Being an adoptive parent of an international child, I have an understanding as well as at least some experience understanding the culture of the country where my daughters come from. During my first trip to China, I learned first hand, the many misconceptions that I had about the country, and learned some new things as well.
Knowing that I would be travelling out of the country, I notified the bank of the credit card that I would be using for the trip, that purchases would indeed be showing up, in person, outside of the US, during a certain time period. At that point, I thought I had taken care of everything. I was ready to go.
To match my enthusiasm, I received good news from the adoption agency, that the trip was being moved up three days earlier. I definitely had no problem becoming a Dad officially sooner.
We landed at the Hong Kong airport and were met by our guide for this brief leg of the trip before heading to mainland China. We made our way to the hotel at the airport to get as good a night sleep as we could. More good news. Instead of meeting our children two days later, we were going to fly into mainland China, check in to the hotel, and then proceed right away to meet our children. It is impossible to describe the excitement.
I got to enjoy that excitement approximately ten minutes. As it was my turn to check in to the hotel, and handed over my credit card to secure my room, the attendant behind the counter responded, “card declined.” Not sure what I had heard, I just automatically told him to “try it again.” His response was the same. Panicked, because I had taken care of everything to make sure the card worked before I left, I demanded “try again.” The third time was not the charm, as it was declined again. Long story short, eventually after 3 stressful days, the confusion would be straightened out, but for the purposes of this post, that is a different story.
It was at that time that I learned about Hong Kong, a former property of Brittain, that although Hong Kong is considered a “free” country, it is also part of China. The expression goes, “one country, two systems.” Obviously, the one system being a democratic free society even with its own currency, the other Communist. Yes, people, Communism still exists though today the word “dictatorship” is more commonly used. Either way, Hong Kong is considered part of China.
What I had cleared with my credit card company, was that I would be travelling to China on a certain date. But remember, I traveled three days earlier than I was scheduled, and unknowing to the fact, that Hong Kong would be considered separate from China. Two different facts than I had presented to my credit card bank. And it made a difference as the bank killed my credit card after trying to check into the hotel.
That is why, when I overheard the news about protests at the Hong Kong airport, and many countries issuing warnings about travel to Hong Kong, I wanted to find out more what was happening. And though Hong Kong is on the other side of the world, the events occurring right now should be of concern to Americans. Because the people of Hong Kong are fighting for one thing and one thing only, their freedom.
For the most part, protesters have been peaceful, just numerous in size and gathering. Admittedly, there have been reports of some clashing between authorities, and at least five deaths recorded (all suicides).
As I said, Hong Kong, while part of Communist China, is considered a “free country”. The issue at hand, is that China wants to issue an extradition policy that would result in offenders in Hong Kong, being extradited to mainland China to face their charges. Again, China is Communist, and their courts and punishments are often at the center of human right violations. And this is what the people of Hong Kong are fighting to prevent.
I am sure that there have been other issues between Hong Kong and China, but this is one that is grabbing international headlines. Given China’s size and power, it is likely that the policy will be instituted, which will only be another chip away at the democracy that the people of Hong Kong have been enjoying for so long.
I have so many happy memories of Hong Kong. And having been through the airport, I have a crystal clear image of the chaos and crowds now filling the airport. The islands of Hong Kong, yes, they are islands, are beautiful with the architecturally unique skyscrapers, peaceful temples and statues, all the while an excitement of many other big cities.
I hope that this current crisis in Hong Kong gets resolved, and resolved as peacefully as possible. But as the people of Hong Kong will tell you, freedom is worth fighting for.