Hongkongers split over the US presidential election

Tens+of+thousands+of+protesters+waving+US+flags+marched+on+Hong+Kong%27s+US+Consulate+to+call+for+help+from+Trump.++Featured+Photo+by+Joseph+Chan.

Joseph Chan

Tens of thousands of protesters waving US flags marched on Hong Kong’s US Consulate to call for help from Trump. Featured Photo by Joseph Chan.

Lausky Liu

Hongkongers, especially those in Generation Z, are wondering — and are worried — about how the victory by President-elect Joe Biden will affect their future. 

Young adults in Hong Kong believe the new president will have a great impact on their future, at a time when the situation between Hong Kong and China is tense and Honkongers are worried their relative independence will be crushed by the mainland. 

Many Hongkongers felt they could count on President Trump’s support against the policies of mainland China. They are not as sure about Biden. A Newsweek poll in July found that 36% of Hongkongers preferred Trump, while 33% were for Biden and 31% did not know.

At the same time, it’s clear that disinformation about voter fraud impacting the presidential election, as well as misinformation about Biden’s family dealings in China have had an effect. Many doubted if the election was fair.

Some undergrad students, born in the late ‘90s and seen as Generation Z, expressed opposition to Biden in interviews with Global Observer.

“I don’t think [Biden] will be proactive and tough like Trump,” said Ellam Tsang, a third-year student of Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), who shared posts on Instagram expressing frustration about the voting and the final result. She acknowledged it’s hard for her to predict what Biden will do when he becomes president, but is concerned whatever support he shows will not reach the same level as Trump’s.

The situation between Hong Kong and mainland China is strained. Beijing has expanded its control of Hong Kong, which is semi-autonomous, with a new national security law.

Trump is seen as supporting Hong Kong by many HongKongers. He signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in November 2019, which requires the White House to impose sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials considered responsible for human rights abuses. It also requires the State Department to conduct an annual review of Hong Kong’s political status.

However, there is little evidence to indicate that Biden will take an easier line with China over Hong Kong. Before the election, Biden said in an op-ed in Foreign Affairs magazine that the U.S. needs “to get tough with China” because China “will keep robbing the United States and American companies.”

Biden has also called Chinese President Xi Jinping a “thug” and criticized his actions in Xinjiang and Hong Kong during the presidential debates. Since the beginning of the massive demonstrations in Hong Kong last year, he has blamed a “weak” Trump for his stance on Hong Kong and vowed a tougher stance if he wins.

Still, young Hongkongers worry that Biden’s victory will be a boon for China.

Tony Tse, one of the frontline protestors who just graduated from HKBU this year, is among people who shared posts on Instagram claiming “voter fraud,” repeating some of the baseless accusations that have circulated in the U.S.
Tse said Biden will “be friendly to China” and won’t use enough pressure to try to curb Chinese behavior, “such as the violation of Hong Kong democracy or the detention of the minority groups in Xinjiang.”