How Beijing Has Fomented The “Riots” And Incited Violence

A longer piece: Beijing’s All-Out Crackdown on the Anti-Extradition Protests in Hong Kong 

A shorter piece: Hong Kong’s Protests: Look Beyond Tiananmen 2.0


In 1989, Hong Kong people marched under the banner “Today’s Tiananmen, Tomorrow’s Hong Kong.” Thirty years later, the Tiananmen incident still has uncomfortable resonances in Hong Kong.

… the most notable similarity with Tiananmen is the fomentation of “riots” to justify a brutal repression.

… Why and how did Hong Kong’s protests go from peaceful rallies to fiercer forms of protest?

… All of Beijing’s previous attempts at undercutting Hong Kong’s freedoms were pushed back by peaceful protests. But because it is difficult to repress peaceful protesters, part of Beijing’s effort has been focused on turning them into violent protesters.

The process of radicalizing peaceful demonstrators has various steps, and the first move by Beijing has often been to refuse to make concessions, thereby forcing the opposition to either abandon their demands or to step up their actions. At Tiananmen Square, students escalated by going on a hunger strike. In Hong Kong, the government’s unresponsiveness to multiple peaceful marches gave rise to the protest slogan: “It is [you] who taught us that peaceful demonstrations are ineffective.”

As if to reinforce this conviction, the authorities have increasingly closed off nonviolent means of expressing dissent.

The Civil Human Rights Front, an organization that has led peaceful marches without incident since 2002, mobilized 1 million people on June 9, 2 million on June 16, and 1.7 million on August 18. However, the police have rarely issued “no-objection notices” after August 18 – rendering many subsequent protests “unlawful assemblies” to be cracked down upon in the eye of the law. Jimmy Sham, the Front’s convener, was even attacked twice by hired thugs.

Protesters have formed human chains, spontaneously sung “Glory to Hong Kong” across the city, and promoted their cause through public art and “Lennon Walls.” These peaceful displays of solidarity, however, are subject to same risks as other “unlawful assemblies”, and much of the art has been destroyed by government agents and counterprotesters. Supporters have been arrested by the police or stabbed by pro-Beijing thugs.

Strikes and boycotts, other popular nonviolent tactics, have also been made ineffective in Hong Kong, with Beijing responding by manipulating businesses across the city to punish employees who participated.

Indeed, the authorities have little tolerance for such nonviolent means of dissent because they are the hallmark of “color revolutions.” As a Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office spokesman said, the goal of general strikes and class boycotts is “to paralyze the Hong Kong government” and “seize the power for governing the Special Administrative Region.” Hong Kong Education Secretary Kevin Yeung issued a warning that students in uniform “should not stage, or participate in political activities, including class boycotts, singing songs, chanting slogans, forming human chains or other related activities like distributing flyers promoting political messages.”

To further tighten the screw on freedom of expression, the government imposed a mask ban on October 5. Most protestors wear masks to both hide their identities and protect themselves from tear gas and pepper spray. The high court ruled the ban unconstitutional on November 18, but Beijing immediately criticized this decision as a usurpation of central authority, never mind the original guarantee of judicial independence for local courts.

In addition to stifling legal and peaceful channels of expression, Beijing has also used brutality to intimidate some potential protesters and provoke violent reactions from others.

On this, we should turn our focus to the “other Tiananmens” across China in 1989. As analyzed by journalist Louisa Lim, for instance, party leaders deployed the police rather than the military in the inland city of Chengdu. The Chengdu police’s goal was not to disperse crowds, but to “annihilate” the movement by beating protesters to death and by ordering hospitals to stop accepting the wounded.

The repression in Hong Kong has echoes of the Chengdu model, short of outright killing. The Hong Kong police have beaten protesters with batons, breaking the bones of those already pinned down in direct view of journalists and passersby. The police fired point blank at a protester who had no weapon in his hands on November 11. Near the besieged Polytechnic University, police vehicles took on a new “battle tactic” to ram at high speed into protesters, causing a stampedeand severe injuries. Parents of students trapped inside were less worried about their children getting arrested per se, but more about their sons and daughters enduring broken limbs, sexual assault, and other forms of torture under arrest.

The police have also arrested first responders, blocked the path of ambulances, and rounded up suspected protesters at hospitals. Doctors and nurses, who know first-hand the extent of bone fractures and brain injuries, have staged sit-ins with the slogan “Hong Kong police attempt to murder Hong Kong citizens.” International observers complain that police operations are “unheard of in civilized societies” and have systematically violated international humanitarian norms.

Another aspect of the Chengdu model is the use of provocateurs and criminals to set fires to the People’s Market to discredit the movement and provide justification for an all-out repression. In Hong Kong, there is reasonable suspicion that some of the large-scale destruction was committed by officers dressed as protesters, who were escorted away rather than arrested by uniformed police.

The Hong Kong police have allegedly colluded with gangsters to beat up protesters, organizers, and journalists alike. The indiscriminate assaults by thugs in Yuen Long on July 21 and after triggered vigilante justice.

Driven by both the closing of legal dissent and the intensity of regime brutality, protesters have increasingly turned to violent escalation. This has, in turn, opened up the opportunity for agent provocateurs to further inflame the “riots.” As images of black-clad people emerge from vandalized shops and train stations, it is difficult to sort out who is a protester and who is in disguise.

Just as the narrative of smashing and burning helped to justify a heavy crackdown in 1989, Hong Kong protesters’ turn to firebombs has given credence to the authorities’ call to “stop the violence and end the turmoil.”

The sieges of university campuses represented a major escalation to wipe out the most determined young protesters under the new police commissioner Chris Tang. The police arrested 1,377 “rioters” from and near the Polytechnic University alone, taking the total number of arrests to 5,890. Mass arrests of protesters not just from the streets but also residential buildings, universities, and secondary schools means that there is no refuge for what Chief Executive Carrie Lam calls “enemies of the people.”

By manufacturing the “riots,” Beijing has managed to not just inflict debilitating injuries on rebellious youth, but also take down Hong Kong’s pillars of freedom. It has stifled freedom of assembly and undermined local courts’ final jurisdiction. These measures would have been unthinkable in Hong Kong’s more peaceful times.

… if a “Tiananmen 2.0” has been averted, this has to do not just with domestic events, but also with the city’s international status and international support. In 1989, international sanctions against Beijing came only after a bloody massacre. In 2019, the U.S. Congress tabled, debated, and passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in the face of heightening police brutality. It may not be sheer coincidence that the Chief Executive Carrie Lam agreed to suspend the extradition bill on June 15 after Senator Marco Rubio re-tabled the Act on June 13, that she announced the withdrawal of the bill on September 4 when the Congress held a hearing on U.S.-China relations, and that the District Council election was not delayed or canceled when the Act was set to pass.

For these reasons and more, the “Tiananmen 2.0” analogy has turned out to be overblown. And this is not because Beijing has “acted responsibly” as U.S. President Donald Trump said, but because the U.S. Congress and the rest of the world have kept a close watch.

See the entire piece at

New York Times photo: Protest photo evokes memories of Tiananmen era


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Taking stock of the university sieges and District Council elections

“Why the Protests in Hong Kong Have Taken a New Turn,” Global Dispatches, a United Nations and global affairs podcast, December 9, 2019 ( ).

Hong Kong citizens just voted for more democracy. What happens now? These local election results won’t keep protesters out of the streets

November 26, 2019 at 7:00 a.m. EST

Sunday’s District Council elections produced landslide victoriesfor pro-democracy candidates, just days after a Hong Kong campus turned into a siege battleground. Six months after Hong Kong’s mass protests began, where do things stand — and what’s next? Here’s what you need to know:


1. Clashes between police and protesters have become increasingly violent.


Since mid-June, protesters have demanded that Hong Kong authorities formally withdraw an extradition bill that sparked the initial mass demonstrations, open an independent investigation into police abuses, drop the “riot” characterization of the protests, release those arrested on rioting charges, and reopen a dialogue on genuine universal suffrage as promised in Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Sept. 4 belatedly announced the government would withdraw the extradition bill. By then, protesters had turned from umbrellas to firebombs and the police had resorted to massive arrests and brutal beatings of protesters.

As summer morphed into fall, confrontations spread from the streets to train stations, shopping malls and residential buildings across all major neighborhoods. Police routinely fired rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons at high velocity and at close range — and used live ammunition on Oct. 1 and Nov. 11. In turn, black-clad people (some were protesters and some could be agents provocateur) stabbed officers, meted out vigilante justice to regime supporters and vandalized pro-Beijing businesses.


2. Two Hong Kong universities came under siege.


A University of Science and Technology student named Chow Tsz-lok died Nov. 8, after an alleged fall from a parking garage that week. This triggered citywide mourning and a new cycle of escalation. As protesters threw debris to block major traffic routes around university campuses, police closed in on Chinese University of Hong Kong on Nov. 11 and then Polytechnic University on Nov. 18. Police retreated from the mountainous Chinese University but have continued to encircle the centrally located Polytechnic University, where an estimated 30 students remain.

Hong Kong analysts suspect that the new police commissioner, Chris Tang, deployed a deliberate strategy to lure hardcore protesters to “defend” Polytechnic — then arrest them all in one sweep. Police arrested more than 1,000 protesters, adding to nearly 4,500 arrests before the siege. Labeling those trapped on campus as “rioters” provoked an angry response from supporters, who attempted a counter-encirclement. The police then rammed their vehicles at high speed into nearby crowds, causing a stampede and more arrests.

[Updates: The police arrested 1377 people at Polytechnic, 810 from inside and 567 from surrounding areas. They also registered 318 youth below the age of 18, who may or may not be charged later. Total arrests stand at 5800 as of November 27.]


The images of university campuses in flames prompted international condemnation of the use of force — as did the arrests of medical volunteers wearing clearly marked vests and helmets.


3. The Sunday District Council elections were a de facto referendum on Hong Kong democracy.


The District Councils are the only bodies fully directly elected in Hong Kong. District Council elections typically involve local issues like local facilities and community activities. This time, voters made it clear this election was a way to voice their support for protesters, while China’s state-owned media urged Hong Kong people to “vote to end the violence.”

A record 2.94 million voters turned out — out of 4 million registered voters among a population of 7.5 million — undeterred by long lines throughout the day. Pro-democracy candidates included former student leaders and current protest organizers. They took 57 percent of the popular votes, thereby winning 388out of 452 seats and securing the majority in 17 of 18 districts councils.


4. The elections won’t resolve demands from Hong Kong protesters.


Sunday’s local elections suggest many in Hong Kong remain supportive of the protests. Many of the councilors-elect immediately vowed to press for the protesters’ remaining demands — in particular the call for an independent investigation on police brutality and the push for universal suffrage.


Although the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, promises “one country, two systems,” Beijing has been ruling from behind through the Central Coordination Group for Hong Kong and Macao Affairs, led by Vice Premier Han Zheng. Han has been meting out directives from across the border — it was apparently he who allowed the extradition bill’s suspension in June, and the District Council elections to proceed as scheduled. China’s Communist Party Plenum even formally proclaimed on Nov. 1 that the central government aims to “exercise governance” over Hong Kong.

Hong Kong people believe the only way to stop the erosion of “one country, two systems” is to reform how the chief executive and the Legislative Council are chosen as promised in the Basic Law. Under current arrangements, Beijing effectively handpicks the chief executive through a 1,200-member election committee. Pro-democracy district councilors are now guaranteed all 117 allotted seats in this committee, but they are still in the minority. In the Legislative Council, “functional constituencies” representing different industries and specialized sectors select half of the 70 seats, many chosen by pro-Beijing corporate votes.


The weakness of democratic accountability is what has allowed Beijing to push through any bills, corrupt the local police, roll back freedom of expression and undercut judicial independence. Hong Kong people’s deep fears of the vanishing “one country, two systems” is likely to sustain the protest demands.


5. Will the violence continue to escalate?

Many international observers ask if Hong Kong protesters will return to nonviolent means of protest, in the aftermath of the overwhelming victories at the District Council elections.


That may be the wrong question. Beijing has no tolerance for strikes and boycotts, seeing these as attempts at a “color revolution.” The police stopped granting “no-objection notices” to applications for peaceful marches, and has shown up in force to stop what it considers unlawful assemblies. Police have also harassed and arrested young students who have formed peaceful human chains. The government has further taken down “Lennon Walls” of pro-democracy artwork and messages.


The massive turnout for the elections suggests that Hong Kong people would opt for the ballot rather than confronting bullets. So perhaps the more important question is whether Beijing would open up the ballot box to include genuine universal suffrage for higher offices.

However, if Beijing is intent on controlling Hong Kong rather than honoring the promised high degree of autonomy, then it may well conclude that it should further tighten its grip on Hong Kong. If the ballot box and peaceful means of dissent are closed off, there is likely to be another cycle of violent escalation. As pundits have increasingly warned, Hong Kong could become Belfast.

source: Standnews
Screen Shot 2019-11-30 at 8.25.16 PM

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The mask ban and a pending constitutional crisis

In Hong Kong, Beijing’s tough talk could spark a constitutional crisis

The rule of law is at the heart of the protests

November 21, 2019 at 6:12 a.m. EST

China’s Legislative Affairs Commission on Tuesday condemned a Hong Kong high court decision to overturn the ban on wearing face masks — which Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters wear to avoid identification by police. The message from Beijing was clear: Only China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee can decide whether a local law aligns with the Basic Law, which guides Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” governance.

The Basic Law is designed to protect autonomy, the rule of law and basic freedoms for a period of 50 years after the July 1, 1997, handover to China. Legal scholars, however, cite recent concerns about whether Hong Kong will be able to retain these freedoms and the rule of law. Here’s what you need to know.

1. The rule of law has long been at the heart of Hong Kong protests

Global rule of law rankings in 2019 put Hong Kong near the top, at No. 16, higher than the United States (No. 20) — while China ranks in the bottom half, at No. 82. Hong Kong’s autonomy, and ability to maintain the rule of law, has been at the heart of nearly every protest since the 1997 handover.

Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam — in a leadership position determined by Beijing through a Beijing-friendly Election Committee — has little capacity to guard Hong Kong’s autonomy. This perception has helped drive popular demand for the universal suffrage promised as the “ultimate aim” in the Basic Law. During the 2014 “Umbrella Movement,” this was protesters’ key demand.

This same concern with the rule of law has shaped the current protests. At first, the 2019 demonstrations showed broad opposition to an extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong to extradite anyone to face criminal justice on the mainland, with limited exceptions. After 1 million and then 2 million protesters marched in successive weeks in June, the government still refused to withdraw the bill. This led to protesters breaking into and occupying the Legislative Council to block the bill’s passage.

2. Clashes with law enforcement led to demands for police accountability

After weeks of protest and violent confrontations by police, the Hong Kong government finally agreed to withdraw the bill. This proved too little too late. Protesters had added four other demands: an independent investigation of police behavior, amnesty for arrested protesters, withdrawal of the characterization of the protest as riots, and the promised democratic reforms.

The demand for an independent investigation has wide support of up to 80 percent on all sides of the political divide. Media coverage shows police manhandling protesters, and using rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons. The Hong Kong government continues to reject demands for an independent investigation, reinforcing questions on whether the police are above the law.


Rather than addressing the underlying political questions, the government has focused on strengthening law enforcement, including banning all face masks. To hide their identity from police and surveillance cameras, protesters began wearing masksover the summer. Lam promulgated the ban under a 1922 Emergency Regulations Ordinance (ERO), which gives the government wide powers to enact almost any restrictions it likes during an emergency or periods of public danger.

Under a legal challenge, the court found the ERO was incompatible with the Basic Law insofar as it applied to non-emergency public dangers. The High Court further found the ban on masks was essentially too broad and not proportionate to the government’s purpose.

3. Is Hong Kong facing a mini-constitutional crisis?

The Hong Kong Basic Law specifies Hong Kong courts are to be independent and final, and maintain the common law principles inherited from the United Kingdom, as practiced in Hong Kong. It further provides that no laws are to violate the Basic Law. These guarantees alone grant Hong Kong courts the power to exercise constitutional judicial review over legislation.

The Basic Law goes further. After noting the power of interpretation is vested in the NPC Standing Committee, Article 158 provides the Standing Committee “shall authorize the courts … to interpret on their own in adjudicating cases, the provisions of this law which are within the limits of the autonomy of the region.” Further provisions call for referral of interpretations to the Standing Committee for matters beyond the limits of autonomy.

At this point, Beijing appears set to intervene in Hong Kong, not with tanks, but by issuing a legal interpretation that would contravene the Hong Kong High Court’s ruling. A spokesman for the NPC Standing Committee’s Legislative Affairs Commission, Zang Tiewei, slammed the court’s ruling saying, contrary to the above Basic Law guarantees, only the NPC Standing Committee has the power to decide constitutionality of laws. Other PRC offices echoed this view.


This statement may signal the intention of the NPC Standing Committee to issue a concurring interpretation that would be legally binding. Such an interpretation would severely undermine the rule of law in Hong Kong, effectively freeing the Hong Kong government to enact any laws it wanted without an effective challenge in the courts.

What happens next? A NPC Standing Committee intervention could come immediately while the case is still pending, as was the case in a recent Standing Committee interpretation on disqualification of public officials who fail to take their oaths “sincerely.” Or the Standing Committee could wait to see how it is handled on appeal, where pressure on the court to conform to the above NPC Standing Committee view is now apparent.

Beijing’s statement does not sit well with leading lawyers in Hong Kong. Legal scholars see the face mask decision as a matter falling squarely within the scope of local autonomy, which should be a restraint on Standing Committee intervention. But scholars also cite concerns that the previous practice of restraint against Beijing intervention may no longer exist. If Beijing’s response is an indication of what’s to come, Hong Kong’s rule of law may be diminished further.

Michael C. Davis is a Senior Research Scholar at the Weatherhead East Asia Institute at Columbia University and a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center. He was formerly a professor in the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law.

Image from RFA:


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Refrain from violence to keep international support


Hong Kong protesters should refrain from violence to keep US support for democracy and human rights

Hong Kong protesters are engaged in a teenagers-vs-superpower struggle. The movement needs international support to tilt the balance. To mobilise international support, protesters should refrain from violent escalation.

Hong Kong people have been lobbying the US Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The act was passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday. It remains uncertain when and if it will be passed by the Senate.

Yet, when US Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley visited the city last weekend, they were greeted by news of a police officer being stabbed in the neck and the detonation of a home-made bomb for the first time. Both senators urged protesters not to respond to police violence with their own violence.

Protesters should heed this advice. The act, when signed into law, would impose sanctions against police officers and government officials who violate human rights in Hong Kong. Its passage would help rein in police brutality.

See more at:



Michael C. Davis

Democratic reform is the best way to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy and halt the cycle of protests and repression

How should we understand the ever-escalating violence, as the protests have lasted for 20 weeks, and where should we look for a solution that might bring the protests to a satisfactory end?

The historic effectiveness of non-violent protests in Hong Kong has largely depended on who is calling the shots, Hong Kong or Beijing. This same issue, which relates to the sufficiency of Hong Kong’s autonomy, is where a solution to the ongoing protests must be found.

Looking back at the many protests in Hong Kong – in 2003, over Article 23; in 2009, over the high-speed rail; in 2012, over national education; in 2014, over democracy, and; the current anti-extradition/democracy protest – a common denominator is that when the Hong Kong government is free to respond to demands, solutions can typically be found.

This was evident in two massive non-violent protests, the Article 23 demonstrations, where the draconian bill was ultimately withdrawn, and in the proposal over national education that was ultimately withdrawn. Such a local climbdown was also evident when Hongkongers fought off the proposed extradition bill: Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s self-admitted misjudgment produced a bill that is ultimately to be withdrawn.

If Beijing is seen to override Hong Kong’s autonomy to dictate outcomes, protests are more likely to be sustained and violent. This is not surprising, as the question of Beijing’s interference and the resultant diminution of Hong Kong’s autonomy has been at the heart of nearly all mass protests.

More at



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How Mainland Students at Chinese University of HK See The HK Protests

An important study on what mainland students at CUHK think about the protests. The views are surprisingly evenly split, not all against.

Main page:

Report 1香港中文大学内地生对反修例运动态度问卷结果报告-上-zdpuAviBnCDbvHseTTkECvFv9MLsAHyHhyEy4NBb4vJTZ4YtV

Report 2香港中文大学内地生对反修例运动态度问卷结果报告-中-zdpuAoD3Z4qu2tt3uKpnKbbeF79dNjZ8idrHTjNYJxZ3U1KPN

Report 3香港中文大学内地生对反修例运动态度问卷结果报告-下-zdpuB1NZhF6JCxKQjRzsh8zD2pghRTW9f7kfjvwuWp3tJD73g



10 月 11 日




*收集方式:通过研究团队的Facebook Page、研究成员朋友圈、内地生微信群,以滚雪球的方式发布






See the rest at the above links.


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Campaign to pass the HK Human Rights and Democracy Act

The letter to congressional leaders has been sent. See the letter below. See earlier post, the expiring/expired link to the original letter.
We are now expanding that campaign to gain further signatures and are migrating the campaign to For this second phase, the target is to get as many signatures as possible. Please kindly sign it (again) at the following link and share on your social media: (the link for your signature)
There is a lot of talk that the Act is certain to pass this time. What we have heard is that while the chance is higher, there is still much reluctance among some members of congress. The highest worry is that a senator may put a hold on the act and indefinitely delay it. Another worry is that some members would pass only the toothless resolution 543 and think that they have done the right thing for HK: 
Support Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (S.1838/H.R.3289)
The enclosed letter will be sent to the following Congressional leaders individually:

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
SFRC Chairman James Risch
SFRC Ranking Member Robert Menendez
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
HFAC Chairman Eliot Engel
HFAC Ranking Member Michael McCaul
Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney
Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
CECC Chairman Rep. Jim McGovern
CECC Co-Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio

For example:

The Speaker of the House of Representatives
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
H-232 The Capitol
Washington DC, 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

As supporters of human rights and democracy, with deep concern for Hong Kong, we strongly urge the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (S.1838/H.R.3289, introduced in Congress on June 13, 2019. The 1992 Hong Kong Policy Act (PL 102-383) vitally needs updating to meet the escalating crisis that has dominated the news for months. We urge you to move this bill through committee and schedule a vote in your respective chambers on this important legislation without delay.

