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A co-worker of mine just returned from visiting mainland China. She said everyone she spoke to, did not know about the protests in Hong Kong. They had no idea that something was happening there.

Claiming not to know was a way to avoid talking about it. Anyone in China who wants to know, knows. Of course the people in Shenzhen, less than 30km away, are aware of what's happening in HK. They just have no desire whatsoever to get into a political discussion with foreigners.

Don't underestimate the "them and us" mentality in China. It's very pervasive. Your co-worker was assuredly on the "them" side of the equation.

This. Not to mention in my experience most Chinese actually support the government.

I don't think that's the whole picture. Unless they are actively consuming foreign news, they are likely to be underinformed at best.

The Chinese I have met and who became my friends all mostly refuse to talk/mention politics. They ones that answer questions all do so without pushing but they add that really they could not care less about politics; their life has been moving upward steadily and they really do not want or need to know about anything unless that changes. One of my friends says he knows about HK but they do not talk about it because it is meaningless; they cannot do anything, take risk and really believe HK will enjoy the same standard of life upgrades as the mainlanders did. I know only techies and usually those are less politically inclined in ‘free’ countries as well in my experience.

If their phones have some sort of surveillance and catch them bad mouthing the government, they are going to have a bad time. In an authoritarian government, every level of society lies - it's not worth it to do otherwise.

My friends in SH believe they are celebratory parades for something....

either your friend or you is fool.

This is not necessarily a bad thing for the protesters in HK.

Considering the humiliation that the colonisation of HK had been for 100+ years and the resulting nationalistic tendency of the people, if CCTV (Chinese state TV) had shown the pictures of armed protesters storming the HK parliament and some of them flying the Union Jack then the Chinese government would have been forced to fall on the protesters like a ton of bricks.

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