Hong Kong’s Little Blizzard


Photo Credit: Lam Yik Fei

A picture of Hong Kong protesters dressed in similar garb to what Blitzchung was wearing in the controversial video

Amid protest and mass unrest in Hong-Kong, video game production and publishing company Blizzard has dug itself a hole. The protest, which has had massive support from civilian masses around the world, is pro-democracy. It’s a fight for independent thought, jurisdiction, and lawmaking.

The protests are a fight against the proposed extradition bill, a bill that would allow any wanted person to be detained and transported to mainland China’s courts for fugitive sentencing. This detaining raises a questionable concern in the eyes of many Hong Kong citizens.

To fully explore this concern, the autonomy and independence of Hong Kong must be explained. In 1997, Hong Kong – formerly a British colony – was returned to Chinese jurisdiction: But there was, and is, a catch.

The colonial outpost, which had been under British control since 1841, with a formal ninety-nine year lease being signed in 1898, was released back to China. After the near one-hundred-year span, Hong Kong had become a mostly autonomous, self-governing nation-state. And it wanted to remain that way.

So, as Hong Kong underwent the formal procedure of returning itself to a Chinese controlled city, concessions were negotiated.

These concessions would take the form of a partially democratic system, with its own constitution, legal system, and the promise of free speech. The now individualized ‘country’ would be mostly autonomous, eventually even gaining free speech and uncontrolled usage of the internet.

As the new state governed itself under a capitalist system, it became an economically booming area. It became an international and multicultural city, modeling a ecumenopolis inside of a self-proclaimed communistic country.

For all intensive purposes, this is a good thing. Social and political freedom should be a human right, as should the access to a great many of the wealths and rights Hong Kong gained in this change to a “one country, two systems” mindset.

As global companies go, Blizzard Entertainment has a wide reach. It spreads the length of Europe and fills Eastern Asia, filling in intense pockets of interest in the Americas. The purveyor of a large number of extraordinarily popular video games and franchises, its impact on the capitalist world as a whole cannot be understated.

Now, in terms of interest in Hong Kong and the Chinese government, Blizzard has no huge role.

The catalyst of the unrest is caused in large part by two things: a player by the name of “Blitzchung” voicing his support for the Hong Kong protests, as well as Blizzard’s reaction to such support.

“Blitzchung”, whose real name is Ng Wai Chung, is a Hong Kong citizen and professional player of the game “Hearthstone”, which Blizzard owns and operates. In a streamed interview with two Taiwanese hosts, Chung donned a mask and goggles, seemingly representing the garb of Hong Kong protesters.

He said the words ‘liberate Hong Kong’ in Mandarin. Evidently, he did this as a ploy to garner attention and bring awareness to the growing protests.

Soon after, Blitzchung was banned from competitive play for a year and had a sum of ten-thousand US dollars revoked in recent prize winnings. Immediately after the news hit global headlines, business partners, politicians, and gamers alike rose to condemn the company’s handling of things. In a particular case, a collegiate level player by the name of Casey Chambers and two associated teammates held a sign to the camera of a Hearthstone livestream reading “boycott blizz,” among other things.

The focus on the sign was swiftly redirected, and the collegiate team involved received a six month ban, reportedly for “knowingly breaking the rules.”

This may not sound like a big deal, but it’s big enough for us to be talking about it more than half a month later. See, Chinese holdings company “Tencent” has a five percent share in Blizzard, and given how the Chinese government commonly treats things it does not like, it’s perhaps understandable that Blizzard reacted this way.

Despite however much sense it makes, that doesn’t excuse the fact that the gaming company treated its community poorly in both cases. Since the two incidents, the storm has largely calmed. However, maybe it shouldn’t.

Free speech is something humanity deserves. Something it has always deserved. Sadly, for entire epochs, this right has not been realized, and even now some a great many places and people lack it.

So, I implore you. When you see injustice in the form of silencing, punishing, or in any way purging the human voice and its opinions, don’t stand for it. Each and every person deserves to be heard. No singular entity – whether it be a corporation or governing body – deserves control over a person’s voice.