Hong Kong’s ‘silent majority’ critical of protests

Published 10:14 am Wednesday, October 8, 2014

HONG KONG — When Beijing cracked down on student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989, Bobby Yim was among many in Hong Kong who sympathized with the demonstrators and angrily denounced the Chinese government. But 25 years later, his views on China have changed — and he couldn’t muster any support for the students now clamoring for democratic reforms in his own city.

“Yes, the Chinese government was wrong then. But we were very emotional. Looking back, if the students had won, would China be where it is now?” said Yim, a retired insurance manager out for a stroll at a mall in Taikoo Place, a few subway stops from the main protest site. Yet there was almost no sign here of the turmoil that has rocked Hong Kong.

“The kids occupying the streets now are dragging the whole society down. I think the economy and people’s livelihoods are more important that what they are asking for,” he added. “I tolerate them, but only to a certain degree.”

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Yim’s views are echoed by many of the older generation in this city of 7 million, which has been deeply divided over Hong Kong’s student-led pro-democracy protests pushing for a greater say in choosing the city’s leader.