The Hong Kong Policy Act demonstrated a strong U.S. commitment to human rights and democracy in Hong Kong and acceptance of China’s invitation to treat Hong Kong separately from the rest of China with regard to trade, investment, commerce, immigration and other cultural and educational relations. China committed to this special status in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which allows Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy,” and guarantees that democracy, the rule of law, and basic human rights will be maintained under the “one country, two systems” model. The Joint Declaration itself guarantees rights and freedoms in Hong Kong, “including those of the person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, of correspondence, of strike, of choice of occupation, of academic research and of religious belief.”

Beijing has violated these solemn commitments by eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy and rule of law since the 1997 handover, especially in recent years. Over the same period, the Beijing-appointed Hong Kong government has proven unable or unwilling to safeguard Hong Kong’s autonomy. It has become complicit in undermining basic freedoms. The ongoing onslaught on the rule of law will not stop without the democratic reform promised in the Basic Law. This situation harms not only Hong Kong people but also the city’s vast amount of trade and finance, adversely affecting the U.S. business community –- including 85,000 Americans based in Hong Kong.

We are deeply disturbed by the recent parade of Chinese and Hong Kong government infractions of these basic policies. Beijing’s 2014 White Paper on Hong Kong effectively dismissed the continued applicability of the Joint Declaration. Beijing refused to offer long-promised democratic reforms in 2014-15. Elected legislators were barred from taking up their office in the partially democratic Legislative Council. Select opposition candidates were not allowed to run for office. Pro-democracy protesters faced harsh sentences. A political party was banned, and the Hong Kong government expelled the foreign journalist who hosted the party’s convenor. Most recently, the proposed extradition law would have made anyone living in or transiting Hong Kong vulnerable to China’s highly-politicized criminal justice system –- notorious for human rights abuses and injustice.

These activities have led in recent weeks to massive protests of up to two million people. The government has resorted to repression instead of responding to public concerns. Both the Chinese and Hong Kong governments have allowed and even encouraged abusive police practices to quell the protests, leaving the community in chaos. Requests for an independent investigation have been ignored. Authorities are even credibly suspected of complicity in the beating of dozens of protesters and bystanders by a marauding criminal gang.

The U.S. Government needs additional tools between simply reporting on Hong Kong’s special status or revoking it. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act expands the policy toolbox in the following ways:

(1) Requiring annual recertification by the Secretary of State of Hong Kong’s autonomy, which adds teeth and vital political judgment to the oversight process.

(2) Requiring Commerce, Treasury, and the State Department to report on whether the government of Hong Kong is adequately enforcing American export laws regarding sensitive dual-use items and U.S. and UN sanctions, which addresses the vital question of technology transfers.

(3) Providing authority to sanction those individuals responsible for suppressing human rights in Hong Kong, which serves to emphasize the core nature of human rights and the rule of law both in U.S. foreign policy and in the success of Hong Kong.

(4) Prohibiting U.S. visa denials for Hongkongers on the grounds of conviction of offences related to the demonstrations, which ensures protection for the guardians of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

(5) Banning travel to the U.S. by those responsible for violations of human rights and other commitments related to Hong Kong, which ensures individual accountability.

(6) Reporting to Congress on those sanctioned by the U.S. Government related to Hong Kong, which better informs congressional decisions going forward.

We are grateful to the members of the House and Senate who have sponsored and co-sponsored the bill, and to the Speaker of the House for expressing her support. We understand the bill is not perfect and appreciate efforts to strengthen and broaden its coverage that can be pursued in the legislative process. We strongly encourage passage.

With highest urgency,

Signed (in alphabetical order), Affiliation (for identification purposes only)

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Testimony at Congress

US-China Economic and Security Review Commission

Hearing on “U.S.-China Relations in 2019: A Year in Review”

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The event and the written testimony:

The video:

The oral beginning statement:

The Hong Kong Reckoning

Thanks so much for giving Hong Kong a voice.

I was born in Hong Kong and I grew up in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong protests are both academic and personal to me.

China watchers have raised the phenomenon of “China reckoning” in U.S.-China relations: that Americans have only belatedly waken up to China’s increasingly aggressive trade and security policies.

If international observers had paid more attention to Beijing-Hong Kong relations over the years, a “Hong Kong reckoning” could have led to an earlier “China reckoning.”

Beijing has broken the promise of “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” with a “high degree of autonomy” under the “one country, two systems” model — written in black and white in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong Basic Law.

Many people believe that all is well in Hong Kong so long as Beijing does not roll out tanks into the streets of Hong Kong in Tiananmen-like fashion.

My friend Victor Shih testified this morning that China’s approach to Hong Kong has been “soft” and “moderate.”

It is a mistake to narrowly define “violence” by looking only at PLA deployment.

This view distracts from how Beijing has controlled Hong Kong through nonmilitary but still heavy-handed means.

In order to quell the current protests, Beijing has deployed the Hong Kong police without rolling out Chinese troops, used the Hong Kong government to take draconian measures without formally declaring emergency, and wielded less visible, whole-of-society white terror without creating bad optics.

The U.S. Congress and the U.S. Government should broaden monitoring efforts from Chinese troop deployment to the daily repressive measures already applied in Hong Kong.

The protests started with the call to withdraw the extradition bill, which would have required Hong Kong to turn over accused offenders to mainland China.

The Chief Executive Carrie Lam “suspended” the bill on June 15. But she refused to withdraw it until early this morning.

This concession is too little too late.

In refusing to address protestors’ demands, the Authorities have relied on Hong Kong’s police to repress the escalating protests in the last two and a half months.

This policy has corrupted what used to be Asia’s finestpolice into “just another mainland force.”  When I was a little girl, my mom would tell me that, “whenever you get lost, go get help from a police uncle or aunty.” That was the level of trust then. Today, as shown in global TV, the police arbitrarily beat up and arrests Hong Kong people.

It is not even obvious who the police answer to. When the Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, Carrie Lam’s second in command, apologized about police actions, he was publicly rebuked by the Police Inspectors’ Association.

To make it even clearer that it is Beijing ruling from behind the scene, the central government’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office in rare press conferences said: “We should relentlessly crack down on… violent criminal acts without mercy, and we firmly support Hong Kong police and judicial authorities” in doing the job.

Beijing has additionally stepped up a white terror campaign to silence the larger society.

The written testimony chronicles such repressive measures up to September 2. The rest of my oral testimony will only highlight the key points.

The first point: The bloody crackdown.

The first tactic in the police toolkit is to restrict the freedom to protest by refusing to issue a “no-objection notice” — essentially, a permit. This technically renders protests “unlawful.”

Second,the police have arrested more than 1,100 peoplesince June, charging many with not just “unlawful assembly,” but also serious crimes such as rioting, assaulting the police and possessing weapons.

Third, the police routinely hit protestors with batons and fire tear gas, pepper spray, beanbags, rubber bullets, and sponge grenades.

The first “bloody Sunday” happened on August 11and more bloody arrests have taken place since.

The UN Human Rights Officeand Amnesty Internationalhave accused the Hong Kong police of using crowd control weapons in waysthat are prohibited by international standards.

What is not visible to reporters and bystanders is even more disturbing. Many of the detained were denied access to lawyers for many hours, and stopped from contacting families. Some of them were so brutally beatenin detention that they came out with broken bones and head injuries.

It is noteworthy that doctors and nurses have repeatedly staged sit-ins with the slogan “Hong Kong policeattempt to murder Hong Kong citizens.” A nurserecounted how one detainee’s wrist is connected only by skin, with bones and tendons both broken in x-ray.  Medical workers have also complained about inhumane rules and procedures: that ambulances are not allowed access to the wounded at protest sites without police approval, that the police arrestsuspected protestors at hospitals so that the injured are fearful of seeking medical treatment, and  that medical staff are restricted from calling families on patients’ behalf.

Most alarming, police forces are credibly suspected of collusion with criminal gangswho have assaulted both reporters and protesters.

This biased enforcement of the law and complicity with lawless attacks on protestors has turned Hong Kong into a police state, even a mafia state.

The second point: Hong Kong has taken Emergency Measures Without Declaring Emergency Since August 30

The authorities were particularly worried about August 31, the fifth anniversary of a Beijing decision to deny universal suffrage that had sparked the Umbrella Movement of 2014.

The day before, the police arrested well-known legislators and activists as a preemptive move to suppress protest turnouts the next day.

To further intimidate the public, the police for the first time imposed a total banon a peaceful march organized by the Civil Human Rights Front on August 31.

The police then took severe measures against those who dared to protest.

They deployed water cannons with blue dye for the first time, leading analysts to draw analogy with martial law under theapartheid regimein South Africa.

The police also stormed into the Prince Edward metro station with batons and pepper spray. The early horrifying scenes were caught on live streamsand videos. The police later ordered reporters to leavethe station. Medical staff were also notallowed in for 2.5 hours. The police acted more violently that night than the notorious gangsters has before.

Pro-government voices have been advocating the imposition of emergency to put an end to the escalating protests. However, if the Hong Kong police are already taking away citizens’ right to protest arbitrarily arresting democratically elected law-makers and activists indiscriminately beating up passengers inside train stations banning reporters from covering police abuses denying medical workers access to the wounded arresting social workers who mediate between the police and protestors breaking the bones of the arrested, then the Hong Kong government has effectively adopted emergency measures even if it has not formally declared emergency.

The third point is a widening white terror to punishprofessionals.

The protests have enjoyed extensive societal support. One million marched on June 9, 2 millions on June 16, and 1.7 millions on August 18. Many professional groups have organized protests one after another: medical staff, social workers, journalists, civil servants, lawyers, airlines crew, teachers, accountants, surveyors, architects, financial sector staff, and many more.

The police cannot lock up every dissenting voice. But Beijing has dramatically raised the costsof supporting the protests.

  • For Cathay Pacific Airways, Beijing has forced it to choosebetween its China business and its employees right to protest, banning crew member who had. The pressure has led to the resignation of the CEO and the sacking of pilots and ground staff.
  • The big four accounting firms in Hong Kong are also pressed to identify employees who placed an advertisementin the pro-democracy Apple Daily.
  • Teachersare targeted by China’s People Dailyfor polluting young minds.
  • TVB, HK’s main TV station, has fired over 20 staff for pro-protest comments.

The extent of Beijing’s erosion of HK’s autonomy is nicely captured by one social media meme: HK’s police, airlines, and television stations no longer belong to Hong Kong people, because the Hong Kong government does not belong to Hong Kong people.

Hong Kong’s Last Stand

Yet, the combination of bloody crackdown and white terror has only stiffened Hong Kong people’s resolve to defend the freedoms that they have grown up with.

They see this struggle as the “last stand” because they are fast losing even the basic freedom – the freedom from the fear of getting beaten by police officers and gangsters, and the fear of getting fired for simply saying “Go, Hongkongers (香港人加油)!”

Stand with Hong Kong

We don’t know how the protests will unfold. What the determined Hong Kong people have achieved so far is to fully expose the lie that Beijing has kept its promises to Hong Kong.

If there is anything left to “one country, two systems,” it is the people of Hong Kong themselves – it is their will to keep defending their freedoms at huge personal costs.

The world’s democracies should stand with them. Hong Kong protesters have called on the US Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Protestors have called for international condemnation of police abuses, and for closer monitoring of the less visible white terror. Hong Kong people have called for closer international monitoring of the right to protest – they should not have their heads and limps broken under arrest. Hong Kong women have called for protection of their dignity – they should not be subject to strip search and sexual assault by the police. Hong Kong’s medical staff have called for international humanitarian assistance. They should not be denied access to injured and they should not themselves be arrested. Hong Kong’s social workers have called for attention to similar humanitarian concerns. They should not be arrested for providing social service to protestors.

Stand with Hong Kong!

Thank you.



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Why “no retreat”? Beijing’s whole-of-society repression is coming

I am reposting Sebastian Veg’s excellent analysis on this issue:

A shortened version in The Guardian: Beijing’s game plan for stifling the Hong Kong protests is now clear – Manipulation of public opinion and pressure on the region’s businesses, universities and judiciary are part of the strategy

A longer version: Beijing’s Strategy of Corrosion


“Beijing should rely first and foremost on the Chief Executive, the Hong Kong government, and One Country Two Systems, second on the Hong Kong police and judiciary, third on patriotic forces in Hong Kong, and fourth on the overwhelming majority of HK people who desire peace and stability. Zhang’s statement lays out a multi-pronged strategy. The Hong Kong police have been tasked with suppressing demonstrations at any cost. A previous commander was brought back out of retirement, in an implicit acknowledgment of previous missteps, but presumably to enforce even harsher methods. On August 12, police were forced to recognize that plainclothes offices had infiltrated protesters. Similarly, the judiciary will come under further pressure from the prosecution, using politicized charges and expedited procedures.

Next, patriotic forces will be mobilized to reunify the extremely disunited pro-establishment camp: businesses will face disproportionate retaliation or boycott if they do not actively oppose the protests; universities and public institutions in Hong Kong will be brought back under control through internal discipline. This will raise the cost of sympathizing and participating for ordinary protesters. Indeed, pro-establishment politicians immediately lined up behind Beijing’s wording, putting an end to calls for Lam’s resignation or an independent inquiry. Finally, Beijing has engaged in a battle to turn public opinion in Hong Kong against the movement and isolate the “violent extremists” from the “patriotic silent majority,” especially by highlighting the economic impact of protests. Depictions of the protests as instigated by “foreign forces” were stepped up.”

Mike and my analysis on Why Beijing Doesn’t Need to Send in the Troops in Foreign Affairs:


Beijing does not only use force to control Hong Kong; it adopts a whole-of-society approach. It used this approach to shut down the 2014 Umbrella Movement, and it will likely do the same to deal with the current anti-extradition protests.

To silence the streets, organizers of the protests—who were calling for “genuine universal suffrage”—were arrested and sentenced to up to 16 months in jail for “inciting nuisance” and “inciting others to incite nuisance.” To cleanse the civil service, law enforcement, judicial institutions, and university councils, Beijing used its handpicked chief executive, who has overwhelming authority over appointments and promotions within the Hong Kong government, to fill these positions with loyalists. To curb the power of Hong Kong’s elected Legislative Council, the government banned some opposition candidates from running for office and disqualified others after they had been elected. And to further undercut the courts’ lingering independence, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress took the unusual step of issuing a binding interpretation of local oath-taking requirements while a case to remove legislators who had disrespectfully stated their oath was still pending.

Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong’s Western District—the instrument of Communist Party control—does not intervene only at the top levels of the Hong Kong government. Its influence reaches deep into all 18 of the city’s administrative districts. It has internal offices for each of the district councils, and each district has representatives of the Liaison Office. These representatives busily attend and organize local functions to buy loyalty. They also mobilize support for Beijing’s favored candidates in elections. Junius Ho, widely accused of being the mastermind behind the mob attacks in Yuen Long, won his legislative seat in 2016 after his opponent withdrew from the race, citing anonymous threats.

See Willy Wo-lap Lam’s analysis of President Xi Jinping’s instruction to use harsh measures short of sending in the PLA to end the protests 習總在北戴河有關「特區平亂」的指示- 嚴刑峻法 寸土不讓


See my earlier analysis of how Beijing reined in HK in the aftermath of the 2014 Umbrella Movement.

See what has already happened to Cathay Pacific: Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg resigns amid Hong Kong protest row — and Beijing’s CCTV announced the news before HK



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In the face of increasingly lethal repression, use strikes and boycotts

Beijing does not have to send out Chinese troops because Hong Kong’s police are cracking down hard on the protesters.

Police actions on Sunday have caused particularly bloody injuries. Officers disguised as protesters beat up arrested protesters, leaving several with fractures. Police fired on protesters escaping into a train station with pepper spray at close range. Police shot one woman in her right eye with a rubber bullet. Police beatings left one man with a brain bleed.

Medical workers have since complained that the police “attempted to murder Hong Kong citizens.” Police are also credibly suspected of colluding with criminal gangs who have assaulted protesters and reporters.

Still, increasingly lethal repression is unlikely to end this “last fight for Hong Kong.” If Chinese forces roll into Hong Kong, protesters will “go home to sleep” – but strikes and boycotts, which are less vulnerable to physical suppression, will persist.

Beijing has issued an ultimatum to Hong Kong by labeling the months-long anti-extradition protest a “color revolution,” and by airing videos of Chinese troops and police practicing riot-control in Hong Kong-like urban settings. Those threats are unlikely to deter further protests.

If Beijing views the challenge from Hong Kong as a “battle of life and death,” so do protestors: some carry a death note in their backpacks.

And some Hong Kong youth see the anti-extradition struggle as a “last stand.” Beijing has incrementally eroded Hong Kong’s political and civil liberties for two decades. The proposed extradition bill would further undercut the city’s independent judiciary, the last firewall that protects Hong Kong from the mainland’s questionable criminal justice system.

The peaceful marching of one million on June 9 and 2 million on June 16 did not move the government. Young protestors have escalated their actions in response to government indifference. On the handover anniversary on July 1, protestors stormed and vandalized the Legislative Council building. On July 21, they defaced the national emblem outside Beijing’s Liaison Office; on August 3 and 5, they threw the national flag into the harbor in the tourist district of Tsim Sha Tsui. On August 3 and 4, teenage girls tossed bricks at police stations.

If the authorities had agreed to formally withdraw the extradition bill and open an independent investigation earlier in June, it could have avoided this escalation. Instead, the authorities have used excessive and illegitimate force to beat up and arrest protestors. Police officers have hit protestors with batons and aimed their guns with rubber bullets at protestor’s heads. They have charged at least 44 protestors with rioting, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail. And since July 21, organized gangsters have been mobilized to attack black-clad protestors with wooden sticks, metal rods, and knives.

But this repressive strategy, instead of stopping the protests by arresting the roughly 1000 “violent protesters,” has only inflamed dissent. Among the 589 arrested so far include not just protestors, but also journalists, medical volunteers, and NGO observers. Indiscriminate and illegitimate police violence has only enlarged popular support for the protests, even among moderate professional groups like civil servants, finance employees, accountants, architects, surveyors, and flight attendants.

What intensified police and thug violence may achieve is to convince protestors to adjust their protest methods. On social media, protestors are discussing dispersed methods such as strikes and boycotts, which are less vulnerable to physical arrests and attacks. The general strike on August 5 successfully mobilized 350,000 people, and may be repeated. There is also talk of weekly consumer boycotts targeting pro-Beijing businesses.

For protestors, there is no retreat. They may “go home to sleep” if the PLA does roll into Hong Kong, but they will persist with different protest methods.

See related posts on dispersed protest methods: How to keep the struggle alive; the need for sustainable protest tactics; strikes and boycotts in other world cases

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What happens now that Beijing has called the protests a ‘color revolution’?

By Michael C. Davis Victoria Tin-bor Hui

August 10 at 6:00 AM

The Hong Kong government had described some of the early protests in Hong Kong as a “riots.” On Wednesday, Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said the protests have taken on “color revolution characteristics,” warning that “the central government will not sit back and do nothing.”

Wang Zhimin, head of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, added that the crisis has evolved into a “battle of life and death.” An anti-riot drill across the border in Shenzhen and earlier troop drills by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong suggest that Beijing has a close eye on Hong Kong.

What do these escalations in rhetoric mean? Here’s what you need to know.

The “color revolution” label is complicated

Zhang pointed out that the protest slogans had shifted to “Reclaim Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times.”

Hong Kong’s massive protests began in May and called for the government to formally withdraw an extradition bill that would have required Hong Kong authorities to turn over accused offenders to mainland criminal justice.

Protesters now want an independent investigation into police abuses and are calling on the Hong Kong government to drop riot charges and reopen the debate over democratic reform — which the government set aside in 2015.

But unlike color revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia and elsewhere, people in Hong Kong are not fighting for some abstract ideals that they have never experienced. Instead, they are defendingthe freedoms and autonomy that they have grown up with. If they also aspire to democracy, that is because it had been guaranteed to them.

Protesters march near the skyline of Hong Kong in July. (Kin Cheung/AP)

Protesters refuse to give up on earlier promises

The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which set the stage for Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997, promised the city a high degree of autonomy and a system based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The 1991 Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, provides for the “ultimate aim” of “universal suffrage” in the selection of the chief executive and the Legislative Council.

However, Beijing undermined this vision from the start by delaying democratic reform and assigning itself the ultimate power to interpret the Basic Law, overriding the local courts, which were supposed to be “independent” and “final.” Hong Kong’s Legislative Council is structured to keep directly elected legislators in perpetual minority so that the chief executive is guaranteed enough votes to push through any bills.

Masked protesters and academics have explained that “reclaiming Hong Kong” means a return to the former Hong Kong with the rule of law, an impartial police force, an independent judiciary and an unfettered free press. “Revolution,” they argue, is not a new term — pointing to the 2014 “Umbrella Revolution.” The rallying cry then was “I want genuine universal suffrage.”

Beijing may have several ways to intervene

The shift in rhetoric suggests Beijing sees the ongoing protests as an existential threat. The Basic Law clearly states that PLA troops stationed in Hong Kong are for defense only and “shall not interfere in local affairs.” When reporters asked about PLA deployment, Beijing spokesperson Yang Guang replied on July 28 that “The Basic Law has clear statements on that question, and I have nothing to add.”

But Article 14 also states the Hong Kong government may ask for “assistance from the garrison in the maintenance of public order and in disaster relief.” With a chief executive chosen by a 1,200-person selection committee that generally defers to Beijing, the central government in China can easily direct the local government to request PLA assistance.

Article 18 of the Basic Law provides a bypass option. During war or “by reason of turmoil within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region which endangers national unity or security and is beyond the control of the Region,” the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress can declare an emergency and apply “the relevant national laws.”

Labeling the protest a “color revolution” gives Beijing a route to stage a military intervention.

As we detail in our Foreign Affairs article, Beijing has other means before resorting to this nuclear option. First and foremost, officials have expressed full support for the Hong Kong police to “punish violent and unlawful acts” by “radical” protesters.

Under the Public Order Ordinance, demonstrations are “unlawful” if the police refuse to issue a “no-objection notice” — essentially, a permit. Such refusals were rare for two decades since the 1997 handover, but the police have repeatedly used this card in recent weeks and have arrested hundreds of suspected protesters. Police appear to be charging many with the vaguely defined crime of rioting, which could carry a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Police officers have become less restrained

Police officers in recent weeks have routinely fired tear gas, pepper spray, beanbags and sponge grenades. Police have also fired rubber bullets at head level. They have fired tear gas at and arrested not just black-clad protesters but also medical volunteers, social workers, elected councilors, reporters and passersby.

They have been accused of colluding with gangsters who indiscriminately beat up locals with wooden sticks and metal rods at the suburban Yuen Long train station on July 21. A week later, the police indiscriminately charged with batons and tear gas at crowds in the same station, leading to headlines likening the police to thugs.

