If you a white foreigners and you are eventually traveling in Hong Kong with your iphone or camera, you may probably be asked,
“Are you a spy?”
I don’t know if you have been following the “Hong Kong Umbrella movement“, which was called Hong Kong 2014 protest on Wikipedia (what a name). Indeed it was not very pleasant to see such a large-scaled social movement to break out: Checking social media, worrying about friends and feeling disappointed to “HK puppet political power group” (I refuse to call it as government because it does not govern at all) has become my daily routine. Sad is sad, but thanks God that we have a group of people called “Blue ribbon”, the opponents of the social movement supporters “Yellow Ribboners”. If you know Chinese (if not, please use Google translation), you will find lots of fun just to read the comments from “Blue Ribboners”!
Besides of blindly believing some random screen shots captured from TV drama or photos from the internet have truly happened in the reality (I will explain this to you next time, it is super funny), some of the Blue Ribboners starts to suspect or accuse the “white guys” living in Hong Kong are actually spies spent by the (evil) Western world.
N is one of my good friends who has been living in Hong Kong for quite a while and he manages to speak okay Mandarin and type in traditional Chinese. He used to study political science and that’s why he followed the news of Umbrella movement, which was closely enough to write a series of journals about what was happening the past month. We youngsters love to discuss the movement on the social media a lot, especially on Facebook. Thanks to the horrible settings of Facebook, it is so easy to gain attention from your FB friends whenever you write something on your own wall (that’s okay), or others’ wall (no, I don’t like it).
Once, N published his opinions about the politics of China. Nothing personal, just some technical analysis as usual. All of the sudden, there was one of his FB friends who was from Mainland commented on his statue. Here is his honest (or you call it bold) question:
“Have you been trained to write about this and left so many comments on news about the so called Umbrella Revolution… I just read the news that so many foreigners are trained to do so.“
!!! After reading that, it kept me and my another friend laughing very hard for some time. GOSH! That’s the power of Chinese propaganda news! In my mind, spies are like James Bond who can carry out a lot of dangerous missions or beautiful Russian spies who can capture “important guys” to steal all kind of secret information. Oh my friend N is just a very typical young man who likes to express his point of views on Facebook and blog!
And there is another news about a foreign PHD student who was accused to be a spy:
I still remember I was once kicked out by a pair of Russian couples who worked for Russian National TV stated in Berlin. The reason was, their boss suspected me and my boyfriend were spies. Well, back then I was doing my ENG to CHI translation and my boyfriend was writing a X-box program, that truly alerted their wifi system, which was actually under supervisory control directed from the TV station. We showed them our work and obviously they were scared and did not want to believe us…
This very unique couch-surfing experience in Berlin helped me to understand the extreme communist logic about the internet world: Information can be more dangerous than guns and fire!
On the contrary, back to the FB story, if expressing one own views are considered as a “very unusual behavior” and it should be “trained”, then you may realize how impossible to have freedom of speech in that country, and how “honest” their comments on opposing the movements could be…