While I went to study commons on the morning of November 9th, most students from Hong Kong University were staring at their laptops, keeping track of U.S election live streaming. The election was a hot topic among students on that day, especially after the shocking results. A friend of mine stared at her phone for the whole morning and cupped her chin as the map of U.S turned red for winning the most ballots. People talked about election in cafeterias, in class and on social media.
The question is, why do students in Hong Kong care so much about the election result? Why does political situation in one country matters so much to students from a culturally and linguistically different place?
Direct Impact on Future Opportunities
Hong Kong as a global city in Asia attracts people from different countries to seek for better opportunities. The prosperous economic development makes the its universities diverse and open to different opinions. However, the rationale of seeking opportunities has also tied university students with U.S.
U.S has been a popular place for exchange studies and internship for Hong Kong students. The fact that Trump’s presidency could impact the issue of J-1visas due to conservative policies make students worry about their chances to go abroad.
Another reaction from students to the election result is fear. Most people agree that Clinton is not a proper choice as president for the scandals she is involved. However, the victory of Trump sheds lights to the conceivable social issues in U.S. Trump’s remarks are racial and gender discrimination. The fact that people voted for him despite his flawed character and statements could suggest that the society is still composed of inequality. It occurs to students in Hong Kong that the image of U.S becoming more acceptance to different ethnicities could just be a flawless image built by mainstream media throughout the years.
Trump’s Victory as Compared to Asian Political Chaos
International students from different Asian countries are a significant population besides Hong Kong local students at Hong Kong University. However, recently there is one thing that brings them closer to U.S election- political turmoil. The uncertainty and chaos in this election is somehow related to the political disturbance in Asia.
Since the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong calling for universal suffrage, the most massive protest ever in Hong Kong history gives rise to the tension between Hong Kong and China. After the hand-over from England, Hong Kong has been facing struggles both culturally and politically against China. Political situation has been tense thought the years in Hong Kong, and the election result shows that the west-which has a long established history of democracy, could also fall under the same predicaments.
Referring to Korea, protests stirred up Seoul for the second consecutive week as hundreds of thousands of angry citizens took to the streets calling for resignation of their President Park Geun-hye. It was dubbed the shame of Korea as allegations about the president letting a friend meddle state affairs spread. The president is also reported to involve in cult. The distress of South Koreans also becomes a shock to other countries as such incident never occur in South Korea before.
Both the east and west are encountering massive political changes, and people’s anger and fear arose from disturbance. The election in U.S becomes more significant to students in Hong Kong giving concern to the unstable politics in Asia.
Downfall of Democracy- Does It Matter?
The election sparks discussion but at the same time becomes a dinner conversation for Hong Kong students. Chinese media and local newspapers are filled with analysis of Trump winning the election and prediction of how it may influence global economy and politics. Contradictory, sarcastic taglines and caricature are widely shared on social media. One picture ironically shows that five directions, namely central, north, south, east and west are now under totalitarian rule. They respectively present Chinese president Xi Jingpin, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Duterte in Phillipines, Putin in Russia and now Trump in U.S.
Although many express concern towards the election, others would view it as way to mock current affairs. The result of the election somehow becomes a demonstration to the other side of the world that democracy contains many problems, and it cannot truly represent what people value. While everyone is still trying to comprehend Trump’s victory, it is true that the topic will remain in mainstream media in Hong Kong for a while.
Whether we choose to pay attention to the news or not, we are bombarded with fellow up reports regarding the election in local and foreign media. This election has become an unusual phenomenon that draws people’s attention more than ever. Hong Kong, which is the intersection between east and west, has also been embroiled in it.