“Back then I would be going to about one protest a month, but people told me not to do that during the pandemic,” she said. “So I asked people to make video clips [showing their support] instead.”
“There were a lot of responses, and people sent clips from all round the world, including the U.S. and the U.K. showing support for Hong Kong,” Ho said.
“If I were to turn away from this, I wouldn’t be able to face myself.”
Reported by Carmen Wu for RFA’s Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.