At 7 p.m. on August 23, the Hong Kong people responded to an Internet users’ initiative to build a human chain nearly 40 miles long. The “Hong Kong Way” came to life outside 39 metro stations stretching from east to west and north to south. More than 210,000 people were estimated to have participated, joining hands and holding up cell phones to light up the night sky. At around 9 p.m., the demonstration ended as people gradually dissipated, flowing away like water.
Hongkongers were inspired by the “Baltic Way,” a peaceful demonstration held on August 23 30 years ago in which people from the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — formed a human chain over 400 miles long that connected people across the states. It was a signal to the world that the people were united in their desire for freedom and independence from the Soviet Union. The event helped trigger the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe.
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Similarly, the people of Hong Kong want to show the world that they are united in their desire to preserve the freedom they enjoy and to see their five demands are met. They are asking for full withdrawal of the extradition bill, a commission of inquiry into alleged police brutality, a retraction of the classification of protesters as “rioters,” amnesty for arrested protesters, and dual universal suffrage that would allow the people to choose the members of the city’s Legislative Council as well as the city’s Chief Executive.
Lithuanian lawmaker Mantas Adomenas organized over 100 people in his country to join hands in support of the people of Hong Kong. He said he was impressed by their struggle. “I recognised in them the same spirit that was blowing at the Baltic Way” (South China Morning Post).
More than 1,000 hikers and runners climbed to the top of Lion Rock in order to shine lights across Hong Kong. “It takes time and stamina to climb up Lion Rock, just like the hardships we are going through in this movement,” a civil servant told South China Morning Post.
The citywide demonstration showed the world that Hongkongers won’t be giving up any time soon and sent a clear message to Beijing that the people of Hong Kong will not stand for them going back on their promise of “one country, two systems.”