The future of Hong Kong is certain. It will be a city under the boot of a dictatorial regime forever. Hongkongers from all walks of life and regardless of political opinion are conscious of this. We had foolishly suspended thoughts of the inevitable, thinking that 2047 would come, but hoping that each day would pass slowly as we neared the hour when we would become another Chinese city. This is the struggle we face today. It is not one just of democracy, freedom and justice but that of defending the Hong Kong identity itself. It is easy to forget the cause that has brought us forward this far. With the scent of tear gas in the air and headlines repeating the phrase “violence in Hong Kong”, we are forced to wish for peace and order to be restored. Those who stand against these protesters forget the reasons there are people marching in the streets. Those brave souls who dare to face batons and bullets are the very ones who yearn to protect the freedoms Hong Kong has had so far. If normalcy is to return, we must have the autonomy we were promised. Those who praise and applaud the iron fist which is now crushing Hong Kong forget that Beijing will change the face of the city in its entirety. Even if protests subside and Hongkongers become docile, eliminating all remnants of what Hong Kong was will be the priority of the Communist Party. To kill a city, one does not have to kill its people or lock them up. Take their language away, their norms and beliefs, their distinct identity – and you eliminate its soul. This is the modus operandi of the party that seeks to liberate the oppressed. Beijing is moving steadily to bring Hong Kong closer into the fold This cause does not just belong to those in the streets but to those of us who call Hong Kong our home. Those who have left the city and those who find themselves inseparable from it are obliged to take up this cause, for the very way of life we treasure is under attack. Even if our fight is not that in the streets, we stand together in principle. We yearn to be free, to call Hong Kong our home and not our prison. Nigel Li, student, Moscow State Institute of International Relations Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.