To date, the gangsters who attacked train passengers and protesters alike have not been charged; only two dozens have been investigated and released on bail. This biased enforcement of the law and tolerance of lawless attacks on protesters has turned a wide sector of traditionally conservative Hong Kong residents against the police. Various professional groups — including financial sector workers, accountants, architects, airport staff and civil servants — have staged their own rallies.

A recent poll shows that 79 percent of the Hong Kong public want an independent investigation into police abuses. Addressing this one demand could readily de-escalate the tensions. But Beijing officials have made it clear that this would not happen before they have put an end to the “color revolution.”

All these developments suggest Hong Kong’s protests have become entrenched. So far, the deafness of authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing and the indiscriminate nature of repression have only radicalized protesters and widened their circle of support.

Michael C. Davis is senior research scholar at the Weatherhead East Asia Institute at Columbia University and global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.

Victoria Tin-bor Hui, associate professor in political science at the University of Notre Dame, is the author of “Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement: The Protests and Beyond.”



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Why Beijing Doesn’t Need to Send in the Troops

Will China Crush the Protests in Hong Kong?

Why Beijing Doesn’t Need to Send in the Troops

A protestor throws a rock at a police station in Hong Kong, August 2019Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

For five months, Hong Kong has seen waves of massive protests and violence in the streets. And for five months, the local authorities, with the backing of Beijing, have responded in increasingly draconian ways—from wielding batons and firing lethal shots at protesters to jailing them on rioting charges—that have succeeded mostly in inflaming public sentiment. The situation has devolved into a stalemate, featuring escalating protests and brutal clashes between police and demonstrators. The question on everyone’s mind is if and when the Chinese government will resort to more aggressive means—including use of the military—to end the unrest for good.

The protests began in February in response to a proposed law that would allow Hong Kong to extradite residents of the territory to the Chinese mainland, tearing down the last firewall protecting Hong Kong from Beijing. Although Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam agreed to “suspend” the extradition bill on June 15, residents have continued to press their demands, calling for the formal withdrawal of the bill, an independent investigation into police abuses, the dropping of riot charges against protesters, and the introduction of democratic reforms.

On July 21, after activists defaced the national emblem outside of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong’s Western District, the spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense accused the protesters of “challenging the central government’s authority” and violating the principle of “one country, two systems”—the term used to describe Beijing’s model for ruling Hong Kong since assuming sovereignty over the territory in 1997. The protesters’ “radical” actions, he said, were “intolerable.” Then, on July 31, the Chinese military garrison in Hong Kong released a video showing Chinese troops practicing anti-riot drills. In one scene, the troops shouted that “all consequences are at your own risk!” Together, these messages were widely seen as a threat to deploy troops from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Some commentators in the United States have even raised the prospect of another Tiananmen Square.

Yet a military intervention is unlikely. Beijing has greatly benefited from Hong Kong’s ostensible autonomy, enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the 1990 Hong Kong Basic Law, which established the formula of “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong.” This arrangement has allowed the city to become the leading financial center of Asia and an important link between the Chinese and global economies. Beijing has a strong incentive to preserve the façade of autonomy in Hong Kong.

What’s more, it already has a tool kit, honed during the 2014 protests known as the Umbrella Movement, to keep Hong Kong in check. Rather than cracking down with its military, the mainland authorities are likely to step up other repressive measures to end the protests and restore comprehensive control without undermining an arrangement that serves them well. Beijing, in other words, doesn’t need to turn to what commentators call the “nuclear option”: it hopes to achieve what it wants at lower costs with tools it has used before.



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Support Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (S.1838/H.R.3289)

We have all been following the urgent developments in Hong Kong over the past couple months. Hong Kong protest leaders have come to Washington to petition for prompt passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Academic, expert and NGO colleagues have come together to prepare a letter supporting this urgent plea. At the following link you will find both the letter and the current list of signatories:
At the end of the letter and list you can see the section where you can add your name to the list of signatories. Your support will be greatly appreciated. You are also encouraged to pass the letter on to invite other colleagues to sign on. For this petition, we are signing as concerned people affiliated with universities or other professional or NGO organizations whose opinion reflected in the letter should be of interest to members of Congress. The situation in Hong Kong is developing quickly and we will want to get this letter to Congress in mid-August before the end of the current recess.
Please note: the two signature campaigns are different; you are welcome to sign both.
Also, letter from Hong Kong’s 22 progressive professional groups:

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An extended conversation on the anti-extradition movement (with background info)

Rob Precht conducted an extended interview with us on July 30.


Error: I meant “aversion to violence” when I said “immunity to violence.” Many apologies!




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What Hong Kong’s student activists can teach the world and what they can learn from other struggles

first appeared in

July 10th, 2019

Hong Kong’s recent anti-extradition protests have taken on the air of the last standagainst the erosion of the territory’s freedoms. In addition to repeated millions-strong peaceful marches through Hong Kong’s business districts, several hundreds of university and secondary-school students stormed the Legislative Council on the 22ndanniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China on 1st July.

The world is still trying to make sense of what the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam calls an “extremely violent” act. International observers are puzzled: why would the same young activists who self-organize to clean up streets and recycle garbage at every protest, have vandalized the Legislative Council (LegCo) building? How should we comprehend the seeming turn to violence – the damage to physical property, if not human life?

Protestors take pride in that the recent anti-extradition protests are leaderless in contrast to the Umbrella Movement of 2014. The last episode had a joint leadership of the Occupy trio (Professors Benny Tai and Chan Kin-ming along with Rev. Chu Yiu-ming), the Hong Kong Federation of Students composed of university students, and Scholarism formed of secondary students. At the time, some of the “rowdies” (as the last Governor and current Oxford university dean, Christopher Patten calls them) complained that this leadership structure did not represent all the protestors. The putative leaders tried to achieve consensus on what to do beyond staying at the Occupy sites, but were unsuccessful.

The current wave of protests has taken on a decentralized decision-making structure. Official student unions and various civil society groups coordinate protest acts, but no one takes leadership. One reason is to avoid arrests as the Umbrella leaders were sentenced to jail. Another reason is to transcend internal differences over strategies and tactics that could paralyze the movement again. Individual protestors and different groups are left to decide for themselves if they want to legally follow marching routes or to illegally gather outside government offices; actions are coordinated on Telegram chat groups and other social media platforms, and by protestors on the spot.

The decision to storm the LegCo building was made by a vote among masked protestors who had gathered there. In the immediate aftermath, televised scenes of vandalism led some fellow-protestors to agree with the government’s condemnation of violence. Yet, it is remarkable that the division is not as widespread as originally feared. Even moderate protestors, who disagree with the extensive physical damages, are generally sympathetic.

This is especially so after it emerged that four of the young protestors were prepared to take the ultimate form of protest – suicide. By 1st July, three young people had committed suicide. (A fourth person killed herself on 3rd July.) When pro-democracy legislators advised protestors that breaking into the building could land them a 10-year jail sentence, they expressed their wish for a symbolic suicide; they could make a bigger statement if they died from storming into the Legislative Council than jumping from the top of a high-rise building. They were saved when fellow-protestors dragged them out shortly before the police arrived to clear the site.

The more important question is thus, not why otherwise self-disciplined student activists would resort to vandalism, but why they are willing to risk their careers, even their lives? Government voices blame liberal arts education for turning universities and secondary schools into hotbeds of dissent. They should instead examine why Hong Kong’s young people are convinced that the government has robbed them of their future and the meaning of life.

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The limit of ‘leaderlessness’ and need for sustainable protest tactics

[Boycott lists at the bottom]

First appeared in

See also A leaderless movement, or leadership decentralized but coordinated?

Author: Victoria Hui | Publish Date: 08.07.19

The storming of the Legislative Council on July 1 suggests both the strength and the limit of the self-consciously leaderless anti-extradition protests.

The unprecedented vandalization of the Legco building won international attention, but some supporters are disappointed by the focus on violence. In contrast to pictures of disciplined peaceful protests on June 9 and 16, what made it to headlines in print and broadcast media on July 1 were images of protestors breaking into and vandalizing the legislature.


When interviewed by the New York Times, Bloomberg, BBC, and Al Jazeera, I suggested that Hong Kong’s young people were imitating the Sunflower Movement of Taiwan, where all charges against protestors for breaking into the legislature were ultimately dropped. I also explained that the police had set a trap to lure protestors by withdrawing from the building at around 9pm. Nevertheless, it was not easy for protesters to counter the Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s well-planned media strategy. She held a press conference at 4am Hong Kong time so that her condemnation of this “extremely violent” act could make it to international evening news.

The introduction of violence, even though it was limited to physical properties rather than human lives, also risks dividing the opposition. The anti-extradition protests had drawn 1 million to swamp Hong Kong’s business districts on June 9, 2 millions on June 16, and another half a million on July 1. This danger is captured by the New York Times’ July 1st story entitled “Hong Kong Protestors Storm the Legislature, Dividing the Movement.”

It emerged a day later that the dramatic storming act was not as divisive as some had feared. A commentary in the Stand News explains this best: “Even if the movement has not splintered, it still faces condemnation by the mainstream and runs the risk of hollowing out support.” If popular opinion has not turned against the protestors, half of the credit should be attributed to an interview by a Stand News reporter. “(但縱使運動沒有分裂,依然要面對主流的責難,式微的危險。 結果輿論不至逆轉,一半可歸於一個原因──立場姐姐的訪問。)This opinion piece tells of the chaotic process that produced the decision to storm the Legco building by protestors who were on site overnight. It also refers to an interview of a young girl among those who had retreated from the building but decided to return to drag out four protestors who had insisted on staying behind in an act of martyrdom. Her statement that “we are all very scared, but we are more scared that we may lose them tomorrow” brought tears to even conservative supporters.

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Hong Kong’s protesters are not ‘radicals.’ They just want to be heard.

Featuring Hana Meihan Davis, Washington Post, July 3

The images out of Hong Kong on Monday dominated news coverage worldwide: shattered glass, masked demonstrators, rows of riot police.

A small group of protesters broke into the Legislative Council building — and the act was enough to eclipse a record-breaking 550,000-person demonstration just blocks away. Many rushed to denounce the demonstrators for their radicalism. The group had splintered from the annual July 1 march, which this year marked the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to mainland China. But those pointing fingers are missing the point. Instead of echoing China’s language, critics should be asking why so many young Hongkongers felt compelled to take this desperate step in the first place.

Monday needs to be understood as what it was: a group of heartbroken yet determined individuals willing to give up everything for the survival of their home. The majority pro-Beijing legislature — whose job is to pass, amend or repeal proposed laws such as the controversial extradition bill that triggered this new wave of protests — has proved its inability to respond to the will of the people.


A police officer patrols outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on Tuesday. (Vincent Yu/AP)

See also

Hong Kong has nothing left to lose (link)

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How Hong Kong’s protesters harnessed the city to make their case to the world

Featuring Hana Meihan Davis

June 21 at 6:50 PM

On Friday, for the fourth time in two weeks, protesters took to Hong Kong’s streets, responding to the government’s failure to withdraw a controversial extradition bill. Since there was no large space for the protesters to gather, Hongkongers had to be strategic. They peacefully surrounded and shut down the branches of power that most threatened their sovereignty: the legislature and the police.

In a city with limited room that has been defined by three decades of protest, the spaces that do exist are politicized in a way that is seldom seen anywhere else. It is impossible to read urban protest in Hong Kong without also noticing the city’s urban design. These demonstrations are no exception. The city itself has become a player in these protests, folding around demonstrators a in way that conveys their very message: that Hong Kong has a unique, immutable identity.

The images that have emerged from last Sunday’s march — of a “sea of black” filling a six-lane thoroughfare, sidewalks, overhead pedestrian bridges and alleyways — evoke a sense of togetherness that was born in the tight corridors of space winding around high-rises. They reflect the stubbornness that has made Hong Kong’s protesters so resilient to the obstacles in their way and remind viewers of Hong Kong’s distinctness from both China and the Western world.

Hong Kong was not designed to have expansive civic squares or wide boulevards like Washington, Cairo or Beijing. It was certainly not meant to backdrop large occupations. The way Hong Kong grew upward and inward should have impeded political sit-ins and rallies of dissent. Yet the precise physical barriers meant to stifle protest have instead given them even more poignancy.

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Protesters march through the streets in Hong Kong on June 16. (Kin Cheung/AP)

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A leaderless movement? Or leadership decentralized but coordinated?

first appeared in香港-21468/a-leaderless-movement-or-leadership-decentralized-but-coordinated

Both local and international media have hailed the anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong as being leaderless. There seems to be a confusion over being leaderless and having a decentralized network of leaders.

The world is impressed that a leaderless movement could mobilize 1 million to take to the streets on June 9, tens of thousands to blockade the legislative council on June 12, and 2 millions on June 16.

AP Photo

The more radical among the young protestors are cheering the seemingly leaderless nature of this massive show of people power.

During the umbrella movement of 2014, the rowdies criticized the then multigenerational leadership. It was composed of the Occupy Central trio, the HK federation of college students, and Scholarism formed of secondary school students. The joint leadership set up a center stage at the main occupy site in Admiralty. As the occupation dragged on without any results, the movement splintered. Impatient radicals championed the slogan that  “there is no big stage; there are only the people.”

This time around, protestors are self-consciously leaderless. This is not just because they carried over their sentiments from the umbrella movement, but also because any leaders would surely be subject to arrests. All the leaders of the Umbrella movement were convicted with sentences ranging from a couple of months to 16 months.

Appearing leaderless has a sound logic. Advocates of nonviolence do suggest that a successful movement does not need a single leader like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi. Indeed, they warn that any iconic leaders are sure to be jailed or assassinated.

This does not mean that there should be no leaders. The most sustainable movements have a network of smaller groups and layers of leaders. Local leaders are known only to activists but not to the authorities. Even when some leaders are arrested, there are simply too many leaders for the police to identify and imprison all of them.

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Hong Kong’s extradition protests are yet another crisis of the government’s own making

With the extradition bill, Hong Kong finds itself in another of its long parade of crises. If these crises have one thing in common, it is that they are all self-inflicted.

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Hong Kong’s protests are about more than democracy: the Hongkonger identity

featuring Hana Meihan Davis, Washington Post, Global Opinion, June 13, 2019

A sea of dark hair and yellow umbrellas. Plumes of tear gas enveloping the crowds. Policemen armed with rubber bullets and batons. Makeshift barriers of bamboo and brick.

The images emerging from Hong Kong over the past week recall the Umbrella Movement of 2014, but are even more striking. The demonstrations are about more than a controversial extradition bill, more than the threat to Hong Kong’s rule of law, and more even than the fight for human rights. Hong Kong is rallying for its identity.

…what Hongkongers are fighting to protect is the elements of their identity that are unique: a “Chinglishness” shaped by history, a pride that speaks to a certain lack of fear and a sense that being a Hongkonger unifies beyond all else.

…In her elegy “Dear Hong Kong,” Xu Xi writes: “Once upon a time in Hong Kong, ‘national’ meant ‘foreign with Chinese characteristics’. Today, we are Chinese with foreign characteristics.” Ultimately, this means that Hong Kong will not be boxed in by mainland China. As the protests this week and the ongoing fight for human rights have proved, this “Hong Kongness” is a fiery identity that will not be silenced without noise

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Hong Kong’s ‘Last Stand’? How to Keep the Freedom Struggle Alive

First appeared in Globe Post:

International media describe the recent protests in Hong Kong against the extradition bill as the “last stand.” Martin Lee, the father of Hong Kong’s democracy movement, also refers to “the last fight for Hong Kong.”

There was the air of the “last stand” during the clashes between protestors and the police outside of the Legislative Council building on Wednesday, June 12. Some young protestors seemed to set aside their personal safety and possible long jail terms as they dashed at riot police in full gear marching forward to clear protestors.

It also sounded like the “last stand” when protestor after protestor repeated the message that “we don’t think the government will withdraw the extradition bill, but we are not going to let Hong Kong die without a fight.”

However, protestors should make sure that the recent protests do not mean the last stand, but the beginning of another chapter in Hong Kong’s decades-long struggle for democracy and freedom.

Keeping up Pressure

The Civil Human Rights Front called for a general strike so that supporters could turn out at the Legislative Council building on Wednesday. However, the Front requires a permit from the police and the police would not issue another permit for more protests. What should determined protestors do to keep up the pressure? Equally important, given that the police fired rubber bullets as well as tear gas on Wednesday, what could ordinary people do to continue to protest without risking physical injuries and arrests?

Studies of civil disobedience point out that “methods of dispersal,” when protestors launch stay-aways, strikes, and boycotts, can be as effective as “methods of concentration,” when protestors gather at central locations.

The best payoff of mass demonstrations is to demonstrate people power. The 1-million strong demonstration on Sunday, June 9, has already galvanized local and international support. For next steps, protestors should think more about “methods of dispersal.” People on strike do not necessarily have to come to the Legislative Council building to make an impact.

Targeted Economic Boycott

Other worldwide cases illustrate that targeted economic boycott could be just as effective but much safer. This was how blacks in South Africa successfully fought the anti-apartheid struggle.

Hong Kong’s business elites are overwhelmingly pro-Beijing for that is where the money is. But the “follow the money” logic also gives Hong Kong’s humble citizens some ability to sanction tycoons, since these figures make their fortunes not only from lucrative contracts with Beijing but also from the everyday purchases of millions of ordinary Hong Kong citizens. A targeted consumer boycott might make businesses rethink their continued collusion with the government.

During the Umbrella Movement of 2014, protestors circulated a list of pro-establishment businesses for boycott and urged supporters to go to local mom-and-pop shops instead. It was unfortunate that this potentially more effective tactic was not taken seriously then. Occupation of busy streets captured the world’s attention, but it was not sustainable for long because many people had to go back to work or to school.

[See my discussion of targeted boycott during the Umbrella Movement.]

Civil Disobedience

Now that the government is determined to clear protestors to prevent Occupy 2.0, protestors have to find other civil disobedience tactics to keep the momentum. Gene Sharp, the architect of nonviolent action, listed 198 noncooperation methods.

The general strike could be expanded. It could be more effective if civil servants can be convinced to join. It would be particularly helpful if individual police officers could be persuaded by relatives and friends to not fire at protestors. Protestors themselves could also update the list of pro-establishment businesses for targeted boycott and pro-democracy businesses for targeted support.

When young people feel that there are alternative nonviolent methods to keep the fire burning, they do not have to hurl bottles and barricades at the police, which only gives the government the perfect excuse to crack down harder. It is also bad optics when international media show pictures of clashes rather than disciplined people power.

The current fight against the extradition bill does not have to be the “last stand” if protestors find alternative methods of civil disobedience to keep up the pressure.

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The proposed extradition law could open the door to extradition to China

Originally appeared in Monkey Cage, Washington Post, May 11, 2019

By Michael C. Davis

Debate over Hong Kong’s proposed extradition law devolves into a scuffle in the legislative council

This law could open the door to extradition to China, and that’s the problem.
[source; Globe and Mail; see also HKFP]

Fights broke out Saturday in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong as lawmakers debated an extradition measure that would allow transfer of criminal offenders to face charges in mainland China.

On its face, the proposed amendment to Hong Kong’s Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance would allow ad hoc extradition to any jurisdiction where Hong Kong lacks an extradition agreement, something the government claims that it is routine practice. Hong Kong has mutual extradition agreements with 20 jurisdictions and provides legal assistance to 32 others.

However, local and foreign rights lawyers are concerned that the measure would include extradition to mainland China. Legal expertsspeculate Beijing hopes to open the door to extradite corrupt Chinese officials who flee to Hong Kong, as well as perhaps catching local activists in the dragnet.

The government in arguing for the measure has cited the recent case of Tong-Kai Chan, who fled to Hong Kong after killing his girlfriend in Taiwan over an alleged affair, and could go free if not extradited to Taiwan. But it’s not clear why this one case would justify the drastic overhaul.

The Taiwan Mainland Affairs Counsel, however, has indicated that Taiwan would not accept transfer of Chan to Taiwan under this legislation because of the wider risk of extradition to the mainland for its citizens in Hong Kong.

In a complex legislative maneuver, to ensure the measure passes, the pro-Beijing majority in the Hong Kong council usurped the authority of the pan-democratic member presiding over the bills committee. This maneuver and the pro-establishment effort to ram the bill through set the stage for Saturday’s brawl.

The bill raises a number of concerns:

1. The bill undercuts the protection of Hong Kong’s rule of law 

The “one country, two systems” framework for Hong Kong’s return to China in June 1997 recognized that these two legal systems have a huge gap in protection of human rights and the rule of law. Beijing guaranteed Hong Kong would have a high degree of autonomy — including human rights and rule of law protections that do not exist in Chinese laws. The only mainland laws that apply in Hong Kong are a handful of laws added to Annex III of the Hong Kong Basic Law addressing issues such as national symbols, nationality, diplomacy and sea boundaries.

These legal gaps remain largely in place two decades later, and the two governments thus far have failed to reach an extradition agreement. The mainland system often ignores human rights and the rule of law, and includes a number of laws that restrict basic freedoms. Global rankings for freedom and the rule of law demonstrate the difference: Hong Kong ranked 16 and China 82 out of 116 countries on rule of law, for instance.

The nonpartisan legal adviser to the Legislative Council, a career government servant, has taken the unusual step of openly raising these concerns. In his view, extradition to the mainland should require a special agreement that more clearly addresses Hong Kong concerns with basic freedoms and due process of law.

2. The proposed bill fails to exclude the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China

A prominent member of Beijing’s Basic Law Committee, Professor Albert Chen of the University of Hong Kong, points out that most jurisdictions under extradition agreements typically do not extradite their own citizens. The possibility of extradition to the mainland especially worries many Hong Kong residents.

The extradition proposal has already caused one local resident at risk to flee Hong Kong. In late 2015, bookseller Wing-kee Lam was arrested while visiting neighboring Shenzhen, China. Months later, Chinese officials sent him back to Hong Kong, ostensibly to collect evidence. But Lam then refused to return to the mainland. He recently moved to Taiwan, claiming it would no longer be safe for him in Hong Kong.

