As protests in Hong Kong continue past the five-month mark, online support for the city’s pro-democracy movement has continued to pour in from various corners of mainland China despite efforts by government censors to block all references to the political crisis. A Cantonese version of Les Miserables’ “Do You Hear the People Sing?”, performed by a group of Hong Kong students and posted on YouTube, has attracted an outpouring of supportive comments from self-identified mainland Chinese users. The song, which has become the unofficial anthem of protesters in Hong Kong, has been taken down from all major music platforms in mainland China.
The following are translations of select comments and words of encouragement left by Chinese users who circumvented the Great Firewall to view the censored music video. These comments were curated by CDT Chinese and translated by Yakexi:
Shuxiao Wang: Hang in there. Sending you support from the mainland. Please forgive me for not being able to support you in a tangible way. Please forgive most of us for not knowing the truth, or for lacking the courage. If you see vile comments and unkind words on mainland Chinese social media, please forgive them!
Frederick Insights: Hang in there, Hong Kong. There are many mainlanders who support you, it’s just that most of us are silenced. Please don’t mind those Boxers who hopped over the GFW to give you trouble, they are just products of ideological indoctrination. Civil rights, liberty, and the rule of law are invaluable. Please hold up!
village zhang: It’s such an irony, this song is banned in the mainland. They sure are afraid of the people. They are afraid of the free and the brave.
江沉 (JiāngChén): Hang in there, Hong Kong! Sending you support from the mainland. Forgive us for not being able to speak up. Forgive us for not being able to learn the truth from official channels. Forgive us for staying silent because that’s all we can do. The conscientious mainlanders are standing together with you!
Ada Zhong: Hang in there, Hong Kong! I’m outside the GFW now and I see many truths. It’s the first time in my life that my heart is so close to Hong Kong. I am moved by Hong Kong! Hang in there, Hong Kong! I salute HK warriors! Thank you for fighting for all of us Chinese people!
Self Liberate: I understand Hong Kong. I refuse to stand with evil. I’ve seen through the mainlanders’ level of understanding and their values, now leaving here is my only way out. Hong Kongers, please take care. I will remember the kind deeds you did for the mainland. I will remember each and every step of your pursuit of human civilization. No matter what, please live with hope. Fight, or leave.
Huang LiJi: Supporting Hong Kong from Guangxi via VPN!
Jessica W: I’m from the mainland. I just got a YouTube account. There are many mainlanders watching and supporting you in silence. Please hang in there!
Hailey: From Zhuhai, close to Hong Kong and Macau! After June 9, I turned from a “blue ribbon” to a “yellow ribbon.” I woke up from the “no CCP, no new China” indoctrination. I now understand what brainwashing is. Hong Kong people are in solidarity. Please hang in there!
Eirca Huo: Hang in there, Hong Kong. Perhaps many mainlanders like HK for its shopping and entertainment, but I like you guys because of your liberty. You can commemorate June 4th. You have many books that cannot be published in the mainland. What’s more important is that, from time to time, Hong Kongers show a great sense of love for their land and the courage to fight for freedom and justice. When I first heard some of the songs made for June 4, I realized that music could express our beliefs and values in such an emotional way. And the culture of Hong Kong is not only the pop music and films that we can still listen to and watch. Thank you, Hong Kong.
刘晨 (LiúChén): I am a high school student in mainland China. Hong Kong, hang in there. Those who are fighting for your rights, hang in there. A country can only be united when its people stand in solidarity.
zhangye fan: This song was banned yesterday, plain and simple. I wanted to listen to it again specifically because it was banned. That’s how I stumbled upon your version. Hang in there.
G Fujinshi: When the Tiananmen Incident happened, Hong Kong stood with the pro-democracy movement in the mainland. Then there was Operation Yellowbird. And every year the June 4th gathering at the Victoria Park serves as a miniature version of Hong Kongers’ support for the fight in the mainland. Today, as someone who grew up right next to Tiananmen Square and living overseas, all I can do is to leave this comment and say “hang in there, Hong Kong!” Even the smallest favor should be returned with utmost gratitude. I’m ashamed this is all I can do.
MIKE MIKE: Hang in there! I am from Inner Mongolia, mainland China. I support Hong Kongers’ fight against the evil extradition bill. I respect the frontline democracy fighters with all my heart.
二十一世紀青年 (ÈrshíyīShìjìQīngnián): I am from Chengdu. Hang in there, Hong Kong!
eo L: Hang in there, Hong Kong! Sending support from Guangdong.
Fiamma Sun: This made me cry. The only place in the country where humanity still shines. What Hong Kong is experiencing breaks my heart. I want to say sorry to you. Across from the Shenzhen River, I’m sending you support! Please do not fall!
