How Hong Kong’s Unrest Is Spilling Onto N.Y. Campuses – The New York Times

A vast majority of Chinese students consume their news via WeChat, a popular messaging platform in China that the government censors and surveils — so much so that some have said their accounts were shut down for sharing information about the protests.

But by living in the West, students from mainland China are exposed to media that present a different side of the story. Some say they’re trying to make sense of the conflict, now that many of them are experiencing pro-democracy points of view for the first time.

“I feel it’s very difficult to tell which is right or wrong, which is truth or which is not,” said Judy, a mainlander student at Columbia, who spoke on the condition that her last name not be used. Fighting for democracy, she explained, continued to be an opaque concept for her.

This line of thinking strikes at the core of the conflict. Hong Kongers grew up with the notions of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech; ideas and experiences that are not promoted in mainland China.

And whereas some Hong Kongers were once accepting of being called “Chinese,” they said it’s different now. They want to distinguish themselves.

Cheryl, 19, a Hong Konger who studies at New York University, and who asked that her last name not be used, said being called Chinese means something very different than it did just four months ago. Now, when people describe her as Chinese, Cheryl said, she feels “misrepresented,” and she corrects them.


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