3. The Hong Kong government has failed to defend the territory’s autonomy

The government claims that the chief executive would serve as a gatekeeper to review requests for extradition to the mainland. But a Beijing-friendly Election Committee chooses Hong Kong’s chief executive, making the person in this role vulnerable to pressure from Beijing. In 2005, when Beijing disapproved the performance of Hong Kong’s first chief executive after the handover, he effectively had to resign. To many in Hong Kong, the Beijing liaison office in the Western district has undue influence on what goes on in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government has argued that it would allow extradition only in cases where the individual’s basic human rights were protected, and the decision would be subject to judicial review. Chen, however, noted that this puts Hong Kong courts “in a difficult and invidious position.” One worry, perhaps, is that the court may come under simultaneous pressure in the same case from both Beijing and the Hong Kong government.

Despite its commitment to defend the autonomy promised under the “one country, two systems” framework, the Hong Kong government has a history of enabling interference from Beijing. In other recent cases, the Hong Kong government has prosecuted protesters, expelled pro-democracy legislators and banned political parties — actions many in Hong Kong see as moves on Beijing’s behalf.

This bill has also generated much international concern. Foreign governments have recognized Hong Kong as a separate territory for customs and trade since 1997, distinct from mainland China. The U.S. provides for such recognition under Hong Kong Policy Act, for instance. The recent U.S. State Department report on human rights in Hong Kong raised concerns about the erosion of basic freedoms.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission also weighed in this past week to argue that “The extradition bill could pose significant risk to U.S. national security and economic interests in the territory,” allowing “Beijing to pressure the Hong Kong government to extradite U.S. citizens under false pretenses.” The same Commission in its 2018 report had worried that Beijing interference had endangered autonomy, calling Hong Kong’s distinct trading status into question.

In a recent press interview, the U.S. consul general in Hong Kong suggested that this extradition legislation will only intensify U.S. doubts about the continued viability of Hong Kong’s special status under the Hong Kong Policy Act.

Michael C. Davis is a professor of law and international affairs at Jindal Global University and currently a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, where he is affiliated with the Asia Program and the Kissinger Institute. Formerly a professor at the University of Hong Kong, he has written on Hong Kong and Asia for the Journal of Democracy

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The end of the umbrella movement but the beginning of a new chapter in Hong Kong’s democracy movement

Postscript: The 1-million strong protest on June 9 and the 2-million strong protest on June 17 have proven this observation.

Nine core leaders of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement were convicted on April 9 and sentenced on April 24. This last batch of prosecutions is widely seen to mark the end of the city’s largest civic disobedience in history. Yet, the closure of one chapter only leads to the beginning of another chapter in Hong Kong’s long walk to democracy.


Originally appeared as “There’s a new chapter in Hong Kong’s struggle for democracy and autonomy,” Monkey Cage post, Washington Post, May 2, 2019 (

What happened to the Umbrella Movement leaders? And what is Beijing trying to do? By Victoria Tin-bor Hui

On April 9, a Hong Kong district court convicted nine core leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement of conspiracy to commit public nuisance. On April 24, the court handed down prison sentences of up to 16 months.

To some in Hong Kong, this batch of prosecutions marks the end of the city’s largest demonstration of civil disobedience. Others see a further chapter opening in Hong Kong’s struggle for freedom and democracy, as new attacks emerge on promises of political autonomy guaranteed in the 1986 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.

Here’s a look at the political fallout since the Umbrella Movement.

1. Who are the “Occupy Nine?”

The accused “Occupy Nine” include the trio who started the “Occupy Central with Love and Peace” movement to demand genuine universal suffrage in choosing Hong Kong’s chief executive: Hong Kong University law professor Benny Yiu-ting Tai, Chinese University sociology professor Kin-man Chan and the Rev. Yiu-ming Chu.

Six others — lawmakers Tanya Chan and Ka-chun Shiu, political leaders Raphael Wong and Wing-tat Lee, and student leaders Sau-yin Cheung and Yiu-wa Chung — joined the center stage when “Occupy Central” morphed into the “Umbrella Movement.”

Foreign correspondents came up with the name when protesters opened yellow umbrellas to shield themselves from police tear gas and pepper spray on Sept. 28, 2014. Protesters then occupied major thoroughfares in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mongkok for 79 days, until early December 2014.

Citing “serious” obstruction and the “extensive” duration of the protests, the government charged members of the group with various crimes: conspiracy to cause public nuisance; inciting others to cause public nuisance; and inciting people to incite others to cause public nuisance.

The original trio received 16-month jail terms. Tai and Chan were imprisoned immediately, but Chu’s sentence was suspended for two years, in recognition of his age and his lifetime of public service. Legislator Shiu and activist Wong received eight-month terms and Tanya Chan’s case is on hold, pending treatment for a brain tumor. The others received suspended sentences or community service.

2. The aftermath of the Umbrella Movement

Foreign diplomats and NGOs like Amnesty International voiced concerns related to Hong Kong’s freedoms of speech and assembly. In addition to the “Occupy Nine” sentencing, there have been other examples of measures to erode the rule of law in Hong Kong.

In early April, the Hong Kong government proposed to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance to allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. Critics are worried: China’s Communist Party is above the law, and those arrested in China are often tortured and forced to make televised confessions.

This happened to Wing-kee Lam, one of five Hong Kong booksellers Chinese officials seized in 2015 for selling gossipy books about China’s leaders. In 2016, mainland security officers escorted him back to Hong Kong to retrieve subscribers’ data — and he then refused to return to China. Fearing the pending extradition law, Lam fled to Taiwan on April 26.

In September 2018, the Hong Kong government rolled back a provision of Hong Kong’s Basic Law by ceding to mainland jurisdictionparts of the West Kowloon high-speed railway terminal. Mainland officials later arrested a Hong Kong permanent resident who was in the mainland area of the station, alleging he was involved in a property case in Shenzhen, China.

Last fall, the Hong Kong government banned the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party. Chief Executive Carrie Lam submitted a report to Beijing when Chinese officials requested details. Many in Hong Kong criticized this move as contradicting the Basic Law promise that Hong Kong would run its own internal affairs. The Hong Kong government also refused to renew the visa of Financial Timesreporter Victor Millet, who had hosted a talk by the party’s founder Andy Chan at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

The government also disqualified six pro-democracy legislators who had won seats in the 2016 elections to the Legislative Council (LegCo). They were accused of improper language in their oath of office. To make sure that local judges had no choice but to grant the government’s disqualification requests, Beijing issued a binding interpretation of the Basic Law.

With the disqualifications, LegCo has become a rubber stamp for Lam, the chief executive, to push through any budget requests or legal measures, including the extradition amendments.

3. Hong Kong’s struggle for autonomy will likely continue

Beijing and Hong Kong officials may have hoped to deter further activism with the above measures. Yet the sentencing of university professors and young activists may be backfiring. In the aftermath of the Umbrella Movement, going to jail has become a badge of honor.

When jailed leaders called for a mass demonstration against the extradition law on April 28, 130,000 protesters turned out.

In response to the charges that the “Occupy Nine” incited nuisance, supporters declared on social media and wore T-shirts with the hashtag “I was not incited.” A Chinese University study estimates that 1.2 million people out of a population of 7.2 million participated at various times and in various forms in these protests — it would be a high order to incite that many people. Indeed, journalism scholars Francis L.F. Lee and Joseph M. Chan report that it was the police tear gas that motivated nearly 60 percent of those they surveyed to join the movement.

It’s likely the convicted leaders and their supporters won’t simply give up. In their view, the promise of “one country, two systems” has become “one country, 1.5 systems.” They are fighting for their own future.

The government may have inadvertently forged unity among opposition leaders by putting them in the same courtroom docks. Traditional democrats, the Occupy Central trio, student leaders and radical activists had bitter disagreements during and after the Occupy campaign. Now that they share the same experience of mass arrests, court trials and imprisonment, they have acquired a new sense of common cause.


When young people and esteemed professors (including the Yale-trained Sociologist Kin-man Chan who is well-known for his work on civil society in China) are handcuffed and imprisoned for preaching nonviolent civil disobedience, the injustices are obvious. In response to the charges that the “Occupy Nine” incited nuisance, supporters declare that “I was not incited to occupy.”

D46m_gYUEAApghY [source]

Activists believe that history will absolve them. This sentiment is reflected in the banners that supporters made for the “Occupy Nine.” One banner is adopted from what the early-twentieth century intellectual Duxiu Chen wrote to his friend who was jailed by the then suppressive Nationalist Party: “My conduct has nothing shameful; the way of Heaven will shine” (行無愧怍天道昭昭). The second banner is taken from Tang dynasty poet Du Fu who was defending 4 reformed-minded colleagues: “[Others’ ridicules will not affect how your fame] will flow like rivers for ten thousand generations”  (不廢江河萬古流).





Joshua Wong, another young student leader who has been in and out of jail, decries that the “one country, two systems” model has been diminished to “one country, 1.5 systems.”

It is sometimes argued that all is well in Hong Kong, no less because Beijing has not sent in the tanks to quell dissent. But it is in fact a genius stroke to send in the bullet train rather than the bullet. While the latter is certain to cause alarm, the former has achieved what Hongkongers dub “cooking a frog in warm water.” To Hong Kong people, it is little comfort that the city is still freer than the rest of China when the rule-of-law firewall between China and Hong Kongis breaking down.




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Beijing May Rein in Hong Kong, but Cannot Impose ‘Umbrella Amnesia’

[first appeared on Global Post]

“This trial is the final showdown between memory and amnesia,” declared Ka-chun Shiu, one of the “Occupy Central Nine” who are put on trial this week for their leadership roles in the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong in 2014.

This belated trial of Occupy leaders four years later is intended to mark the beginning of the end of the Umbrella Movement. The nine are variously charged for conspiracy to cause public nuisance, inciting others to cause public nuisance, and inciting people to incite others to cause public nuisance. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. The accused – including the Occupy Central’s original trio Benny Yiu-ting Tai, Kin-man Chan, and Reverend Yiu-ming Chu, student leaders Tommy Sau-yin Cheung and Eason Yiu-wa Chung, lawmakers Tanya Chan and Ka-chun Shiu, and political leaders Raphael Ho-ming Wong and Wing-tat Lee — are widely expected to be convicted and jailed.

A Beijing representative, Chen Zuoer, complained in November 2016: “The price of committing an offence was too low in some situations in Hong Kong… Taking the Occupy Movement as an example, how many movement leaders were brought to the court up until now? Why were they not in the court?” In two-years’ time, the Hong Kong government is finishing up its assignments.

Beijing hopes to finally stifle Hong Kong’s democracy movement by jailing pro-democracy leaders and disqualifying them for running for public offices. However, Beijing’s heavy hands can only have at most short-term effects because it cannot impose amnesia on Hong Kong.

It is often said that dictators can lock up physical bodies, but not individual thoughts. Beijing has defied this expectation after the Tiananmen crackdown of 1989. Today’s mainland Chinese either do not know about Tiananmen or defend repressive measures as necessary evils that have contributed to China’s millennial rise. Journalist Louisa Lim dubs today’s China “the People’s Republic of Amnesia.”

Beijing officials have repeatedly lamented that the sovereignty of Hong Kong has been duly returned but the hearts of Hong Kong people have not. Beijing has deployed the same two-pronged policy to impose Umbrella amnesia: while repression is intended to silence pro-democracy forces, economic growth and “patriotic education” are hoped to win over the hearts and minds of the majority.

Yet, just as Hong Kong people have insisted on “never forgetting” Tiananmen for nearly three decades, they will likewise never fall for the Umbrella amnesia.

Overseas parliamentarians and international NGOs call on the Hong Kong government to drop the charges against the “Occupy Central Nine” to demonstrate to the world that Beijing’s promised policy of the rule of law under the “one country, two systems” model is still alive and well. There is little chance that Hong Kong’s hand-picked government would heed this advice. If Hong Kong’s judges (some are still willing to stand up for judicial independence) issue any verdicts and sentences not to Beijing’s liking, the Department of Justice will surely appeal for heavier sentences — as it did with younger Umbrella Movement leaders last year. Most importantly, the central government has the last resort of issuing a decision to stamp its will on local courts – as it did to disqualify “localist” legislators two years ago.

Thus, the only uncertainty about this trial is the length of the jail sentences.

If Beijing wishes to repress the calls for democracy with show trials and heavy jail terms, it will likely be disappointed. Precisely because so many pro-democracy leaders are persecuted for nonviolent civil protest, going to jail has become a badge of honor. Experiences around the world show that the prison serves only to harden opposition leaders.

If Beijing also hopes to buy off the majority by promoting economic growth and increasing housing and other social welfare benefits, it will see only limited results. While this sugar coating has been massively effective in binding mainland Chinese to the Chinese Communist Party, it has failed to infest the Tiananmen amnesia in Hong Kong and will not create a new Umbrella amnesia.

If Beijing intends to make Hong Kong people love the motherland with “patriotic education,” it will only intensify anti-Beijing sentiments. It was the introduction of “national education” in 2012 that politicized teenagers such as Joshua Wong who later ignited the Umbrella Movement in 2014.

The more Beijing emphasizes “one country” over “two systems,” therefore, the more Hong Kong people reject its campaigns to hypnotize them into amnesia.

Last week, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended a review of the “US treatment of Hong Kong and China as separate customs areas.” The Hong Kong government responded by insisting on Hong Kong’s status as a separate customs territory.

If Hong Kong remains different than other Chinese cities these days, it is not because it still enjoys the promised “high degree of autonomy,” but because Beijing cannot impose amnesia on Hong Kong people as it can on mainland Chinese.


See also: Beijing’s plan to rein in HK almost complete and 20 years ago, China promised Hong Kong ‘1 country, 2 systems.’ So much for promises.

The Occupy Central Nine [source]

Ka-chun Shiu [source]

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Beijing’s Plan To Rein In HK Almost Complete

Originally appeared at VOHK (, republished at East Asia Forum (, quoted by Quartz (
Three young student leaders of the Umbrella Movement put to jail.Three young student leaders of the Umbrella Movement put to jail.

By Victoria Hui –

Storms have taken over Hong Kong in recent weeks: the disqualification of four more legislators on July 14, the jailing of 13 land rights activists on August 15, the additional sentencing of 3 student leaders of the Umbrella Movement on August 17, and the cessation to mainland authorities of jurisdiction in the West Kowloon train station by next year.

We knew that the storms were coming. Still, we are shaken by the severity. Beijing is increasingly brazen about violating the “one country, two systems” model and replacing it with de facto direct rule.

In the aftermath of the Umbrella Movement in December 2014, Chen Zuoer, the president of Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies and the former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, vowed to rein in “Hong Kong’s governance”. He declared a struggle against all the societal forces behind the protest, “from the street to the law courts, to the Legislative Council, to inside the government, and to universities and secondary schools, etc.” (“街頭轉到了法庭,轉到了立法會,轉到了政府內部,轉到了中學大學等”).

By August 17, 2017, he could declare “mission accomplished.”

The Umbrella Movement was fueled by anger over the erosion of Hong Kong’s much cherished freedoms – the rule of law, the independent judiciary, the impartial police, the free press, and the neutral civil service.

The rallying cry of the movement, “we want genuine universal suffrage,” did not come into fruition.

If Hong Kong’s protestors saw that they could not hold on to freedoms without democracy, Beijing’s officials seemed to learn that they should stifle freedoms if they want to deny democracy. Chen thus called for an all-out struggle against all pillars of Hong Kong’s freedoms. (See The “freedom without democracy model” is broken.)

It was the easiest to control the government. All it took was to anoint the ‘trusted’ Carrie Lam as the new Chief Executive. According to Zhang Xiaoming, chief of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, the Chief Executive has “overriding power” over not just the executive, but also the legislative and judicial branches, seemingly putting the chief executive above the law. The Chief Executive’s overwhelming authority on appointments and promotions has then made it easy to manage not just the civil service and the police, but also the department of justice and the courts.

HKU alumni protest against management.

To control universities, the former Chief Executive C. Y. Leung stacked university councils with pro-regime figures. The loyal councilors would then duly appoint the right candidates to top positions. Thus, Johannes Chan was denied promotion as a pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Hong Kong, and Rocky Tuan was appointed as the new Vice Chancellor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

To control the legislature, the government first barred the independence advocate Edward Leung from running in the election at all. To get rid of two other localists, Yau Wai-ching and Leung Chung-hang of Youngspiration, who managed to slip through, C. Y. Leung asked the court to bar them from re-taking their oath. The duo had displayed a “Hong Kong is not China” flag during their swearing-in ceremony in October.

Before the court issued a verdict, Beijing issued an interpretation of the Basic Law which was used to retroactively disqualify any legislator-elect who made revisions or additions to the formal oath. The intervention was a sign of how much Beijing distrusted Hong Kong courts at the time. Faced with a strident and binding Beijing interpretation, the court fully complied with Beijing’s intention to expel the first two opposition legislators from the Legislative Council.

The department of justice sought to disqualify four more legislators: Democracy Groundwork’s Lau Siu-lai, Demosisto’s Nathan Law, the League of Social Democrats’ Leung Kwok-hung (Long Hair) and architectural sector lawmaker Edward Yiu. With Beijing’s wishes so clearly laid out, the court issued the desired verdict with retroactive effect going back to the day of swearing-in.

Has Beijing now reined in the last independent branch of government – the traditionally staunchly independent Hong Kong courts? (See more on Judge Yeung below.) It would be a good research topic to examine the impact of the Chief Executive’s “overriding power” over judges. It is worth noting that, in November 2016, Chen Zuoer sounded an unmistakable complaint about judges in a closed-door meeting. He was quoted to have said: “The price of committing an offence was too low in some situations in Hong Kong… Taking the Occupy Movement as an example, how many movement leaders were brought to the court up until now? Why were they not in the court?”

13 land activists sentenced to jail.

The 2014 White Paper had already admonished courts to guard national security. Throughout 2015 and 2016, pro-regime voices repeatedly complained that judges released the majority of protest-related defendants or gave very lenient sentences to the convicted few. It is true that the common law has historically been sensitive to the free speech rights of public order defendants.

It was in this context that the Department of Justice appealed against the light sentences of community service to 13 land rights protestors who had stormed into the legislative council building in June 2014, and 3 student leaders who had clambered over the fence set up to close off the “Civic Square” in August 2014. By August 2017, the Court of Appeal could be trusted to comply with the government’s wishes. It handed down jail terms of 8 to 13 months in the former case and 6 to 8 months in the latter case. While the land rights case involves less known activists, the “civic square” case includes the well-known former student leaders Joshua Wong, Nathan Law (also one of the disqualified legislators), and Alex Chow, who were instrumental in sparking the Umbrella Movement.  (In translation: The Occupy sentence review – why Hong Kong’s appeal court jailed Joshua Wong, Nathan Law & Alex Chow)


There will surely be more prison sentences for other political cases in pending. (See here for a list of concluded and pending umbrella-related cases.)

Chen Zuoer has thus splendidly accomplished the goal of striking down pro-democracy forces in a short span of only two and a half years.

Somehow, for Beijing, it is not enough to avert democracy and stifle freedoms in order to fully rein in Hong Kong. The planned West Kowloon railway station will give final jurisdiction to mainland authorities. Hong Kong people are told that this is a done deal with no room for negotiation over better arrangements that would not violate Hong Kong’s autonomy.

With the “one country, two systems” model gone 30 years ahead of schedule, Hong Kong is fast becoming just another ‘mainland’ Chinese city. When the Chinese trains roll into West Kowloon under mainland jurisdiction in Fall 2018, Hong Kong will become a part of the greater Shenzhen.

Beijing has broken the promises of “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” under “a high degree of autonomy” for 50 years.

The one promise that Beijing has kept is that the PLA would not fire a shot in Hong Kong. It is a genius stroke to send in the train instead of the bullet.

What keeps Hong Kong distinct is what cannot be locked up: the yearning for democracy and freedoms and the commitment to fight for them among the city’s youngest.

Victoria Hui is Associate Professor in Political Science, University of Notre Dame.

Photos: CitizenNews pictures



See also my related commentaries


20 years ago, China promised Hong Kong ‘1 country, 2 systems.’ So much for promises. (Washington Post)

What the current political storm spells for Hong Kong’s freedoms (HKFP)

打壓不會輕易落幕 好戲在後頭 (The struggle to rein in HK’s freedom is not over and more is yet to come) (Ming Pao)

沒有民主, 香港怎能在「風雨中抱緊自由」(“Without Democracy, How Could Hong Kong Embrace Freedom in the Storms )? (BBC Chinese)


Judge Yeung, one of the judges on the Court of Appeal, was seen hanging out with the Chief Executive, the Minister of Justice, a representative of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, and anti-umbrella lawyers at a X’mas party in 2015. (判刑法官曾出席反佔中組織活動)





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When HK’s most committed young people lose freedom for fighting for freedom, going to jail becomes an honor

When HK’s most committed young people lose freedom for fighting for freedom, we know that HK’s long-standing “freedom without democracy” model is dead.

When lower courts mete out community service but government prosecutors appeal to give harsh jail terms to young activists, we know that the judiciary is not independent and that the executive now exerts overwhelming influence on judges.

Student leaders who started the Umbrella Movement are given 6 to 8 months of jail terms after a government appeal. Government prosecutors said that the attempt to storm the civic square deserved jail terms rather than just community service. At a public rally last night, they urged supporters to keep on with the fight while they still have freedom. (In Pictures: Continue fighting for Hong Kong if we are jailed, says Joshua Wong as democracy activists face prison)20863382_1383429835102600_5962623827713374268_o


Harsher sentences were handed down to thirteen protestors convicted of storming the legislative council in 2014 over a development project in northeastern New Territories. Protestors said the project had more to do with government-developer collusion than genuine development. A lower court took into account their “noble causes” and gave them community service. Government prosecutors appealed and the Court of Appeal complied, giving jail terms of between 8 and 13 months.  (Protesters who stormed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council given jail terms after prosecutors pushed for tougher sentences)



In addition, the courts have also given harsh multi-year sentences to protestors convicted of throwing stones and bottles at police officers during the “fishball riots.”

What happens when a repressive regime sends the most committed young people to jail in large numbers? Going to jail is no longer a shame but an honor. When we look around at other movements around the world, the prison is like a political boot camp, toughening and radicalizing young people who will come out more determined than ever.

The Court of Appeal seems to have an extreme definition of “violence,” treating the students’ efforts to 重奪/seize/take back civic square counts as violence (which had been fenced in only in the summer before the outbreak of the umbrella movement). There is a deep concern that any bodily contact with the police, esp. if the protester is bigger and the police officer is skinny, would count as violence in the future. (上訴庭判詞保守 陳文敏質疑「暴力」定義推到盡)



The producer of a documentary on the 1967 riots (Vanished Archives) is drawing parallels between the British colonial government’s repression of leftwing protestors then and the Beijing/HK government’s repression of pro-democracy protestors today. (當政治凌駕法律    重看「六七暴動」案例)

It would be a mistake to think that the latest wave of repressive sentences would silence the youthful generation.

