Alberto Forchielli Interviewed by Rai News 24 (2014-10-03)

How do you think gesture of opening a dialogue with the HK protesters will be interpreted? 

It’s a scam. Normal. Even at Tian An Men, they called them to talk, and three days later they killed them all. It’s normal. First, you said it yourself, they asked to let some ambulances in but they were full of semi-military materials. It’s a scam. Those kids don’t have any hope of success.

What do you think the similarities are between what’s happening in Hong Kong and Tian An Men 25 years ago? 

Well, in this case, the Chinese government is fully in the right. Hong Kong is a Chinese territory, it’s a small part of the country, and the government has 1.4 billion people to keep together, it certainly can’t let Hong Kong auto-vote itself independent. It’s inconceivable. Also because the Mainland Chinese see the Hongkongers as a privileged and spoiled population, therefore there is no popular sympathy for them. And imagine if Beijing let these youngsters elect whom they want. It’s a possibility completely outside of any reality.

Can you remind us why reforming the electoral system in Hong Kong is so important to these young people?

Sure, because they would like to be able to elect people who have Hong Kong’s best interests at heart, which is to say, free elections. Instead, China would like to elect someone with China’s best interests at heart, which are not necessarily Hong Kong’s best interests. Also because there’s a whole social problem behind it, ever since Hong Kong’s independence 15 years ago, rich Chinese have gone hand in hand with the government, they made a ton of money, but the regular people lost out, they’re a lot worse off now. There has been a great separation in income. Nobody has worried himself over the wellbeing of Hong Kong’s citizens. Wealthy Hongkongers went to the Mainland to make money, but no one took care of the city, and the students know this.

These students have charisma; where do you think it comes from, and how have they been able to affect so many people? 

The older people… well, everybody in Hong Kong agrees about wanting democracy. But everyone knows that democracy means losing the bread, the older generations would rather keep the bread and do away with democracy. These kids are idealists, but their parents and grandparents aren’t, they want food on the table and then they can talk about civil liberties later on. But if there was a referendum, it would never win, this is the truth. The real problem is that in a moment when China could have demonstrated its soft power, it displays a, well, not a nice system. And then they want to reintegrate Taiwan, but imagine what people in Taiwan are thinking seeing this… no way. As this point integration with Taiwan is at a standstill. This is a drama for China: they keep saying that the Chinese model is better than the west’s but who are you going to explain that to at this point?