CS tudent: I hopped over the GFW to read about the ins and outs of what happened. This is how I understand how the official mouthpiece cherry-picked their stories and reversed right and wrong. It makes me sick! There’s nothing I can do. There’s nothing I can say but this: please hang in there, please persist.
zs z: No matter how badly the rain pours on it, the flower of freedom will still blossom. Hang in there, Hong Kong! [Chinese]
At Change.org, a group of individuals from mainland China penned an open thank-you letter to the people of Hong Kong, in which they expressed their gratitude to those in the city who are fighting for their collective freedom. CDT has translated the original letter:
We are a group of mainlanders who have been educated and raised in the mainland. Since the launch of the first anti-extradition rallies on March 31, we have been closely watching the development of events in Hong Kong. We deeply admire your courage and persistence, and feel sad for the price you are forced to pay. At the same time, as a mainlander, I want to say thank you for everything you have done! Thank you–what you have done is not only fight for your freedom, but also for our freedom.
The Chinese Communist Party has ruled China for a full 70 years. In the past 70 years, rounds of political movements have brutally destroyed the audacity of this nation. Today, no one dares speak out in an atmosphere of political oppression, while those of low moral status hold power. There is not a word of truth in the entire country, moreover there is no freedom. As mainlanders, we cannot see hope. We cannot even divulge the grief and pain in our hearts. However, your presence has given us hope, has allowed us to see that there is still hope in at least one place in this dark land. What is even more valuable is that you have let us see our long-lost audacity, courage and integrity, and the character of civil disobedience. You face tyranny like the towering Lion Rock, never bowing.
Thirty years ago, when Beijing fell into crisis, you gave us the strongest of support. Thirty years later, when you need support, you get the incomprehension and cynicism of the mainland. As mainlanders, we are ashamed of it. However, we want you to know that there exists a group of mainlanders who support you. They also long for a society of judicial independence, social fairness, democracy, and freedom. They also long for the light of modern civilization to shine on every mainlander. They know that the Hong Kong people are not only fighting for their own freedom, but also fighting for the freedom of those on the mainland.
It is a pity that as mainlanders, we cannot stand with you in your fight for freedom. We don’t even dare to say our name and stand up and support you. Please forgive our weakness, but we hope that you know that you are not alone. There is a group of mainlanders who have your back and are rallying for you.
Finally, we hope that you will take care and keep safe.
–A group of mainlanders
September 1 [Chinese]
After violence broke out this week on the campuses of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the City University of Hong Kong, Chinese university students from across the globe launched a virtual campaign to show online support for students in Hong Kong. Modeled after the physical Lennon Walls that have been popping up in Hong Kong and elsewhere, these students are showing solidarity by displaying their student ID cards and diplomas alongside handwritten messages of support to the Hong Kong universities that are under siege. Many of these students, especially those based in China, are risking their own safety to voice their support. In order to prevent being identified by authorities, many have written their messages using their non-dominant hand. According to a letter posted online, mainland exchange students studying in Hong Kong are being forcibly evacuated by the Chinese government.
Elsewhere, in answer to the question of “what are you most proud of as a mainlander?”, an author at Matters News reflects on the systemic forces that have shaped the worldview of certain segments of the Chinese population, and calls for those from the mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong to come together to communicate and understand one another without prejudice:
“If I were to introduce mainland China to someone from Taiwan or Hong Kong, what would be the thing that I am most proud of about the mainland?”
I have thought of a lot of possible answers in my head, but none of them satisfy me. Regardless of ideology, just mentioning economic and social “achievements” such as rapid economic growth, express e-commerce shipping, and convenient mobile payment, makes it difficult to ignore the set of superpower logic and systemic exploitation that exist behind the “miracle” that we see.
I once discussed this topic with a friend. I really like the answer that she gave. She said: “One thing that I am proud about the mainland is the fact that, despite being under such a powerful authoritarian system, there are still many people who are serving civil society and have independent thinking abilities.”[…] Every time I browse the internet and saw friends from Hong Kong or Taiwan express their political opposition to the mainland, I become very restless. On the one hand, I know that they are telling the truth. On the other hand, I want to tell them that this is the view point of only part of the population. Of course, maybe it is the viewpoint of quite a few people, but not everyone. Instead of repeating the stereotypes of Chinese people over and over again and creating more hostility, it is better to think about this issue together, and ask why some mainlanders are the way they are. Only by really understanding the cause can we change what really oppresses us all. […] Although I have not yet figured out how I identify with my nation, I will make it my responsibility to cleanse the label of what it means to be Chinese. Not because I identify with this label, but because I believe that it is unjust to be biased against any one group, and that it is unfair to use stereotypes to generalize each individual within that group. This era has already been torn apart enough. I want to find a way to cast aside prejudice and to have conversations with all regardless of whether we share the same viewpoint.
This is what I think: that it is the responsibility of everyone born in this era to think independently. [Chinese]