The parents of the convicted write open letters saying that they are proud to have such publicly spirited children.

示威判囚被質疑司法成了政治工具 入獄年青人父母以子女為榮


周永康母聞判激動落淚 父:我好驕傲

何潔泓:不對自己的理念有任何悔意;  何潔泓遭囚13月 母深夜fb感言:你是我的驕傲,你沒有錯


黃浩銘爸爸:我有你呢個仔 我真係感覺一生嘅榮幸


See also

Land Justice Alliance/土地正義聯盟



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Why the muted outrage? The danger of ‘demobilization’

The “one country, two systems” model is finally killed by the disqualification of four more legislators and the application of mainland laws when the HK section of the high speed railway opens.

Since last week, pro-democracy voices have been wondering why the public responses have been so mute.

This is not because there is no public outrage. The problem is that HK politics has entered the phase of demobilization.

Demobilization is common in contentious politics. What the Umbrella Movement achieved was unprecedented mobilization of hitherto unconcerned citizens. What the perception of failure has created is the opposite — demobilization of once mobilized individuals and groups. Like other cases around the world, demobilization has come with bitter infighting, defection, disillusion, and heightened repression. In the aftermath of the umbrella movement, different opposition groups have bitterly blamed one another for the perceived failure. (Tilly and Tarrow, Contentious Politics, pp. 35, 122, 144)

Once a movement has entered the phase of demobilization, it becomes very difficult to restart mobilization. HK people were motivated to join the umbrella movement then because they were hopeful that people power could change politics — they could cite the successful cases of massive protests bringing down Art. 23 legislation in 2003 and national education in 2012. Now, people are pessimistic because Beijing is dictating everything and is willing to issue new decisions whenever things do not go its way. Thus, just when mass protests are more necessary than before, people are not taking the time  to fight a seemingly lost cause. (See, e.g., 香港還有希望嗎?)

What to do? The most important lesson from other cases is: Don’t give up.
Here are lessons from other movements:
  • Lesson 1: Plan a strategy
  • Lesson 2: Overcome atomization and fear and futility; create unity; mobilize broad participation
  • Lesson 3: Target pillars of support; create cracks in the regime
  • Lesson 4: Resist violence
  • Lesson 5: let regime repression backfire
  • Lesson 6: Don’t give up! You haven’t lost if you haven’t given up.

Contentious politics is, after all, the art of the impossible. (See related posts: forceful nonviolencefallacy; hunger strike)

We know that the disqualified legislators will keep fighting on:





The rest of us could turn to everyday forms of resistance under tightening domination. (See James Scott’s Weapons of the Weak):

  • doing what everyone is best at and upholding professional values in our daily routines — after all, if the civil service still maintains some semblance of neutrality and the media still show signs of press freedom only because many individuals have insisted on professionalism in their daily jobs
  • donate to the disqualified legislators and vote for them and their allies in by-elections
  • support civic groups and media organizations that uphold HK values
  • buy from mom-and-pop shops instead of chains or businesses controlled by pro-Beijing forces — see  boycott ; 撐小店大聯盟
  • help out each other in daily lives to strengthen the sense of civic community and counter the regime’s divide-and-rule efforts
  • do whatever one can think of to live in truth and to sustain HK’s core values



【守護公義基金】 恒生銀行 788-006039-001



Long Hair:  支持社民連

姚松炎 Edward Yiu

Observations of the muted outrage:

Joseph Zen: Why didn’t people come out in force? (那何市民沒有成群出來,作出更強烈的抗議)

連番廢黜議員 集會人數黯然連番廢黜議員-集會人數黯然/






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R.I.P. ‘one country, two systems’ — if mainland law applies along the high speed railway

It is reported that the HK government will formally announce next Tue. that it will lease an area inside the West Kowloon Terminus to mainland authorities where mainland laws are applied.

The arrangement is reminiscent of colonial-era extraterritorial concessions .

Pro-democracy voices have widely decried the proposal for blatantly violating the Basic Law.

Ronny Tong, once a democrat but now serves on the Executive Council, said that “It is stated very clearly in Article 18 that mainland laws cannot be implemented on Hong Kong land… unless you put [the laws] in Annex III,” adding that it would be even more worrisome if mainland laws become Hong Kong laws through Annex III. (See Mainland enclave in Express Link station ‘not compatible with Basic Law,’ says Exco member)

Alan Leong, a Civic Party veteran, believed that “If you mourn Liu Xiaobo, ask for release of Liu Xia [on the train], I am sure you will be arrested.” In response, Priscilla Leung, a pro-government politician, said the public should not speak of political issues on the train. (See the same story)

Joshua Wong is worried that mainland security officials would then be able to snatch dissidents and lock them up under mainland laws right at the heart of HK. He was referring to the awkward smuggling of the book seller Lee Bo across the border on mainland boats last year.

We should recall that Hong Kong’s post-handover generation first came of age when they mobilized to stop the plan to build the rail link in 2010, with the much celebrated “satyagraha walk.” See Hong Kong protesters fail to halt bullet-train link from Chinese mainland.



The satyagraha protest/苦行反高鐵


More analyses:

‘Rail link plan will rob HK of its protection’

Partition layout of Express Rail Link West Kowloon Terminus customised according to mainland authorities

今天割地 明天還有什麼不可割讓!

Badiucao’s cartoon:




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R.I.P. the rule of law with disqualification of legislators

As of June 30-July 1, Martin Lee, dubbed the father of Hong Kong’s democracy movement, still remarked that the rule of law was under assault but still standing strong.

Today, democrats mourned the death of the rule of law after the court disqualified 4 legislators with retroactive effect to the day that they first took the oath on October 12, 2016.

The four disqualified legislators are Democracy Groundwork’s Lau Siu-lai, Demosisto’s Nathan Law, the League of Social Democrats’ Leung Kwok-hung (Long Hair) and architectural sector lawmaker Edward Yiu.


This ruling came after the court barred two legislators-elect, Sixtus Baggio LEUNG Chung-hang and YAU Wai-ching, from re-taking their oaths last Nov. The duo had displayed a “Hong Kong is not China” flag during their initial swearing-in ceremony.

What is at stake?

The rule of law: 1) Beijing issued an interpretation of the Basic Law in November 2016 right before the conclusion of judicial proceedings re: Leung and Yau. The interpretation was seen as direct interference with the judiciary’s independence. 2) Today’s ruling follows the NPCSC decision and is retroactive to the day when the 4 legislators first took the oath on Oct. 12, 2016. Retroactivity fundamentally violates the rule of law. 3) In following the NPCSC decision, the court also undid the electoral choices of HK people who cast their votes for these disqualified legislators.

Legislative oversight of executive actions: The regime’s plan is to deprive the minority pro-democracy legislators of their veto power. The government is bound to hold by-elections to fill vacated seats. If there is only one seat per district in the by-elections, the pan-dems would win, as what happened in the New Territories East by-election last year. However, the disqualification of 5 directly elected legislators (and one chosen from a functional constituency) by now means that some districts will have two vacated seats. Given their outsized resources and mobilization capabilities, the pro-establishment camp expects to win the second seat. This would eliminate the democrats’ veto power for the rest of the term, allowing the regime to change the rules of the game, push through the co-location of customs on the high-speed railway line (news suggests that Beijing will hold sovereignty over the tracks and platforms on HK territory), and most likely the Article 23 national security bill.

Pro-democracy legislators complained that the regime has declared a war on HK’s electors and vowed to “end business as usual” at the legislature.

Four more Hong Kong lawmakers disqualified over oath-taking controversy, tipping Legco balance of power

Disqualifications mean voters can no longer monitor the government, ousted lawmaker says

Democracy protesters thought they were shielded by the justice system — until Beijing turned it against them

Govt ‘declaring war’ on HK people: opposition

Protest against disqualification of lawmakers



Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 12.07.15 AM




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RIP Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo’s charter 2008 is, in essence, a blueprint to move China closer to the HK system. Beijing has killed the “one country, two systems” model along with Liu XB.

Yet, one should never forget that “you can’t kill an idea!

See Perry Link’s translation of the Charter 08. See also “I have no enemies“.

My tribute to Liu XB: China’s dream for constitutionalism is as old as Chinese history (Chapter 1: The China Dream: Revival of What Historical Greatness? (277 KB)

Picture: Hong Kong people paid respect to Liu outside Beijing’s Liaison Office in the Western District immediately after the news of his death.


Hundreds gather at vigil in Hong Kong to mourn Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo

Memory of Liu Xiaobo 15 July (Saturday) 7 pm,From Chater Garden, Central District Hong Kong to Liaison Office, Western District Hong Kong

In Pictures: Hongkongers march through city centre in memory of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo


The empty Nobel chair will never be filled (source: Heiko Junge/AFP/Getty Images):


China’s conscience: Liu Xiaobo’s death holds a message for China


Liu Xiaobo artwork hits world streets in latest form of protest; Badiucao’s “Sea you Liu Xiaobo”


China says Taiwan remarks on dissident Liu ‘very dangerous

How the HK press covers Liu’s death: News of Liu Xiaobo’s death buried in Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing papers

(source of visual )


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Protests vs celebrations on the HKSAR’s 20th anniversary

A short version is posted on Washington Post’s Monkey Cage newsletter:

20 years ago, China promised Hong Kong ‘1 country, 2 systems.’ So much for promises.

See also

Why we fight for Hong Kong’s freedoms

Joshua Wong Hong Kong’s youth must fight for a free future: The real question is what happens in 2047, when ‘one country, two systems’ expires

Pomp & protests during Xi Jinping’s visit

Hong Kong handover: The protest symbols China’s scared of

Incoming leader Carrie Lam leads handover anniversary flag-raising while police remove protesters

Hong Kong protesters arrested for democracy protest ahead of Xi’s visit

Black bauhinia: Activists cover handover monument in protest of China President’s Hong Kong visit

Joshua Wong was the teenage face of the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong 3 years ago. During the Chinese president’s visit, he led another pro-democracy protest.


The extended version:

When Beijing and Hong Kong officials celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover with fireworks and fanfare on July 1, 2017, many citizens will mourn the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy in street protests.

Why are there such contrasting sentiments in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)?

  1. What has happened in Hong Kong since the handover in 1997?

To understand Hong Kong’s uneasy relations with Beijing today, we should begin with the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984.

When London and Beijing announced the Sino-British Joint Declaration regarding the future of Hong Kong in 1984, they promised the “one country, two systems” model to insulate Hong Kong from mainland China with “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” under “a high degree of autonomy.”

The Joint Declaration came as a relief to deeply worried Hong Kong people, many of whom had fled from political turmoil in mainland China. The drawn-out negotiations had created bank runs and rapid depreciation of the Hong Kong dollar. To reassure Hong Kong people, Beijing put on a charm offensive to win over hearts and minds, promising that there would be “horse-racing as usual, dancing as usual” after the transfer of sovereignty. (See Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong ‘no longer has any realistic meaning’, says Chinese Foreign Ministry; China Dismissal of U.K. Treaty Renews Doubts About Its Word; We still recognise Hong Kong treaty as legally binding but Britain cannot interfere, Beijing official maintains)

The Tiananmen movement of 1989 fundamentally altered Beijing-Hong Kong relations. For Hong Kong people, the sentiment of “today’s Tiananmen, tomorrow’s Hong Kong” drove them to provide moral and material support for student demonstrations across China. For Beijing, it was a shocking realization that Hong Kong people cared about democracy beyond money and decadence.

From then on, Beijing’s policy toward Hong Kong sharply shifted from reassurance to control.

The Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, was promulgated in this tense environment in 1990. The Basic Law was supposed to implement the Joint Declaration’s liberal guarantees. Instead, it reflected Beijing’s imperative of control. The Chief Executive was to be selected by a 900-member (later expanded to 1200-member) Election Committee dominated by pro-regime representatives. The Legislative Council was to keep pro-democracy members elected from geographical constituencies in check by pro-regime members from functional constituencies. (See How China Holds Sway
Over Who Leads Hong Kong)

Most importantly, the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress retained final interpretation power over the Basic Law (a power that they would use five times over the past 20 years).

  1. What happened with the Umbrella Movement of 2014?

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We are all localists –真 . 本土 anyone who identifies with and defends HK’s core values/freedoms

[updated on Sep. 4, 2016–Pleased that my favorite localists won hands down in the Legislative Council elections.]

We Are All Localists!

Originally posted on Voice of Hong KongMARCH 10, 2016.

With supplementary information after the commentary. See also Fishball protest.

“There are no more pan-democrats. There are only pan-localists,” Wong Wing declared on his Commercial Radio public affairs programme “Our Way Out” (人民大道中) on March 8, 2016.

I agree with his conclusion but not the rationale. Wong suggests that the pan-democrats have been forced to become localists by the dramatic rise of Edward Leung Tin-kei, a Hong Kong University student and spokesperson for Hong Kong Indigenous.

It is a common argument after the Legco by-election in New Territories East geographical constituency on February 28 that the localists have become a third force that will contend with the traditional pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps. Although Leung did not win a seat, he rose from being an unknown figure to capturing 66,524 votes or 15% of the overall votes. Alvin Yeung of Civic Party won the election with 160,880 votes, narrowly beating Holden Chow of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong who secured 150,329 votes.

As Leung is most likely to take over votes from the pan-democrats in the general Legco elections in September, Wong argues that the pan-democrats are now compelled to win back support by becoming more like the localists.

Meanwhile, three slightly older localist groups, the Civic Passion, Hong Kong Resurgence Order and Proletariat Political Institute, have declared a joint platform to field candidates in all five geographical constituencies in the general elections, scheduled for September 4. Curiously, the coalition excludes the Hong Kong Indigenous. Chin Wan of Hong Kong Resurgence Order even plans to run in New Territories East, where Edward Leung had contested.

When asked if older localist groups are harvesting from their hard-won ascendance, Edward Leung is diplomatic, expressing confidence that both he and Chin Wan could win in the multiple-seat elections.

However, a deeper question is if various self-proclaimed “localist” groups really sleep in the same bed. Edward Leung’s position is simultaneously overlapping with but also contradictory to the raison d’être of the older groups’ platform.

When it was disclosed that Edward Leung is a mainland immigrant, the pro-establishment camp sneered. This is because the older localist groups define a localist as someone who was born and raised in Hong Kong. They have aggressively campaigned against the influx of mainland immigrants.

Leung’s supporters retort that anyone who identifies with Hong Kong’s distinctive values is a localist. One’s birthplace is unimportant. After all, the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was born in Hong Kong but has been accused of sacrificing Hong Kong’s interests. Compared with the older group’s emphasis on exclusive ethnic identity, Hong Kong Indigenous holds a more liberal and inclusive civic identity. As such, only the young localists deserve the label while the older groups should be properly called “nativists.”

All the self-labeled “localists” reject the notion that there is a split among them. Yet, if Leung has been repeatedly asked if the older groups are trying to ride on the back of their success, then these groups are probably seen as opportunistic “nativists” by Leung’s supporters and bystanders. It will be easy to confirm if the electorate sees the older groups as “localists” or “nativists”: If Chin Wan runs against Edward Leung as he said he would, then we can observe if he wins a similar vote count or if he loses by a large margin. (Dr Horace Chin Wan-kan opens district office in Tai Wai)

Once we see that there are two overlapping but divergent lines under the “localist” label, it is easy to see that the Hong Kong Indigenous is not entirely at odds with the long-standing pan-democratic camp. After all, the pan-democrats can point out that they have been fighting for the same cause: upholding Hong Kong’s separate system under “one country, two systems,” resisting China’s encroachment into Hong Kong, and preserving the city’s unique values and institutions. Indeed, resistance to “mainlandization” of Hong Kong was the key campaign theme in the last Legco elections in 2012 (see 赤的疑惑 ).

Thus, the pan-democrats are in fact “localists.” It is just that they are not “nativists.”

Non-establishment parties should form a pan-localist camp

What the “localists” have succeeded in monopolizing is the label. In politics, symbolism matters as much as substance. Wong is right that the pan-democrats should reclaim the lost ground. And the best way to do so is to form a pan-localist camp.

HKU law professor Benny Tai urges all non-establishment groups to unite against the pro-establishment camp in the general Legco elections. There should instead be a coalition of pan-localists.

There is no doubt that the pan-localists are deeply divided, especially over the wisdom of calling for Hong Kong independence and responding to police violence with violence. However, it is only by working together that they would have a chance at winning enough seats to effectively control the Legco agenda. For traditional localists, they should welcome the entry of new localists into the game play of nonviolent legislative resistance. For the new localists, they should see that taking control of Legco is a more effective means to defend Hong Kong’s interests than throwing bricks at the police (see “fishball protests“).

All hope is on the younger pan-localists. Alvin Yeung and Edward Leung seem to have developed some mutual respect during the by-election. (楊岳橋梁天琦握手) Young people declared during the umbrella movement that they were fighting for their future. Young pan-localists need to work together toward a shared future.

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Fishball Violent Protest and the Call for Independence –Why Not “Forceful Nonviolence”?

[Updated on May 6, 2016 ]

See also “We are all localists

[for an abridged version, see Voice of Hong Kong ]

Protestors threw bricks and glass bottles etc during clashes with the police on Feb. 8-9 (the first and second days of the Lunar New Year).

The premise of this blog post: the focus is on what methods are more effective (called “pragmatic nonviolence”); the issue if the use of violence is morally right or wrong (called “principled nonviolence”) is set aside.

Painstaking research shows that nonviolent resistance is far more likely to succeed than violent resistance.  See, most of all, Chenoweth and Stephan’s award-winning research which shows a success rate of 53% for nonviolent struggles v. 26% for violent struggles: “Peaceful Protest is Much More Effective Than Violence for Toppling Dictators“; Chenoweth’s TED talk; the Freedom House’s report on how nonviolent resistance is the path to durable democracy; Col. Bob Helvey’s conversion to nonviolence as a force more powerful.  (More references under “after occupy” and “The fallacy that nonviolence has not worked”, some are pasted below.)

Edward Leung Tin-kei of HK Indigenous is plain wrong in asserting that “a bloody path of violence is inevitable during the pursuit of democracy, as seen in the history of every democratic place around the world.” Those who advocate violence have the burden to do thorough homework. 

Other pro-democracy groups debate the effectiveness of the turn to violence. See 激進派本土派辯抗爭策略 袁彌明:堅持非暴力 梁天琦重申無底線Meanwhile, new HKU student union chair also disavows violence (孫曉嵐形容自己現時的抗爭底線是不傷害他人身體,亦不會用學生會的名義帶領同學這麼做。) 

Long Hair may be out of favor with “localists” now. But he is right that violent resistance could not be effective in HK. Listen to Long Hair on Commercial Radio (社民連 梁國雄).  On the same program, Centaline’s boss Shih Wing-ching admits that he had thrown rocks during the 1967 riots. However, in general, Hong Kong people would not support violent struggle unless they are pushed to the cliff. (See 施永青:中國人逼到走投無路先會革命)  This argument is supported by scholarly research.

One of my favorite books in teaching contentious politics is Jeff Goodwin’s No Other Way Out. The title is self-explanatory. Fishball protestors clearly saw that they had no other way out this time. (See 抗爭者的眼神告訴我 他們在絕地求生A ‘rioter’ is born in Mong Kok) However, it is noteworthy that a book  that examines armed revolutionary movements in the 20th century draws this conclusion: “As both a repertoire of contention and a motivating ideal, [armed] revolution seems to have lost much of its popular appeal and influence.” [p. 298]  “Perhaps the central reason for the increasing prevalence of nonviolent or unarmed protest, however, is the general expansion of most states’ infrastructural power.” [p. 296] Infrastructural capacity refers to a state’s “institutional capacity to penetrate its territories and logistically implement decisions.” [p. 38]

Indeed, violence has a slim chance only when resisters are confronted with an infrastructurally weak state that cannot patrol every inch of its territory (as when the CCP was fighting against the KMT during the civil war). Violence has next to zero chance in the face of an infrastructurally strong state.  Although Che Guevara succeeded in Cuba, his efforts to spread armed struggles elsewhere failed miserably. More recently, a long list of armed struggles have transited to nonviolence. (See Journal of Peace Research-2013-Dudouet

Some commentaries draw analogies with the Arab Spring and Taiwan’s 228 incident. Ominously, both are cases of failure. (Never underestimate the little guy: What the Mong Kok clashes have in common with the Arab Spring)

The fishball protest represents radicalization in the aftermath of the nonviolent umbrella movement. When nonviolence is seen as having failed, it is not surprising that some people are radicalized.  (年輕人對武力抗爭看法改變】戴耀廷公開信:暴力抗爭在香港沒有出路 : “當「和平、理性、非暴力之路」不通,有些人「理性地」選擇走上「暴力之路」”. But note Hong Kong’s unrecognised mini-victories) This dynamic of perceived failure leading to radicalization and marginalization of moderate voices is again thoroughly analyzed by Goodwin. (See The ‘Third Way’ To Nowhere)

However, did the umbrella movement fail to achieve its goal (genuine universal suffrage in 2017) because the movement was nonviolent? See my analysis of why the umbrella movement failed in the Journal of Democracy (also “The fallacy that nonviolence has not worked”). 

Is nonviolence inherently weak (“和理非非”) so that protestors have to resort to what they call “forceful resistance”? (旺角衝突後,進步民主派的集體失語從改良到革命)  This is ignorance of what nonviolence is about.  NV is “a form of warfare — the only difference is you don’t use arms.” (Rosenberg 12)  Nonviolence is “a method of political conflict, disruption, and escalation.” Around the world, nonviolent resisters call themselves “warriors”.  As Kurt Schock explains what nonviolence is and is not (NV Schock):

  • It is active; not inaction, submission, passivity, not passive resistance
  • It is nonviolent; but not anything that is not violent
  • Not limited to legal actions
  • Not limited to negotiation or compromise
  • Not James Scott’s everyday forms of resistance/weapons of the weak/disguised resistance
  • Not pacifism; it is pragmatic/strategic nonviolence, not principled nonviolence
  • Not spontaneous people power: it takes planning, organizing, strategizing 
  • (See “Peaceful protest has failed us?” (“after occupy“–scroll down)

It is also a mistake to think that the “forceful” approach succeeded in reducing the number of mainland tourists in 2015. The radicals claim credit and the conservatives blame them. In fact, the situation has not seen much improvement in areas close to the border, see「一周一行」實施近一年 上水居民稱水貨客問題仍存在. Jewellery stores in Mongkok have suffered more. Yet, the decline in mainland visitors was overdetermined by a whole string of economic factors: mainland tourists’ interest in other destinations, the strength of the HK dollar at a time when other currencies were depreciating, and, most of all, China’s slowing economy. One only needs to look at Macau and see dramatic reduction in mainland tourists without anti-mainland protests. (See Hung Ho-fung’s China Boom.) 

