Valiant Beauty



by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

Over the last week, Hong Kong has transformed—gone from a city that, while not politically apathetic, was generally willing to put prosperity and business first. But Beijing’s refusal to allow Hong Kong open elections and the growing unease among its residents about the SAR’s future in China have finally come to a head.The Umbrella Revolution has shown that Hong Kong is no longer content to allow Beijing to dictate its fate. The city has decided to stand up and fight. And it has brought umbrellas.

The struggle for free elections is nothing new—the pro-democracy camp has for decades been determined in its efforts to bring self-rule to the city. But something changed this week: the passion and energy of youth. Young people, yellow-ribboned, faces covered with cling film and goggles, and equipped only with umbrellas to fend off the fierce sun, rain and tear gas, have fought peacefully, proudly and insistently, for genuine democracy in their—my—beloved city. It is their efforts—nonviolent but still resolute and resourceful—that have not only captured the attention of the city, but of the world.

Like many people who care about Hong Kong’s political future, I have been able to focus on very little else over the past few days. At times, I have been worried—worried about the safety of the protestors; worried that their efforts will fail to bring change; worried about the future of the city that I love. But I have also been deeply moved and inspired. I have never been so proud of Hong Kong. It has never been so determined.

For those of us who support democratic change, we realise that the time has come, that we have to fight now, before it’s too, too late. We are uncertain of what the outcome might be, but we are nevertheless united, hearts with one purpose, and we are fighting.

Will we succeed? We already have. Hong Kong will never be the same again. A valiant beauty has been born.

Piece crossposted with Asian Cha

About the Author:


Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is a Hong Kong-born writer. She is a founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal and an editor of the London-based Fleeting Magazine and the academic journal Victorian Network. She edited Hong Kong U Writing: An Anthology in 2006 and co-edited Love and Lust in 2008. Her own work has been widely published in print and online and she has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times and the Forward Prize. She is finishing her PhD thesis on Neo-Victorian fiction at King’s College London.