CHRONICLE: "Hong Kong's air was much better than air in Beijing"
I used to go to Hong Kong often when I lived in Beijing. I took the night train between Beijing and Hong Kong, it took about a day, and when I arrived it always felt like getting a breather. Some things that were difficult in Beijing were easier in Hong Kong - getting around the city, getting a residence permit, finding things I wanted to buy and reading magazines I wanted to read. Breathe. Hong Kong's air was much better than the air in Beijing.
Once, when I arrived in Hong Kong, I was shocked to see what was on a young guy's t-shirt.
In Beijing, t-shirts with the English text "I love China more than ever" had started to appear more and more. And always in connection with China's negative international publicity. It's a nationalist slogan, and it was at that time that the Nobel Peace Prize had gone to Liu Xiaobo, I think.
But the Hong Kong boy's white t-shirt said he loved a luxury brand instead: "I love LV more than ever". It was a cock against the nationalist mood in mainland China. He drove with the indignant nationalist chauvinism on the mainland, and perhaps wanted to signal that he stood for something completely different. The message responds well to the image of Hong Kong: apolitical, consumption oriented and luxurious."The cousin from the country"
Today, the messages on Hong Kong's streets are less easy to read. Opposition to mainland China is far heavier, and clearly political.
In the Mongkok district of Hong Kong, young people pass by me and SVT photographer Per Leandersson, scanning the slogans: "revolution in our time" and "eye for eye". The latter refers to the girl who got rid of an eye when she was hit by a projectile during a recent demonstration.
The image that people in Hong Kong do not care about politics, but mostly want to make money, has become dated.
In Hong Kong, there is also an old picture of mainland China: the cousins from the country, poor, uncivilized and without style.Changing times
In 1995, Hong Kong director Stephen Chow made a film dealing with Mainland China. It's called "Made in China 007", a comedy. Agent 007 works as a butcher in Beijing and goes around in bare torso and an apron in gallons. The film's idea is based on the fact that everything that has been done in China is crap, roughly.
In one scene, Agent 007 should get equipment of his equivalent to Q. Nothing works, and if it works then it is useless. For example, he gets a shaver that he can use as a hair dryer, and a hair dryer that he can use as a shaver. And he gets a bulky portfolio with four legs in - it can become a pallet.
But that time is also over. Chinese on the mainland make money, produce things that work and consume at least as much luxury as Hong Kong Chinese.Hong Kong residents constantly monitored
The cousins from the country above all have a much better view. When we are going to interview a young woman who participated in the protests from the beginning, we have to do it at the hotel, masked with a mouthguard and a cap that shimmers her eyes. Because in Hong Kong, the surveillance cameras see everything. If anything, the mainland is rather big brother.
Before she goes to the protest, she even turns in and out of her clothes, because she does not want any logs on the clothes, she wants to be as anonymous as possible.