DESPITE extensive coverage of the continuing protests in Hong Kong against a Beijing-backed extradition Bill, there was one aspect of the demonstration underplayed by the British media. It has emerged that as upwards of two million protesters marched, a Christian worship song filled the streets of Hong Kong.
According to Shanghaiist, an English-language Chinese news site, Sing Hallelujah to the Lord has become the unofficial anthem of the Hong Kong protest movement.
Reporters in Hong Kong have described how the song was the first thing they heard when covering the protests.
According to World, the link between the song and the protests seems to have begun last month on June 11 when Rev Chi Wai Wu, general secretary of Hong Kong Church Renewal Movement, said that a prayer meeting outside the government complex ended with the singing of Sing Hallelujah to the Lord.
The hymn is just one sign of Christians’ influence on the protest. Although unreported in the West, Christian pastors and leaders have been at the forefront of the democracy movement in Hong Kong and have often served as a buffer between other protesters and police. Christians have also taken the lead in providing food and shelter at demonstrations.
The prominence of Christians in the battle against an authoritarian Chinese communist government is understandable. Many Christians have become dissidents due to the government’s attempts to regulate and Sinicise the Christian church.
After 156 years as a British colony Hong Kong returned to Chinese control in 1997. Hong Kong is supposed to be able to govern itself under a policy known as ‘one country, two systems’ until 2047. How Hong Kong will be governed after 2047 is still unclear. Hong Kong’s political and judicial systems may continue to be administered separately or the territory may be completely reintegrated with China.
Chinese communist leaders on the mainland are exerting increasing pressure on the Hong Kong government which is supposedly exclusively in charge of internal affairs. The protests began when Carrie Lam, the pro-Beijing Chief Executive of Hong Kong, proposed a Bill allowing criminal suspects to be extradited to stand trial in China. Protesters in Hong Kong fear the legislation will be used against those facing religious and political persecution.
‘We believe in upholding justice,’ said David Cheung, a pastor who has taken part in protests, as reported by the New York Times. ‘Our faith gives us our courage, confidence and hope against this evil government power.’
Christian leaders have outspokenly criticised the police’s use of force against protesters and Lam’s handling of the extradition Bill protest. Protesters use the language of ‘love thy neighbour’ and ‘good versus evil’, even although only one in nine Hong Kongers is Christian.
Chu Yiu-ming, pastor of Chai Wan Baptist Church in Hong Kong and a pro-democracy advocate, said that the protests are vital to the future of the city. ‘I don’t know how many more times we can still take to the streets and protest like today, but if Hong Kong’s government policy is against the people’s will, we definitely have to resist and fight back,’ he said.