From movies, fashions to pop music, mainland Chinese have for decades taken cues from their more affluent and cosmopolitan Hong Kong cousins. A new editorial in the Asian Wall Street Journal suggested that the Chinese may now be able to copy another formerly unlikely trend in their fast changing society: civil liberty.
The editorial bashed the Chinese government for “a great leap backward” in a string of concerted efforts leading to recent clamping down on Internet forums and rounding up of more Internet essayists publishing politically-sensitive articles. The editorial, however, noticed that long jail terms didn’t deter an increasing number of people, who not only joined the online petition for more freedom of speech but also disclosed their true names. The reason might be that these Chinese have learned the lesson from the 50-million people in the streets of Hong Kong who helped stave off an otherwise irrevocable erosion of civil rights in the former British colony. “The more we talk about it (the sensitive topics or terms), the less sensitive it becomes, and the safer we are, as the government gets more used to it,” according to the writing of online satirist Stainless Steel Mouse, who was recently released after more than a year in jail. Her release was seen as a victory for thousands of people, who signed an online petition to free her. She has now joined another online chorus for the release of two compatriots who are now in the same predicament.