Although the official narrative charges that the protest involved a premeditated plan, post-mortem analyses suggest that most protestors were acting spontaneously, out of anger after one police officer fired two shots. (Ambrose Lee labels Mong Kok protesters as ‘beasts’ who have lost their sense of rationality 97後首次定性「暴亂」,旺角示威者:「這是第一次,但不會是最後一次 ) Here is another scholarly insight: No form of resistance could be effective if it is spontaneous. The lack of organization is also the real cause for the umbrella movement’s failure. (See “what went wrong“.)  Nonviolent action requires more than occupation of busy streets; it takes planning, organizing, and strategizing.

Why violent resistance tends to fail? Because of the simple logic of balance of firepower: The state enjoys the comparative advantage in violent confrontations. In contrast, even the most armed security forces could be confused when confronted by disciplined nonviolence. (It is like 以柔制剛.)

One key reason why violent protests are more likely to fail than nonviolent protests is that violence backfires on those who wield it. HKI’s Edward Leung recognizes that the violent protests have backfired. (梁天琦 見到民情好大反彈,示威者都要思考,針對國家機器的同時,如何減少對無辜市民的影響,但覺得難指導每一個示威者。) People Power’s Erica Yuen notes that the police use of tear gas against nonviolent protesters motivated more people to arrive to show support on Sep 28, 2015, but few people turned out in Mongkok this time. (袁彌明指雨傘運動警方發射催淚彈後金鐘擠滿人群,而旺角當日則沒有大批群眾支援。In this episode, protestors’ violence has backfired more than the police’s use of excessive forceIt is particularly unwise to attack reporters.(See “police and thug abuses–the lesson of backfire” and “escalation by protestors can also backfire“.)  (Freedom of the press only way to protect protesters’ rights, says Journalists Association梁天琦指不認同示威者襲記者但不會「切割」示威者可打壓記者?梁天琦:真係好難答黃之鋒撐傳媒:排拒客觀報導只會令警更暴力記者採訪被警察盤問「如何看港獨」 律師:市民可保持緘默). 

Another key reason is that success is more likely when those who wear blue jeans can neutralize those who wear blue uniforms. How do unarmed protestors have a chance against the regime’s full coercive might? Only when those who wield the gun defect to your side or at least refuse the order to shoot. This is why nonviolent movements are often symbolized by protestors handing out flowers to police officers. Attacking police officers, even those who are abusive, only helps to rally support for the regime. (Former Law Society chair goes so far to suggest shooting protestersA police officer who suffered injuries still expresses concerns for young people (“雖然今次俾年輕人打,但不會放棄對年輕人的工作,希望大家多關心年輕人的問題“) Many police officers complain about why only a handful of traffic police were assigned to the protest site (旺角騷亂警隊新貴引爆前線怨氣 ) , which triggered one of them to fire 2 live shots, which then angered protestors who escalated their actions. (There is unconfirmed report that the authorities made such an arrangement on purpose to serve as a bait to provoke protestors, following the script of “Ten Years.” See 那夜旺角是不是政府的陰謀,還重要嗎?)

There is still some chance to win over the police. Let me copy from the post “HK risks descending into a police state“:

It is also worth considering Srdja Popovic’s advice–focus the ire on the CY Leung government and try to win over police officers, even one at a time. … Popovic’s message:

“we, together, are the victims of the system. And there is no reason …to have war between victims and victims. One victims are in blue uniforms, other victims are in blue jeans, but there is no reason for that blood in the middle of those two columns. So we picked up four or five headlines in the news with that message, and we know that it produced results within the police.” (A Force More Powerful)

“From the beginning, Otpor had treated the police as allies-in-waiting. Otpor members delivered cookies and flowers to police stations (sometimes with a TV camera in tow). Instead of howling at police during confrontations, Otpor members would cheer them.” (Tina Rosenberg, “Revolution U,” Foreign Policy, 2/16/2011)

Most of all, nonviolence is a force more powerful because success depends on the extent of popular participation. In this game of winning hearts and minds, nonviolence attracts while violence repels.As Long Hair points out in the radio program, Che Guevara was turned in by the very peasants he wished to liberate. This insight is even more relevant in the HK context. I have long observed that even Gandhi would look like a radical in very conservative HK. Recall that Occupy Central once wondered if they could mobilize even 100,000 supporters as of early June 2014. Given what I have been hearing from family and friends and strangers during the Lunar New Year week, the turn to violence has significantly alienated the less-than-committed, driving even those who hate the CY Leung regime to support the crackdown. (See survey results by The Third Side 新思維發表民調「旺角警民衝突.」The best outcome from this episode is the radical flank effect: if democracy supporters are prepared to take more forms of nonviolent action to avoid further descent into violence.  The danger is that radicals may be convinced that it is futile to mobilize popular support and pursue what they think is right(「勇武」真的不需要民心?— history shows that the “vanguards of revolution” with no basis in popular support could only perpetuate dictatorship (see the Freedom House report). (梁 天 琦 : 出 身 與 本 土 無 衝 突: 本民前相信「以武制暴」,但社會輿論仍反對暴力,梁天琦隨即反駁:「輿論有用咩?」更以美國獨立做例子,指要帶來真正改變往往靠少數人「喺前面衝」。他指香港獨立值得一場公投,但被問及公投理念與「少數人帶領」相違背,梁就指「所以我咪走出嚟參選」,出選是為希望強化香港人主體意識。)

Director Chow Kwun-Wai of “Self-Immolator” in the film “Ten Years” says: Violence could be counterproductive (“幫倒忙”、“好心做壞事”) and that would lead to tragedy. (新聞透視 本土與港獨 at 13 min.)

See Almost 70 percent of Hongkongers still support peaceful protests, according to CUHK poll

It is worth noting that Chin Wan, who now advocates “forceful resistance,” once promoted “joyful resistance” :快樂抗爭就是懷抱歡喜心,直面痛苦,啟發思想,集結龐大民眾,以人民總量令到壓迫者畏懼,宣揚民眾的快樂生活方式而使到壓迫者愧疚而信服,從而達致彼此的解放。」 See also 杜耀明书评:在文化战场上快乐抗争–介绍陈云著《终极评论,快乐抗争》

Hong Kong’s future looks increasingly grave. (The blog post on the erosion of freedoms has grown to be intolerably long.) However, the way out is not to resort to violent acts in the next protest, but to think about other forms of nonviolent resistance that have been proven to be effective in other difficult cases. (See “Civil Resistance: A First Look“; see also “after occupy” and “the fallacy that nonviolence has not worked”. )

It is not too late to think about “forceful nonviolence.”



People Power issues a pamphlet advocating class boycott, work strike, and general boycott《從舉傘到三罷》

[May 5, 2016] Dalai Lama urges Hong Kong not to quit democracy fight, says pro-independence activist after visitThe Hong Kong Indigenous member, who previously stated his group had no boundaries in its protest methods, said the Tibetan activists tried to persuade him to adopt non-violent means. Also 4港青年印度演讲 向流亡藏人介绍香港政情

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District Council Elections — Reflecting a Divided Hong Kong

[Updated on Dec. 31, 2015]

The results are seriously mixed, reflecting the deep division among Hong Kong people. The high turnout rate of 47% captures intensified mobilization by both pro-umbrella and anti-umbrella forces, overturning the traditional wisdom that higher turnouts should benefit the pro-democracy camp.

Regarding the division:

Chan Kin-man said previous studies indicated that 60 per cent of Hongkongers were pro-democracy supporters. However, he said, various polls showed that only 40 per cent at most backed the Occupy protests and objected to the Beijing-decreed political reform model. “It is a very big drop from 60 per cent to 40 per cent. The supporters we lost are mostly moderates and the grass roots,” he said. “Their preferences are crucial in district council polls as they are the most active voters.” (A new term for Leung in 2017 will make Hong Kong more radical, says co-founder of Occupy protest movement)

Some heavy weights of the pro-democracy camp won (James To) while others lost by small margins (Albert Ho and Frederick Fung); some new umbrella soldiers won (Wong Chi-ken, Yeung Suet-ying, Chui Chi-kinwhile others lost; some heavy weights of the pro-establishment camp won (Starry Lee, Leung Mei Fun, Wong Kwok-hing) while others lost (Chung Shu Gun and Elizabeth Quat). (Umbrella soldiers’ win eight seats as veteran politicians suffer surprise defeat ; Winners and losers in the 2015 Hong Kong District Council ElectionsWhat’s the message from the district council election?two pan-democratic big guns defeated and three new pro-Occupy candidates win seats區議會民選議席分佈最新結果大佬表現差傘兵有驚喜 泛民失守葵青 奪沙田一半議席 港人思變渴求新面孔)

Most results are extremely tight — the smallest winning margin involves only 3 votes. Where pro-democracy candidates competed against one another, they lost to pro-establishment candidates (Albert Ho’s and Frederick Fung’s cases). Apparently, fake umbrella troops could do the trick too (假傘兵鎅票成功 兩區泛民以些微票數敗予民建聯). (See below on fake umbrella troops). However, where pro-regime candidates competed against among themselves, pro-democracy candidates did not benefit (制派內訌選區 勝算不減 建制無間道:中聯辦調動組織票 防民主派漁人得利).

Among candidates who are simultaneously legislators and district councillors, the pro-establishment camp fares better than the pro-democracy camp:


Umbrella soldiers won 8 seats. Newbies more often lost than won overall — yet, we should note that they ran in strong-holds of the pro-establishment camp and they lost with surprisingly narrow margins. Younginspiration fielded 9 candidates and one won. (Younginspirations’ statement) The winners claimed that they did not focus on the umbrella movement in their campaigns. (黃子健及楊雪盈:參選跟佔領運動無關). How did they win?

Pro-democracy newbies defeat veteran pols: Why they won

Not through first-time voters, but through the tested recipe of getting to know local residents 傘兵勝出靠「入屋」 街坊連屋企鎖匙都畀埋佢

今屆一大特點就是傘後成立的年輕人參政組織,以政治素人身分,在地區工作時間很短,但卻交出亮麗成績,表示新一波的政治覺醒已發生了。(傘兵經營社區 新一波覺醒可期)

一班區選素人的心願  一則拯救家園的寓言

Disabled Yip Wing’s victory over DAB’s Quat was no fluke

Clarisse Yeung promotes “Good Day Wanchai”, a community platform to inspire civic participation in the district ; How an artist became a district councilor; 楊雪盈:我們提倡「公民平台」讓街坊參與區議會的決策,以及綠色、永續的生活方式楊雪盈淚謝大坑街坊

Facebook fail cost me district council seat, says pro-Beijing veteran Chris ‘Tree Gun’ Chung“Our supporters thought, ‘you will win even if you are sleeping, right?”




How CY blew his chance with young people

Wen Wei Pao’s take 「傘兵」自爆內幕露出真面目


The pro-democracy camp won 21 more seats than the last time, taking 125 seats overall. Out of 226 coordinated candidates, 105 won. Democrats garnered more support in the Central-Western District, effectively debunking any talk of backlash after the occupy movement. The Democratic Party won 43 seats, 4 fewer than the last time. Against expectations, pan-democrats who exposed lead water scandal lost in major affected estates (村民唔係咁諗之關於鉛水啟德泛民慘敗). Civic Party and the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood grabbed more seats than the last time. In contrast, more radical parties People Power, League of Social Democrats and Civic Passion did not win any seats and lost by wide margins. (黃洋達承認區選失敗向支持者致歉 強調熱血公民會堅持抗爭路線 ; 熱狗全軍盡墨分析) Neo-democrats, who broke away from the Democratic Party, fielded 16 candidates and won 15 seats. (16人出選僅1人落敗 新民主同盟大勝!) A lot of post-election analyses say that the results demonstrate the rise of localism in HK politics. It is worth noting that “localism” is not at all a new/post-umbrella phenomenon. Nor is it homogeneous. The label spans a wide spectrum in HK as elsewhere. All the pro-democracy forces assert local interests in terms of defending the HK part of the “one country, two systems” model. The radicals are more “nativist” in their campaigns to drive out mainlanders. The success of Neo-democrats may show that they strike the right balance for pro-democracy voters –positioning between traditional democrats (who are criticized for compromising with the Liaison Office) and radicals (who are criticized for advocating “the use of force against police violence” during the umbrella movement and staging anti-mainlander campaigns after). Note also that Neo-Democrats candidates have done solid local work in their respective districts (深耕社區 守護本土. (A new Democratic Progressive Party Of Hong Kong seems to follow Neo-Democrats’ line 成立香港民進黨 楊繼昌:香港人價值優先)

Some pro-democracy candidates gained more than 1,000 votes over the last round: 多區泛民得票大升 票又從何來?

新同盟小將贏大佬 全靠「格食格」兼「內鬥」

公民黨支援少 街站自搭 物資放家 油尖票王余德寶 數百元津貼打天下


The pro-regime Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of HK won 119 seats, but 17 fewer than the last time. The equally pro-regime Federation of Trade Unions kept the same number of 29 seats. Also, Eight winning councillors acknowledged as Chinese state enterprise employees

Some ways that the pro-establishment camp used to register new voters and canvass for votes:

Districts with police quarters witnessed dramatic increases in pro-establishment votes 紀律部隊投票激增 建制派得益

Pro-Beijing camp ran candidates to snatch votes from ‘umbrella soldier’, ex pan-dem claims ; 區選背後的故事 — 他找我𠝹楊雪盈票,我答應了…【區選黑幕】曾參與區選前泛民獲邀「鎅票」 以拖延戰術打亂對方部署

Fujian Association is suspected of copying personal info when they promoted voter registration earlier【電話催票選民資料何來?】

How the Liaison Office has helped the DAB raise huge funds over the years 張曉明帶挈 民建聯全年收入再破億 創歷史新高 十年吸金7.4億

Handouts: 馮檢基直言陳穎欣在區選中,策略是一個字「派」!按馮的觀察,陳獲得比以往多四至五倍的競選資源支持,以物質「搶」票,更以日日派飯盒籠絡長者,甚至向長者指「你幫馮檢基手喎,對唔住,冇飯盒畀你」,可以對手是衝著馮檢基而來。(馮檢基親解落敗原因 建制「省港旗兵」嚇親佢)


民建聯最年輕當選者 邵天虹

Why various pro-establishment candidates gained 1,000 votes compared with earlier elections (considering that winning candidates tend to get about 2000 votes)? 票從何來?】多區泛民票不減仍連任失敗 同區民建聯得票升逾千馮檢基落選,𠝹票以外yellowred-11_KzAqG_1200x0

Overall, the pro-establishment camp still controls far more seats than the pro-democracy camp, thus maintaining dominance in all District Councils. (All district council governing seats go to pro-Beijing camp; trading with pan-dems ‘disallowed’十 八 區 會 正 副 主 席 敲 定 嚴 禁 與 泛 民 「 交 易 」Many districts were not even contested, with pro-establishment candidates automatically elected. (See below.)


Despite the pro-establishment camp’s dominance, the results still mean bad news for CY Leung. It is rumored that the Liaison Office wants the pro-establishment camp to win more seats than the last round if CY Leung is to run again in 2017. (【壹錘】建制贏幾多有利CY連任?) CY’s response is to coopt newbies by appointing them to advisory committees. (CY: I will invite young election candidates to join committees劉鳴煒邀約見面 青年新政梁頌恒:政府若只想招安無意思) Global Times says that It’s increasingly significant to work on Hong Kong youth.” Albert Chan:

“the pro-establishment District Council election in Hong Kong is organized and controlled by the state apparatus of the Chinese Communist Government. I participated in District Council election since 1985, and won seven consecutive elections between 1985 and 2008.  I can say that I have seen the transformation of elections in Hong Kong. After half a million people marched on the street in 2003, the Chinese Government formed the Central Coordination Group for Hong Kong and Macau Affairs. This Group was headed by the former Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China, Zeng Qinghong.” (Letter To Hong Kong: Albert Chan)

Suspicions raised over Liaison Office interference with social worker elections

For a taste of pro-democracy vs. pro-Beijing voices online, see comments on the Economist’s story A new force emerges in Hong Kong’s politics

If the District Council elections mark the first test of city’s political sentiment after Occupy protests, the results are so mixed/divided that all parties and groups will be forced to completely rethink their plans for the Legislative Council elections next year. It seems that some districts are deeply divided, some are more  pro-democracy, and some are more pro-regime. Three things are clear: 1) the pro-democracy camp has to catch up on registering new voters. 2) Pro-democracy voters want their representatives to stand firm on HK’s interest but without going overboard. 3) Across the entire spectrum, committed young candidates are favored over older candidates who have served multiple terms.

‘Vote Them Out’ Versus ‘Let Pan-Democrats In’

Favourites fall, ‘Umbrella soldiers’ march, and Hong Kong’s future looks as uncertain as ever

No surprise wins, but much learning on the election campaign trail

The district election X factor: age, platform, or just a new face?

Pan-Democratic Force Gains Strength From ‘Localist’, Occupy Movement

‘Not a bad thing’ more young people aspire to join politics after Occupy – Chief Sec.

Pan-Democratic Force Gains Strength From ‘Localist’, Occupy Movement

How the Occupy protests shaped the District Council elections

How Beijing’s radical policy triggered a backlash from HK voters

How localism and ‘umbrella soldiers’ thrived in district polls

Potential candidates for 2016 ‘super district councillor’ emerge as incumbents lose or retire

Pro-Beijing camp ran candidates to snatch votes from ‘umbrella soldier’, ex pan-dem claims

What the political landscape might be like in 2016

The establishment won a battle this time but may lose the war 區選結果大有可能讓泛民政治路線調整

泛民要打拼 黨務就要年輕化




下屆區選應發起眾籌,參選全港所有地區 拉長戰線 建制派就非牢不可破

順民者昌 逆民者亡





Can opposition groups reach the halfway mark in LegCo?

More charts at  2015區選 資訊圖合集

Before the general elections, there will be a by-election for the Legislative Council seat vacated by Ronny Tong. Can traditional democrats, umbrella soldiers and radicals agree to support only one candidate? (Umbrella soldier’ group invites Civic Party to hold a primary for coming LegCo by-electionPro-democrats to cooperate in New Territories East by-election明年新東補選 泛民有暗湧青年新政為何公開提出新界東初選?; Younginspiration vs. Civic Party 所謂「同路人」的二元劃分)

Election fraud?

Fake candidates and ‘vote-snatching’: a new era of electoral fraud for Hong Kong?

Complaints flood election body in wake of district pollsThese included hundreds of elderly people being brought to polling stations and coached which candidate to vote, according to Ming Pao Daily.

Gov’t initiates consultation to enhance voter registration system

Vote planting 種票停不了?民建聯小花涉送禮氹改地址

Seniors were registered or changed addresses for them without their knowledge  長者選民參加建制議員活動疑「被搬屋」改地址

Pro-establishment camp take seniors to polling stations, arousing suspiction of vote manipulation  Elderly people bussed to polling stations by ‘volunteers’ ;九龍選戰】慈雲山建制疑出「金絲帶」車輛接送長者投票;  民建聯助選團 一對一扶院舍老人入票站神秘女「人肉速遞」長者投票 見記者即丟低輪椅伯中港牌車載院舍長者投票 票站分發身份證

Some people received voter registration notices for strangers–vote planting suspected【區選】選民收不明來歷投票通知書 康怡有懷疑種票個案

Private cars are mobilized by the pro-establishment camp to take voters to a polling station in Yuen Long 【區選 ‧ 八鄉南】原居民黎偉雄 vs 朱凱迪 大批私家車接送長者投票

Pre-ticked ballots are found in Tun Mun 屯門友愛南被發現派發預先Tick好選票

A voter has a DAB candidate’s no. written on the palm 「掌心雷」寫明候選人編號

Middle-aged women help canvass for votes for the pro-establishment camp新界選戰】泛民資源懸殊 天水圍大媽團助建制拉票

Joshua Wong:  “I will mainly be at the places with more elderly care centres – a lot of community groups and student organisations… are monitoring the situation [for] vote rigging.” (HKFP)

Wen Wei Po reports that the Hong Kong Police Inspectors’ Association Chairperson Ngo Chi-hang distributed four posters featuring pictures of disciplinary forces engaged in frontline law enforcement work, including one of the pro-democracy Occupy movement.  The posters ask the force and their friends and their families to “cast a ballot you will not regret”, vote for “a candidate that contributes to the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and only let “someone who does real work for the society” onto the Council. (HKFP)

A watchdog on the elections「解構區議會系列」研究

[Jan. 21, 2016] The govt rules out requirement of proof of address 政府完成選民登記諮詢 不要求地址證明 稱為免打擊市民登記意欲

[Dec 31, 2015] Sai Wan community group to open ‘shadow district council’ office to monitor local affairs

I hope HK’s politicians and voters will correct the sexism in electoral politics:

The pro-regime DAB successfully redeployed the strategy using young beautiful women to defeat pro-democracy veterans 區選裏的新人上位與「小花策略」

Beauty and the ballot: the former queens who would be councillors

Beauty is no guarantee of victory in district polls 

Housewives voted against young female candidates (因為游蕙禎,我背叛了太太)

Nakade Hitsujiko used young sexy ladies in his campaign and promised to promote local sexy dancers


Written before the results:

Most analysts suggest a very difficult fight in the upcoming District Council elections on Nov. 22, 2015. The aftermath of the umbrella movement has not really boosted the chances of pro-democracy candidates. The election results could have rippling effects on the Legislative Council elections next year.

[Nov. 22, 2015] Election watch 

The voting rates are higher this year at approx. 47%. “The key battleground of Lok Tsui in Tuen Mun saw a 50% voter turnout – 3,955 voted out of a total of 7,877 eligible voters.” “Raymond Wong says that there are two possibilities for the high turnout: either the pro-Beijing camp has organised their voters very well, or the Occupy protests last year successfully rallied the public.” (HKFP)

What is at stake? HKFP Explainer: District Council election day ; 重奪區議會(足本版) ; 尋找區議會的…… ; 區議會係乜東東 每區坐擁1億5千萬

Live Standnews區選直擊】各區選情速遞; but beware of fake standnews site

CY Leung had trouble finding the slot to insert his ballot (RTHK)

[Nov. 22, 2015] Hong Kong’s pan-dems face uphill fight to retain Legco super seats amid strategic competition in district councils

With the pro-Beijing camp seeking to demolish the pan-democrats’ all-important hold on one-third of the seats in Legco, which enabled them to vote down the government’s electoral reform package in June, it is critical for the pan-democrats to hold on to the three super seats.

