The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have another dimension… “there is an undercurrent of another, much older tension: Between Christianity and Communist China.”
While the protests are specifically for democratic elections in Hong Kong, some see a broader struggle to protect that culture from China’s communist government as it increases its influence on the city. Christianity has been a visible element of the demonstrations, with prayer groups, crosses, and protesters reading Bibles in the street.
On the other side, some of Hong Kong’s top government officials and business leaders are also Christian, including No. 2 official Carrie Lam and former Chief Executive Donald Tsang, who are Catholic.
The fight for democracy is “a question of the whole culture, the whole way of living, in this our city,” said Cardinal Joseph Zen, who retired as head of Hong Kong’s Catholic flock in 2009.
Beijing’s influence through Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying “brings to Hong Kong the whole culture which is now reigning in China, a culture of falsity, of dishonesty, a lack of spiritual values,” said Cardinal Zen, sitting in the cool interior of a church seminary. “We can see that it is coming, so we have to resist.”
Some see the gap between Christians and the Chinese government as unbridgeable. “Christians, by definition, don’t trust the communists. The communists suppress Christians wherever they are,” said Joseph Cheng, a political-science professor at City University of Hong Kong and a supporter of the protesters.