British Columbia

'Uncertainty' and 'fear': Vancouver resident on why she has not returned to Hong Kong

Hundreds of thousands of people marched through Hong Kong Sunday to voice opposition to government-sponsored legislation that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China to face charges.

'For many Hong Kong people the mistrust and fear of Beijing was very deep-seated'

Ivy Li, speaking on behalf of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong (CFHK), on June 9 at the Vancouver rally against Hong Kong's amendment to its extradition laws. The rally was held outside the Chinese consulate. (Submitted by Ivy Li)

Hundreds of thousands of people marched through Hong Kong Sunday to voice opposition to government-sponsored legislation that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China to face charges.

Lawmakers in Hong Kong are expected to debate the controversial bill on Wednesday.

Ivy Li moved from Hong Kong to Canada 36 years ago and is worried the bill will pass. She participated in solidarity in protests on Sunday outside the Chinese consulate in Vancouver.

Many families in Hong Kong originally moved there to flee the Communist Party when it took over China in 1949, says Li.

"They heard about the horror of the Cultural Revolution from friends and relatives who were still in China at that time. So, for many Hong Kong people, the mistrust and fear of Beijing was very deep-seated," Li told Stephen Quinn, host of The Early Edition.

1 country, 2 systems

Hong Kong was guaranteed the right to retain its own social, legal and political systems for 50 years following its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997, the so-called "one country, two systems" framework.

"Many Hong Kongers were still worried but also hopeful that at least there would be 50 years," said Li.

However, China's ruling Communist Party has been seen as increasingly reneging on that agreement by forcing through unpopular legal changes.

In Vancouver, hundreds of protestors gathered Sunday morning, June 9, outside the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in solidarity with Hong Kong. (CBC)

When the Tiananmen Square Massacre happened in 1989, people in Hong Kong were horrified, says Li. The massacre occurred when Chinese troops fired on democratic demonstrators and those attempting to block the military's advance into the square in Beijing.  

"They were terrified by the brutality and they worry that they will lose their way of life, especially freedom of speech ... Then, in 1997 when Hong Kong was handed over to Beijing, the fear became more real."

Immigrations to Canada

The Tiananmen Square Massacre and the Hong Kong handover caused two large immigration waves to Canada. 

Li originally moved to the U.S. to study before moving to Canada. She decided it was safer to not return to Hong Kong.

"I'm very, very worried about losing my freedom. And then also the worry about all the civil liberties I enjoyed under the British rule. The uncertainty about what would happen to Hong Kong is very frightening for most Hong Kong people."

If the extradition bill passes, it means Hong Kong will be one country, one system, says Li.

"The major difference between Hong Kong and mainland China is the rule of law. And in China, we know that is arbitrary ... all the laws that are in the Constitution were basically ineffective because it depends on what the government wants at all times."

Listen to the full story here:

With files by The Early Edition


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?