[Nov. 10, 2015] Pan-Democratic Camp Fighting Uphill Battle In District Council Polls

… the pro-democracy political parties presented about 200 candidates… They will compete in around 250 constituencies. … ideally, they should field a candidate in every one of the over 430 constituencies. The situation reflects the difficulties of the pro-democracy groups. They do not have the resources to support their candidates in grassroots services; and not enough young professionals are willing to accept the sacrifices of long-term constituency work without much prospect of advancing beyond a District Councilor position.  On the other hand, their counterparts in the pro-establishment camp have good chances of receiving appointments to important advisory committees, and positions in the government as political assistants and even deputy secretaries.

The pro-Beijing united front has been building a resourceful and increasingly sophisticated grassroots network and electoral machinery since 2003, and its effectiveness has been proven… the pro-establishment camp now controls a majority in all district councils and captures the bulk of the funding offered by the government for services at the district level. In contrast, the pro-democracy groups now hold about 85 seats in all the district councils, and they cannot influence the decision-making processes. Their limited resources available have been further handicapped by the fact that they can hardly secure resources from their district councils and the business community. This explains the pessimism in the pro-democracy camp.


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Not a Christian Movement

[Updated on May 6, 2016]

This is a long overdue post. Seeing a high school friend at a Christian tent on the first anniversary finally motivated me to get the job done. (See reflections one year on.) Here is her t-shirt that says “shouldering the cross” on the back:


Given that I teach at a Catholic university whose motto is “God, country, and Notre Dame,” many people have asked me if the Umbrella Movement is a Christian movement. My colleague Daniel Philpott argues that the third wave of democracy was a Catholic Wave, so is the wave hitting HK? Other colleagues have read about Christian participation in the movement and have asked about Christianity-motivated reasons. I have been saying “no” for a year. The umbrella movement is a Eurasian movement, a cross-class movement, and a social media movement; but, no, it is not a Christian movement.

It is understandable why people are tempted to connect HK’s democracy movement to Christianity because some democracy leaders are Christian and because Christian groups are conspicuous at many protests. Thus there were these stories about the movement:

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Reflections One Year On

[updated on Oct. 17, 2015]

My commentaries to commemorate the first anniversary

What the current political storm spells for Hong Kong’s freedoms (HKFP)

打壓不會輕易落幕 好戲在後頭 (The struggle to rein in HK’s freedom is not over and more is yet to come) (Ming Pao)

沒有民主, 香港怎能在「風雨中抱緊自由」(“Without Democracy, How Could Hong Kong Embrace Freedom in the Storms )? (BBC Chinese)

The anniversary

The one-year anniversary of the firing of tear gas passed with little incident on Sep. 28. People Power tried to break through to Harcourt Road but was easily stopped by the solid barricades and huge police presence. (‘Open the roads!’ – Tensions flare at Admiralty protest, a year since mass rallies) The theme of the gathering was anti-political persecution — and volunteers are invited to sign up (全民反政治打壓集會」; call for volunteers). On Sep. 27, Pro-democracy Mong Kok protesters march back to Admiralty for Occupy commemoration. Artifacts and street art from the movement are exhibited until Oct. 16. (其後:雨傘運動中的物件 Hereafter: Objects from the Umbrella MovementProtest street art on display ).


See also photos by HKFP.

Events, talks and protests planned for the one-year anniversary of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement

Younger protestors made a dire warning that Sep. 28 should not be treated as a celebration or a holiday: The Umbrella Movement one year on: In between commemoration and celebration ; Hong Kong activists mark Occupy protest anniversary and set sights on next battleground ; 紀念?不,是念記!黃之鋒:唔想9.28成節日冀政壇有轉變】. Rowdies even argued that a failed movement should not be commemorated: 失敗的「雨傘革命」,根本不需要記念!

Umbrella supporters don’t seem to know that many other movements made a conscious effort at making protests festive. Why? Fear is often a key impediment to mobilization. By making participation fun, organizers could get more people to join potentially risky protests. It is no coincidence that protests around the world often have rock concerts. Another lesson from other movements is that focusing on “failure” makes people lose heart — thus it is important to claim small victories so that people are motivated to carry on. (See another post for a more comprehensive discussion; and How Can a Movement Increase Participation?)

In any case, the mood was hardly festive at the commemoration. The emphasis was put on remembering the firing of tear gas, as exemplified by the moment of silence and these posts: 特區差人準備開槍一幕,要忘記,難了… ;  香港人永遠不會忘記


The mood was best summed up as “there was less passion (anger stirred up by the firing of tear gas) and more perseverance (少了一份激情, 多了一份堅持” — a phrase I heard on radio news afterwards.

According to the cartoonist of Mr and Ms HK people: 1年前,那股憤怒,那珠淚水,那份衝動,還記得嗎?還是已經忘記了,回到了營營役役的生活?那把一起撐的傘還在嗎?(Mr and Ms HK People


No need for democrats to wallow in gloom


[Oct. 23, 2015] Gov’t inspectors shut down Hong Kong’s ‘Occupy Hotel’

There have been a lot of reflections on the lessons learned.

See also the weakness of organization in What Weng Wrong? Insights from “Almost a Revolution”

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If “It’s the economy, stupid!”…

[updated on Oct. 17, 2015]

It is often argued that Hong Kong is an economic city, not a political city: “Let’s focus on making money and set aside democratic aspirations.” Well, the HK government now gets what it wished for!

It is certainly true that many HK people care about making money above all else. Indeed, it is not coincidental that many “winners,” who have benefited from HK’s growing integration with the mainland economy, tend to be pro-establishment. In contrast, young people who have nothing to lose tend to be pro-democracy. But what happens when the “winners” lose in a “made-in-China” stock market crash? Worse, what happens when those traditional regime supporters blame the visible hands of the state rather than the invisible hands of market forces for their losses (cf. the causal mechanism of “attribution” in theory of contentious politics)? In trying to stabilize the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, mainland investors are moving money out of the HK stock exchange, thus further driving down HK stock prices and hurting its traditional supporters. Whether or not Beijing could stabilize the mainland stock markets, HK’s smaller investors are sure to suffer. Meanwhile, HK as an international financial center could regain its advantage over Shanghai and Shenzhen (after all the talk “that HK is becoming just like Shanghai and Shenzhen” or “that HK is to be surpassed by Shanghai and Shenzhen”).  If Beijing would learn from HK on how market forces work, there could be some silver linings in the long-term.

As if one made-in-China crisis is not enough, the HK government is suddenly confronted with another crisis that touches on a wide spectrum of HK people:  Tainted water saga reveals how China SOEs do business in HK. More on the water crisis below.

[July 31] China stocks post worst monthly fall in 6 years

[July 27] China stocks plunge, suffer biggest one-day loss since February 2007 Shanghai ends at 2-week low in biggest daily drop in 8 years, Shenzhen and Hong Kong tumble ; China’s support measures crumble as Shanghai stocks dive 8.5 per cent in biggest daily drop for 8 years

[August 24] From Asia to Wall Street: China’s stock market meltdown goes global in one of the worst trading days for eight years. “What we witnessed [on Monday] was an absolute meltdown on China stocks and the search for a safe haven continues,” said Stephen Innes, a senior foreign exchange trader at Oanda. (Frantic selling batters Shanghai and Hong Kong equity markets)

[August 28] The Economist’s cover story: The Great Fall of China


The Chinese stock market: officially sanctioned prices? Illustration: David Simonds/The Observer


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The End of Fake Universal Franchise (For Now)

[Note: The veto may well represent the closing of the Umbrella chapter in HK’s 3-decade-old democracy movement. (See background.) Of course, the struggle for genuine universal suffrage will go on and we will continue to comment and blog on the latest developments. Thus, the revised title “HK’s Umbrella Movement and Beyond.” As usual, existing blog posts will continue to be updated.]

[Updated on Sep. 28, 2015]


The veto — with unexpected drama and tears

The veto was expected, because the government proposal would need 2/3 of legislators to pass. Pan-democratic legislators had just over 1/3 of the votes to secure a veto. What was not expected was the walkout by pro-establishment legislators.

[June 18] Hong Kong parliament defies Beijing’s insistence and rejects ‘democracy’ plan : Proposal that would have allowed election of leaders, but only from candidates vetted by Communist party hierarchy, is defeated in key vote (香港立法會否決北京政改方案何去何從)

The “political reform package” was rejected on Thursday with 28 legislators in Hong Kong’s parliament voting against it. Eight lawmakers voted for the proposal. There are 70 members in all but more than two dozen pro-government politicians walked out of the session without voting in an apparent attempt to halt proceedings.

Pro-democracy lawmakers and activists celebrated the result, even though it means the current system – under which Hong Kong’s chief executive is chosen by a 1,200-member pro-establishment “election committee” – will remain in place.

[June 18] Hong Kong reform package rejected as pro-Beijing camp walk out in ‘miscommunication’ (with video)

All 27 pan-democratic lawmakers kept their vow to vote no, and pro-establishment medical sector representative Dr Leung Ka-lau added a 28th vote. That would have been enough to deny the proposal the two-thirds majority it needed. But the pro-establishment camp’s plan to blame pan-democrats for the failure of reform was severely undermined, as the walkout left just eight yes votes and a clear majority against the package.

Harry’s cartoons:

cartoon-0621-net cartoon-0623-net

How many voters do the “yes,” “no” and “abstain” votes represent, respectively? 政改真正場外點票


The vote count is the best possible outcome for the pan-dem camp. The govt had championed the line that the pan-dems should bear the responsibility for denying HK voters the right to “one-person, one vote” in choosing future chief executives, calling on voters to punish them in future elections (“票債票償”). (See 北京欲借泛民手否決政改) As it turned out, it is the pro-establishment camp that has to bear the responsibility for not voting for the bill.

veto 1607016_843635909051554_2156176794971663533_n

This dilemma for the pan-dems before the vote: [June 18] The day Hong Kong’s Legco entered a parallel universe

Pan-democrats who had fought for years for democracy decried a government package that would allow Hong Kong people to choose their leader by one person, one vote. Their Beijing-loyalist rivals, hardly known as staunch pro-democrats, argued in favour of universal suffrage.


Why did pro-establishment legislators walk out? 

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What went wrong? Insights from “Almost a Revolution”

I watched the documentary “Almost a Revolution” on May 29 at the Cattle Depot Artist Village, part of the Umbrella Festival. The 3-hour-long documentary really zooms in on the splits among protestors from the first week. It reinforces what scholars of contentious politics know very well and what advocates at the time urged: unity is necessary for success. If the umbrella movement did not force the CY Leung government to compromise, it is clear in hindsight that it was not because protestors did not take escalated action earlier as the rowdies argue, but because the movement had no unified leadership from day one. See unity and leadership.


As a FT story puts it, “Occupy has proven to be a chaotic social movement driven largely by students who lack both an effective leadership structure and a strategic vision.” 

The character that really stood out in the documentary was Long Hair. Some notable quotes — based on memory, not verbatim:

“There was no unity. There was no efforts by all sides to sit down together to give coordinated direction to the people power that was unleashed.”

“I follow the Occupy Central Trio because they could mobilize a new group of people who used to sit on the sideline.”

Re: the guys who championed the view that they didn’t need leaders: “If you only represent yourself and no one represents you, why come here to this collective gathering?”

“We have to know why we failed. If we don’t, then our efforts would really be wasted.”

In another interview: “From September 28 on, no one had the ability to push forward actions that s/he deemed workable.” (toward the end 梁國雄:建設民主中國事關本土

Also 長毛:雨傘不是革命 運動後欠檢討

雨傘運動期間,梁國雄有一段時間「擔櫈仔」日夜守在龍和道,呼籲佔領者不要引發零星佔領路面行動,強調要堅守和平原則,被本土派、勇武派狠批長毛是保守派。 (長毛促本土派檢討 「為何勇武不了」)

My life: Activist and politician ‘Long Hair’ on prison, being banned from China and his amah mother

Last year, in September, a lot of young people said, “Enough is enough, we need to change the whole thing.” …  this kind of statement is not powerful enough (to bring about true democracy), you need to be more organised. We need to learn from history and draw on experiences in other parts of the world, such as South Africa (and its anti-apartheid struggle).


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Final proposal sticks to Beijing’s rigid framework — and our analyses in the Journal of Democracy

[updated on June 1, 2015]

[May 31] Beijing officials stand firm on 2017 poll and say strict framework for Hong Kong’s democratic reform will stay even if lawmakers reject plan

Hong Kong government sticks to rigid Beijing framework in 2017 election proposal


Our more comprehensive and systematic analyses in one place: Journal of Democracy April 2015, Volume 26, Issue 2

Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement: Beijing’s Broken Promises


China has gone back on its well-documented vow (and solemn treaty obligation) to allow Hong Kong genuine universal suffrage. Abrogated commitments and fake democracy are not the path to a thriving Hong Kong that feels at home within the People’s Republic of China. (HK JoD Davis Beijing’s Broken Promises)

Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement: The Protests and Beyond


The demonstrations of late 2014 captured the world’s attention with their scale, passion, and resourcefulness, but in the end were unable to move dug-in local and national authorities. Yet time is still on the side of the demonstrators. (HK JoD Hui The Protest and Beyond)

Why HK should not “pocket” the fake “one person, one vote” proposal

Prodemocracy members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council are vowing to veto the August 31 decision (which requires a two-thirds majority), and they have just enough votes to do so. The authorities want to convince Hong Kong people that they should “pocket” a less than ideal form of suffrage as a “gradual and orderly step” on the way to genuine universal suffrage in the future. The flaw in the government’s line is that some steps create insurmountable hurdles rather than take people closer to the finish line. Once created, any undemocratic arrangement will become increasingly entrenched. If the Election Committee is not reformed now, it will become increasingly resistant to change later. The narrowly based “functional constituencies” that still control half the Legislative Council’s seventy seats furnish a hard and object lesson. They have proven resistant to all attempts to phase them out, and legislators who hold these seats are unlikely to back any reform that would force them to face direct elections.

In Chinese 從政府主導理論 看雨傘運動 


Andrew Nathan’s analysis also in the J. of Democracy: “China’s Challenge,” January 2015, pp. 156-170

[Beijing has been] Seeking to roll back existing democratic institutions or to stifle sprouts of democratic change in territories where it enjoys special influence. These are Hong Kong and Macau—two Special Administrative Regions that came under PRC control in 1997 and 1999, respectively, when they were returned to Chinese sovereignty by their former colonial rulers—and Taiwan, a territory over which China claims sovereignty and over which it has growing economic influence. In none of these places has China denounced democracy in principle, but in all three it has undermined it in practice.

See also updates on other posts, esp. why the freedom without democracy model is broken; polarization after occupy; the fallacy that nonviolence has not worked; and targeted boycott. Existing posts are regularly updated to reflect the latest developments.

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After occupy: Division by ideology and over tactics; polarization

[Updated on April 20, 2016]

During the umbrella movement, “1.2 million people took part in Occupy protests, poll shows.” See also a cross-class movement.

HK democrats/protestors are united over the goal of “genuine universal suffrage” but divided over strategies and tactics. While such differences were set aside during the occupy movement, they came to the forefront after “failure.” It bodes ill for HK’s fight for democracy if people sharing the same goal attack each other. What Chris Patten calls the rowdies long criticized the pan-democrats. During the occupy, they also criticized the leadership formed of the HK Federation of Students, Scholarism, and Occupy Central. I didn’t understand why the rowdies championed the slogan “there are no leaders but only ordinary people” when they themselves had clear leaders with fiercely loyal followers. See also unity and leadership.

While unity is necessary to success (see unity), unity is always difficult. Typically, unity happens when the state is repressive enough.  Even when it is attained, it is usually highly fragile and transitory. Opposition leaders are divided over strategies and ideologies and are involved in a struggle for power among themselves.

1150706_4c431c573a9bf8ee6bb87f5efccc6c33-692x360 [source]

P1200251 [screen printing at the one year anniversary]

Post-occupy: Division, escalation and polarization 

[April 20, 2016] New Federation of Students seeks to restructure to reunite with all student unions of higher institutes 【砍聯計劃】學聯新莊擬重寫會章 不排除普選秘書長

[Apr 29, 2015] What Happened to Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Movement? Still riven over strategy, tactics, and core values, many now consider the 2014 protests a failure

The activists from last year’s massive democracy occupation have splintered. Nowhere is this clearer than on college campuses represented by the Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the architects of the fall 2014 pro-democracy protests that roiled the Chinese territory. Students at three local universities have voted to quit the league of university students; more vote drives are underway. Critics, some swayed by rising nativist anger, say student leaders’ insistence on passive resistance at the height of the protests doomed the push for open elections for the city’s chief executive, instead of a slate of candidates pre-vetted by Beijing. As the wounded student group tries to shore up its membership, its allies worry that the loss of a united student front will push the already anemic pro-democracy camp closer to irrelevance…  the federation’s critics insist, the democracy movement remains a leaderless one, even as it becomes less passive. “There will be different kinds of protests, maybe more radical. More radical movements will be possible because we will not have a big organization to control the movements,’’ said Ventus Wing-hong Lau, who organized a referendum drive at Chinese University to sever federation ties. This will make the response from the police and government “more difficult to control, and to predict.”

[May 25] Protest movements split in the new Hong Kong

A reflection on the split 我哋唔好拗咩係左膠,因為如果我哋要拗左膠嘅定義呢,我哋可以拗到個『雨傘節』完結為止都未拗完。」

練乙錚:民主力量重組變化 悲觀還是樂觀?



[Oct 4, 2015] Rowdies hijacked a protest by musicians: Musical defiance: Hong Kong musicians play discordant notes in protest over MTR’s large baggage restrictions:

a few dozen people from localist groups mounted their own protest, chanting slogans and waving flags and placards. Protest organiser and yangqin teacher Mavis Lung said she felt helpless over how localists had hijacked the protest.

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Arrest by appointment — and harassments

[Updated on Sep. 28, 2015]

[Sep 25, 2015] Action sought on cops who bear false witness against protesters

only 209 or 22 percent of the 955 protesters arrested during the Umbrella Movement have been prosecuted as of July, Ming Pao Daily reported. Also, 40 of the 140 cases in which a verdict was delivered ended up with the charges dismissed or the defendants exonerated, the report said.

[Sep 2]  Occupy trio deny charges of unlawful assembly and released on bail

[August 27] Occupy trio report to police for ‘arrest by appointment’

Scholarism convener Joshua Wong, along with Hong Kong Federation of Students’ secretary general Nathan Law and ex-secretary general Alex Chow, are expected to be formally charged with joining an unlawful assembly and inciting others to do so during the Occupy movement last year.

[Feb. 27, 2015] A new round of “arrests by appointment” : 11 pan-democrats face ‘arrest by appointment“:

Police contacted 11 pan-democrats after the Lunar New Year for a new round of “arrests by appointment”, Ming Pao Daily reported Friday.

They include Democratic Party co-founder Martin Lee Chu-ming, chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, former chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan and Civic Party chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee.

Legislative councilors including Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, Frederick Fung Kin-kee, Ip Kin-yuen, Charles Mok Nai-kwong and Helena Wong Pik-wan are also on the list.

[Feb. 20 2015] Hong Kong’s ‘Occupy’ leaders now face quiet but persistent harassment 

Email hacks, shadowing, petitions, placards and curses are being aimed at the organizers of Hong Kong’s ‘umbrella movement,’ which ended months ago. The bullying tactics increasingly look like those faced by activists on the mainland.

[Jan. 24, 2015]  Police show Occupy founders evidence that may be used against them in further investigation

The three co-founders of Occupy Central got a glimpse of the authorities’ case against them yesterday as they were shown video clips and articles they wrote, which police say are proof they “incited” people to take part in the pro-democracy mass sit-in… They were shown 48 videos featuring themselves in the protests. Tai’s landmark article that floated the idea of Occupy Central for the first time, published in the Hong Kong Economic Journal in January 2013, was presented to him as evidence.

[Jan. 23, 2015] Vice-President Li Yuanchao said that the central government’s struggles against the pro- democracy movement were not over and “the really interesting part of the show is yet to come”. (李源潮:反佔中鬥爭未完「好戲在後頭」)

[Mar. 14] Margaret Ng: the massive arrests mean that litigation becomes protest by other means 

[Apr. 10] Student leaders are charged with criminal contempt of court 律政司正式起訴黃之鋒,  岑敖暉黃之鋒等20人或被控刑事藐視法庭 and 抗擊不義政權,必然要付出代價

雨傘援助基金 Umbrella Relief Fund’s Photos銀行捐款 / 香港上海滙豐銀行 / 500-395835-001 / 賬戶姓名: William Po & Co. – Clients’ A/C


Since Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, the police have been calling occupy/umbrella activists to report at police stations at appointment times “to assist in probe.” There are three key issues with this wave of arrests. 1) Activists believe that the arrests are timed to preempt another wave of civil disobedience. The HK government is scheduled to release another consultation report on the electoral arrangements for the Chief Executive in 2017 this afternoon. No one expects the government report to yield to protestors’ demands and activists had promised new actions after this report is released. (Occupy leaders predict fresh protests over new government political reform consultation)

2. This method of making mass arrests by appointment is a potent counterstrategy against one logic of civil disobedience — mass arrests could normally paralyze the police. Activists are talking about reporting to the police station en masse.

3. Core organizers could be subject to years of imprisonment. This could make most leaders of the entire pro-democracy camp — traditional or new, moderate or radical — ineligible for the coming elections.


