Myriads of colored Post-it notes are popping up all over Hong Kong. Sticky note mosaics cover staircase walls, pedestrian footbridges, interstate underpasses, market walls, and countless other locations. The paper collections mimic the 1980s “John Lennon Wall”—a wall in Prague (capital city of Czechoslovakia then; now the Czech Republic). That wall was covered in graffiti related to the ideas of musician and social activist John Lennon of the very popular band The Beatles.
In Prague, the wall gave people an outlet for expressing their feelings in a communist-controlled society. In Hong Kong, the Post-it walls help citizens express their growing concern over loss of freedoms. The sticky notes give a voice to the people of Hong Kong—and a visual for their attempts at unity and identity.
For 156 years, Britain ruled Hong Kong. As colonialism declined, Hong Kong was the last large territory overseas under British jurisdiction. In 1997, Britain handed over the rule of Hong Kong to China. An agreement was forged between the United Kingdom and China that a “one country, two systems” policy would stay in place for 50 years. That was intended to prevent Hong Kong from being swallowed up by China’s communist government. Hong Kong’s capitalist way of life would continue for at least the designated 50 years—or so the agreement said.
The Post-it protests began when the Hong Kong government proposed a controversial law of extradition. In a nutshell, it says that people accused of crimes in Hong Kong must go to China to stand trial there. An overwhelming number of Hong Kong’s citizens oppose the extradition bill. They believe Hong Kong should judge Hong Kong’s own citizens. They see the bill as a corrosion of the freedom guaranteed them in the “one country, two systems” agreement. The citizens hope to pressure their government to change—and that’s the main reason for the walls. The people of Hong Kong want to be heard. They expect a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill.
Post-it walls are popping up more and more in Hong Kong, fueled by a social media frenzy. In some areas, volunteers stand guard over the paper squares. Why? Not everyone appreciates the phenomena. Angry, often older, pro-China residents tear down the sticky notes. Some berate protestors, spitting on their notes. But dissension hasn’t silenced the walls’ message.
“If they pull down one piece of paper, we’ll put up 10 more,” high-school student Ah Yi said in an interview with Quartz. Her hope is something that cannot be torn down. Christians know living at peace in a world of trouble relies on a hope that goes beyond human government.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you,” says Isaiah 26:3 of our perfect, trustworthy Ruler.