Lawmakers, activists called to police headquarters ‘to assist in probe’

Dozens of Hong Kong Protest Leaders Facing Arrest, Standard Says

黃之鋒、梁麗幗遭O記預約拘捕 被捕者擬集體投案

警列佔領1500人調查名單 倘落實檢控拘捕 或翌日即上庭警列佔領1500人調查名單-倘落實檢控拘捕%20%20或翌日即上庭/web_tc/article/20150107/s00001/1420567552780

This wave of arress could resemble the Formosa Incident 佔領人士大搜捕將成香港「美麗島大審判」佔領人士大搜捕將成香港美麗島大審判

我想講的是這是香港的「美麗島大審判」。這次幾乎是打網打盡。去到2016年的選舉,泛民的立法會議員是不見了大半。像人民力量來講,沒有了陳偉業、陳志全,因為官司一定纏繞幾年。根據現在的法例,如果被判刑超過三個月,即使有緩刑,都是五年不能參選。我想他們之後也會打官司,打這條例是否合基本去。 2016年,社民連幾乎沒有人能生存,像王浩銘、吳文遠「阿牛」等那些人都會「落網」。陶君行可能會「走甩」。人民力量可能只有Erica和劉嗡兩個人「走甩」。他們在2016年只能大打悲情牌。這會變成香港的「美麗島事件」,即使到最後能夠「打甩」,是否能夠趕及在2016年選舉之前「打甩」,或者減刑少過三個月都成疑問。而且這困擾是令人沒法參與選舉工作。


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The fallacy that nonviolence has not worked–“we thought if we could keep the revolution peaceful, it might lead to some changes”

Original post:

Can HK protestors continue to maintain nonviolent discipline? People who doubt the effectiveness of nonviolence are clearly unaware of failed violent movements around the world. Plenty of people study movement tactics and HK protestors should learn from such lessons.

Not just “rowdies” are at fault, so are movement organizers/leaders. It is not enough to tell protestors that they have already won by awakening more HK people–clearly many protestors don’t buy this line. To convince protestors not to escalate by taking counterproductive radical actions, leaders/organizers have to offer potentially more effective alternatives. See recent posts escalation by other meanswhat could be more effective, and targeted boycott.

I have been teaching about contentious politics for over 10 years. If HK protestors believe that the nonviolent umbrella movement has failed and that they have to escalate to “minimum force” to respond to police brutality (see police state), they should know that they would simply follow the footsteps of failed movements in the 20th century. Movements that involve violence are far more likely to fail than movements that can maintain nonviolent discipline. (See Chenoweth and Stephan below.) Indeed, the turn to violence is such a recipe for failure that violent movements around the world have returned to nonviolence. HK protestors should know that their misguided judgment is certain to lead to disasters.  In Hong Kong as elsewhere (including such hard cases as Libya and Syria–see Zunes below), it is not that nonviolence has failed; rather, it is because protestors have stubbornly stuck to the most unsustainable form of nonviolent action — a disruptive and concentrated action of occupying streets — and have not tried other dispersed methods that have proven to be more effective and sustainable around the world — e..g, a consumer boycott that targets at business tycoons whose support is critical to CY Leung’s survival. See earlier posts nonviolent discipline and backfire.

The following sentiments are deeply worrying:

Cheung emerged from the crowd, his skin pale. “We have the right to protest,” he said, staring at the shaken students. The government, he said, had shredded any last thread of a relationship with her people, he said. “Somehow, we thought if we could keep the revolution peaceful, it might lead to some changes,” he said. “I can’t promise this is a peaceful revolution anymore.’’ (Hong Kong Protesters Face the Limits of Their Power )

The fighters. On the evening of Dec. 1, after Hong Kong’s police forcefully beat back protesters, a small group gathered in Admiralty to discuss the use of what they called “minimum force.” Jason Chow, a 20-year-old student, told Quartz the recent police violence has inspired the group to “fight valiantly,” rather than being “a lamb to the slaughter.” When confronted again by police, the group plans to use defensive armor, throw objects, and even wrestle away cops’ batons from them if they start beating people, he said. (The fighters, the hunger strikers, and the surrendered—new faces of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement)

A new student group “Student Front” said that they would not insist on maintaining nonviolent discipline but plan to use shields to push against police lines.  鄭先生指出,「學生前線」近日要談分工,並再討論清場時的應對及文宣工作,宗旨是「保護自己,保護身邊的人」,不希望有人無謂地被捕,「非主張主動攻擊警察,但亦不可一直只堅持理性和平」。他指如警方清場,不會認同公民抗命坐着被捕,會以盾牌等守住防線;他不認同使用盾牌向警方防線推進是暴力。(大專生成立「勇武派」團體 盾牌守防線抗清場

Also [學生前線 勇武抗爭] 19122014 學生前線核心成員訪問

I have been hearing similar sentiments on live stream in the past week.

Why any deviation from nonviolent discipline is a recipe for failure? Why is nonviolence a force more powerful in the face of the most brutal regime? Let me list the three most important reasons. 1) In the balance of firepower, protestors are no match for those in uniform. Direct confrontation with the police, whether protestors just storm police lines or resort to physical violence, means that protestors play by a game that the police are well trained for.  The failed action on Dec. 1 was predictable. 2) The regime enjoys the balance of firepower because it monopolizes the power of the gun. Protestors can win only if they compel those in uniform to disobey orders to shoot, fire tear gas or beat up protestors. Radical actions by protestors would only compel those in uniform to move in the opposite direction, forcing them to rally around the regime, CY Leung in this case. 3)  Regime violence backfires on the regime only when protestors maintain nonviolent discipline. Radical actions by protestors, even if not strictly violent, can only backfire on the movement and alienate the public.

The same Mr. Cheung quoted above actually had this correct understanding of the doomed attempt to surround the central government offices on Nov. 30-Dec. 1: “It’s police setting a trap,’’ he decided. “We didn’t occupy [Lung Wo road] at all. We’re just waiting to get arrested.” Likewise, if “Student Front” want to minimize arbitrary arrests by pushing against police lines when the police clear Admiralty, it remains to be seen if their planned action would only have the counterproductive effect of having more arrests and casualties. [Update: Student Front dropped the idea of “using force to counter violence” during the clearing of Admiralty. Mr. Cheng was nevertheless arrested before the police operation.]

“Student Front” believe that they enjoy widespread support on FB:


Here is a hard lesson from Egypt:

Early in 2008… a group of tech-savvy young people an hour’s drive to the south in the capital city of Cairo, who started a Facebook group to organize protests and strikes on April 6 throughout Egypt in solidarity with the mill workers. To their shock, the page quickly acquired some 70,000 followers. But what worked so smoothly online proved much more difficult on the street. Police occupied the factory in Mahalla and headed off the strike. The demonstrations there turned violent: Protesters set fire to buildings, and police started shooting, killing at least two people. The solidarity protests around Egypt, meanwhile, fizzled out, in most places blocked by police. The Facebook organizers had never agreed on tactics, whether Egyptians should stay home or fill the streets in protest. People knew they wanted to do something. But no one had a clear idea of what that something was. The botched April 6 protests, the leaders realized in their aftermath, had been an object lesson in the limits of social networking as a tool of democratic revolution. (Tina Rosenberg, “Revolution U,” Foreign Policy, 2/16/2011.

And a similar lesson from Turkey:

Protests like this one, fueled by social media and erupting into spectacular mass events, look like powerful statements of opposition against a regime. And whether these take place in Turkey, Egypt or Ukraine, pundits often speculate that the days of a ruling party or government, or at least its unpopular policies, must be numbered. Yet often these huge mobilizations of citizens inexplicably wither away without the impact on policy you might expect from their scale. This muted effect is not because social media isn’t good at what it does, but, in a way, because it’s very good at what it does. Digital tools make it much easier to build up movements quickly, and they greatly lower coordination costs. This seems like a good thing at first, but it often results in an unanticipated weakness: Before the Internet, the tedious work of organizing that was required to circumvent censorship or to organize a protest also helped build infrastructure for decision making and strategies for sustaining momentum. Now movements can rush past that step, often to their own detriment. (Zeynep Tufekci, “After the Protests,” NYT, 3/19/2014

Thus the commentary “Protesters are playing into the hands of the government” is correct.

The protesters, or at least some of them, have not helped themselves by also becoming more aggressive. Unfortunately, the students are just playing into the hands of the government. They are allowing themselves to be portrayed as law-breaking, destabilising and selfish; while the government is increasingly able to present itself as a force for stability, rule of law, reason and “normality”. As the violence becomes the focus of attention, people are losing sight of what this is supposed to be about, namely political reform. The endgame we talked about a few weeks after this all started is now coming into play.

One bad action on Nov. 30-Dec. 1 sapped the support for the movement. Another bad action could kill it.

A HK student who participated in a successful student movement in Quebec 從魁北克罷課反觀香港雨傘運動





施加經濟壓力… 公民不合作非暴力抗爭要取得成功,在集體犯法之餘,必須配合其他有實際作用的行動,對當局以至整個社會施加實質的經濟壓力,始有成功的希望。…甘地使出了「排斥英國貨」的策略,抵制英國產的商品。… 甘地和馬丁路德金所發起的公民不合作非暴力抗爭並不是純粹的集體犯法,而是針對有關不公義不平等政策與法律的實際行動,並且是成功對有關既得利益者施加實際的經濟壓力,有助迫使對方讓步。反觀香港的公民不合作非暴力抗爭,基本上就只有佔領街道一途,干犯的非法集會的法例,與爭取的真普選並不相關,而佔領數條街道,實際上亦未對既得利益者造成真正的巨大經濟損失,效果不彰,未能爭取到爭取的目標,乃是正常不過。


[Updated with resources on Dec. 14, 2015]

The new cabinet of the HK Federation of Students vows to continue the insistence on nonviolence 來屆學聯「命運自主」作綱領 繼續非暴力抗爭


[Mar. 28] HKU’s Students’ Union issued this statement on the half-year mark of the outbreak of the umbrella movement:

The scale and impact of the Revolution failed to move the fiscal structure. It occupied but not obstructed. Half a year has gone by since the end of it. Instead of drowning into the Utopia at Harcourt Village and reminiscing the romance and reverence for the Revolution, the fact that it ended in failure is to be accepted, and there is a need for us to evaluate our mistakes and consider other possibilities in further pressuring the regime. How can we ever break off again from the limit of peace? How can we snap off the curb on militancy? / 無論雨革如何波瀾壯闊,仍然無法動搖政經結構,流於「只佔不堵」。半年已過,與其繼續沉溺夏慤村的烏托邦生活,緬懷「雨傘運動」的浪漫與神聖,我們必須接受佔領失敗的事實,檢討過失,思索向政權施加更大壓力的可能。我們如何再次衝破和平的魔咒?如何擺脫武力的潔癖?

This statement has the right diagnosis but the wrong medicine. See the discussion of “pillars of support” below.

Hong Kong University student magazine Undergrad talks of revolution — Publication criticised by CY runs article urging city to revolt or face ‘destruction’. (Link to the issue:⼀一⽉月號-⾬雨傘世代-⾃自決未來/)

Repeatedly, we hear people say that nonviolence cannot work or has not worked. The problem is that they don’t understand what nonviolence is and they haven’t tried the full repertoire of nonviolent methods–instead, the Umbrella Movement followed the most unsustainable method of occupy streets. (More below. And see “targeted boycott“.)

Scholarism has a nuanced understanding of nonviolence, that it is not restricted to mild actions 周庭:非暴力與激進無衝突 組織歡迎任何合作空間:



Meanwhile, dock workers say that their concerted 40-day strike two years ago was very useful 碼頭罷工兩周年 —「罷工好有用!」

What is and is not nonviolent action? (When people say that NV doesn’t work or has failed…)

Kurt Schock, “Nonviolent Action and Its Misconceptions: Insights for Social Scientists,” PS Political Science and Politics, Oct. 2003, pp. 705-712 (NV Schock)

  • It is active; not inaction, submission, passivity, not passive resistance
  • It is nonviolent; but not anything that is not violent
  • Not limited to legal actions
  • Not limited to negotiation or compromise
  • Not James Scott’s everyday forms of resistance/weapons of the weak/disguised resistance
  • Not pacifism; it is pragmatic/strategic nonviolence, not principled nonviolence
  • Not spontaneous people power: it takes planning, organizing, strategizing

In South Africa:

When asked about methods of nonviolent action, a common response of participants was “‘We tried that [nonviolent action] for fifty years and it didn’t work. Sharpeville in 1960 proved to us that violence is the only way left’” (Wink 1987, 4). Yet, when Wink pressed them to identify the tactics that were most effective in challenging the state over the past two years, they produced a remarkably long list of nonviolent actions: labor strikes, slowdowns, sit-downs, stoppages, and stayaways; bus boycotts, consumer boycotts, and school boycotts; funeral demonstrations; noncooperation with government appointed functionaries; non-payment of rent; violation of government bans on peaceful meetings; defiance of segregation orders on beaches and restaurants, theaters, and hotels; and the shunning of black police and soldiers. This amounts to what is probably the largest grassroots eruption of diverse nonviolent strategies in a single struggle in human history! Yet these students, and many others we interviewed, both black and white, failed to identify these tactics as nonviolent and even bridled at the word (Wink 1987, 4). (Schock, p. 710)

Nonviolent action against the Nazis:

Non-cooperation in Denmark through tactics such as work slowdowns and strikes severely hindered the German effort to extract resources and exert control over the country. Generally, the Nazi military machine was dumbfounded in the face of widespread nonviolent resistance. B. H. Liddell Hart, a British military strategist who interrogated Nazi generals after the war, found that “they were experts in violence, and had been trained to deal with opponents who used that method. But other forms of resistance baffled them . . . It was a relief to them when resistance became violent, and when non-violent forms were mixed with guerrilla action, thus making it easier to combine drastic suppressive action against both at the same time”  (Liddell Hart 1968, 205). (Schock, p. 708)

Call to boycott the Maldives as its economy heavily relies on tourism: The Maldives: Luxury Heaven Boycott Can Avert Human Rights Hell

Even Palestinians who have tried guerrilla warfare and suicide terrorism have returned to nonviolence against Israel’s barrier. See “Budrus” and “Pay attention to nonviolence“.

Resisting ISIS: Surprisingly, acts of civil resistance in Syria and Iraq have shown success against the so-called Islamic State. by Maria J. Stephan | April 2015

Kafr Nabl achieved international acclaim for its colorful and clever banners offering critical commentary on various aspects of the revolution. The village is a paradigm of self-organization and boasts a robust media apparatus. In Menbej, a town in Aleppo, the business community closed their shops in a general strike against ISIS in May 2014. ISIS sent its militants to reopen the shops and the villagers remained defiant, albeit only for a short time

Acts of defiance targeting ISIS are spreading in Iraq as well. In Mosul… In July 2014, after a prominent imam and 33 followers refused to pledge their allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, a large number of Iraqi supporters flocked to mosques where they preached to show solidarity for these leaders’ act of defiance. ISIS detained some of the leaders but has not killed those with such a significant following. Local groups of Iraqis have resisted ISIS’ destruction of local landmarks and shrines in Mosul, a city that is considered an archeological treasure and paradigm of religious coexistence…

Satire has become a particularly powerful weapon of nonviolent resistance that Syrians, Iraqis, and others in the Arab world are using to delegitimize ISIS. Videos dramatizing the absurdity and illegitimacy of ISIS’ tyranny have gone viral on social media and have been shown on satellite television stations.

See also Can political struggle against ISIL succeed where violence cannot ? ;  Nonviolent strategies to defeat totalitarians such as ISIS ; Myopia of the Syrian Struggle and Key Lessons

Also Powerful nonviolent resistance to armed conflict in Yemen

the most significant setbacks to the Huthi militia in their march southward across the country in recent months have come not from the remnants of the Yemeni army or Saudi air strikes, but from massive resistance by unarmed civilians which has thus far prevented their capture of Taiz, the country’s third largest city, and other urban areas. The resistance efforts have also pressed the Houthis to withdraw their forces from a number of previously-held areas, including universities, residential neighborhoods, and even military bases…

Major student protests swept the country throughout the fall, primarily in Hodaidah, Ibb and Baydha… In addition to demonstrations, a wave of strikes took place across the country targeting a variety of sectors where the Huthis attempted to assert their control: in addition to universities and high schools, the military academy in Sana’a, the judiciary in several cities, and fuel production facilities in Shabwa were shut down. Hundreds of prisoners held captive by the Huthis went on hunger strike, as did President Hadi while under house arrest prior to his escape. Scores of prominent Yemenis have resigned from their posts in protest, including governors, police chiefs, senior military officials, and top administrators in transportation, medicine, communications, and other sectors.


To know more about what nonviolent action is and how wide-ranging nonviolent methods can be, see :

The Checklist to End Tyranny 结束暴政清单

The Trifecta of Civil Resistance: Unity, Planning, Discipline 公民抵抗三要素:团结、规划、纪律

The CANVAS Core Curriculum: A Guide to Effective Nonviolent Struggle 非暴力行动与战略应用中心核心教程 : 有效的非暴力抗争指南 (PDF 6.4MB):…/0BxnzgzmO-h-dZmE2Z2tCVF84ekU/view

Agents of Change and Nonviolent Action 公民抵抗三要素:团结、规划、纪律

Civil Resistance: A First Look

USIP Global Campus’ online course on nonviolence:  Civil Resistance and the Dynamics of Nonviolent Movements. Some select lectures: 

1.0 Voices from the Field

1.2.1 Challenging Conceptions of Power

1.4.4 Tension, Conflict, and Nonviolent Struggle

2.1.1 Strategic Effectiveness

3.2.2 Courageous Leadership

3.4.2 How Can a Movement Increase Participation?

4.1.5 Constructive vs. Obstructive Actions

5.1.1 Building a Movement Narrative: Story of Self, Us, and Now

5.4.1 Arts and Resistance Overview

Gene Sharp’s “From Dictatorship to Democracy” (從獨裁走向民主) and other books: in English and in Chinese.

Gene Sharp‘s lessons for successful nonviolence:

  • Plan a strategy — you can’t improvise and expect success; classic negative example: Tiananmen. The occupy movement now joins the list.
  • Overcome atomisation — get organized
  • Target pillars of support (more below)
  • Resist violence/maintain nonviolent discipline
  • Expect regime repression and make it backfire–that requires that you maintain nonviolent discipline
  • Don’t give up hope — as long as you haven’t given up, you haven’t lost

Tina Rosenberg, “Revolution U,” Foreign Policy, 2/16/2011. ( “NV conflict as a form of warfare — the only difference is you don’t use arms.”

(more below)



Listen to the experts:

Don’t forget what Patten said about rowdies

Maria Stephan, “How the HK protestors can win”

198 nonviolent methods:

Erica Chenoweth at TEDxBoulder, “The success of nonviolent civil resistance”

Max Fisher makes Chenoweth and Stephan’s argument simple: “Peaceful Protest is Much More Effective Than Violence for Toppling Dictators,” Washington Post, 11/5/2013.

Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, “Drop Your Weapons: When and Why Civil Resistance Works”

Peaceful Protest—Slow And Steady—Is Winning The Race To Create Change

Mairi Mackay, “Gene Sharp: A Dictator’s Worst Nightmare,” CNN, 6/25/2012

CANVAS and Srdja Popovic et al, “A Guide to Effective Nonviolent Struggle”

Srdja Popovic, “How to topple a dictator,” TED, 2011; “How to Topple a Dictator (Peacefully),” NYT, 2015

Popovic, Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World

A Hong Kong blog on Popovic: Umbrella Blossom

World cases that show that nonviolence is a force more powerful, esp. Ch. 13 “The Mythology of Violence”


Maciej Bartkowski, “Understanding civil resistance. Questions I am asked and wrestle with,” 3/22/2014

Véronique Dudouet, Dynamics and Factors of Transition from Violence to Nonviolent Resistance; and “Dynamics and Factors of Transition from Armed Struggle to Nonviolent Resistance,” 
Journal of Peace Research, 50, 3, 2013, 401-413 (Journal of Peace Research-2013-Dudouet)

Stephen Zunes, “The Role of Nonviolence in the Downfall of Apartheid,” in Zunes, Kurtz, and Asher, eds., Nonviolent Social Movements, Blackwell, 2004, 203-229.

Stephen Zunes, “Intervention in Libya: Is It Really the Only Option?” Truthout, 3/28/2011.

The largely spontaneous Libyan uprising, in its nonviolent phase, focused… on mass protests, making them easy targets for Qaddafi’s repression, rather than relying on more diverse tactics – including strikes (which could have been particularly effective in the oil industry), boycotts, slowdowns, and other forms of non-cooperation… the failure of the nonviolent struggle was not because it was nonviolent, but because it was not well-organized strategically.

How Freedom is Won: From Civic Struggle to Durable Democracy

  • Freedom and democracy are best advanced by powerful, broad-based, and cohesive civic coalitions employing non-violent tactics; in 32 transitions in which strong non-violent civic coalitions were active, 24 countries (75%) are Free, 8 (25%) are Partly Free, and none are Not Free today.

  • The largest gains for freedom occur as a result of transitions driven primarily or in large measure by significant civic protest and mobilization. Of 50 such transitions, 32 have led to high levels of respect for political rights and civil liberties. By contrast, in the 14 transitions from authoritarian rule in which the driving force was from the “top down” and led primarily by reform-minded power holders, only 3 (21%) are Free, with strong performance in terms of fundamental rights. Three other transitions were sparked by international military intervention.

  • When cohesive and strong civic coalitions emerge in an environment where there is little or no violence, the result almost uniformly is a high level of freedom. Pre-transition, 9 such countries were Partly Free and 9 were Not Free. Today, post-transition, 17 are Free, and only 1 is Partly Free.

  • Even in settings of significant or high violence, the prospects for freedom are significantly better when the opposition refrains from using violence. In the 20 countries in which both the government and segments of the opposition used violence, only 20 percent of the countries are Free today, while 60 percent are Partly Free, and 20 are Not Free. By contrast, in the 12 countries where the authorities employed violent force but the opposition resisted with nonviolent tactics, 7 (nearly 60 percent) are Free, while 5 (more than 40 percent) are Partly Free.

See also the structure of power/pillars of support and alternative nonviolent tactics in what could be more effective.

  • Theoretical premise from Gandhi: Power is relational rather than monolithic
  • Key strategies and methods conducive to success: separation of a regime from its “pillars of support”
  • Pillars of support: The target is not the pinnacle of state power. Rulers draw their resources and legitimacy from multiple loci of power. “A government is like a building held up by pillars.” (Rosenberg)
  • Pillars: police, military, civil servants, the media, teachers/education system, workers, business community, church, int’l support, etc.
  • Power graph: chart each pillar’s level of loyalty to the regime over time, see which pillars had fluctuated and what events caused the change.
  • See CANVAS, “A Guide to Effective Nonviolent Struggle” (

pillars 1 pillars 2

Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict,” International Security, 2008 (a more academic piece)


Rowdies’ mistaken conclusion:



The call to “use force to counter violence”


And 佔旺四式


Anti-govt group mounts online campaign against police

A HK group reposts from US gun rights and suggests that “香港人絕對有自衛權。Hongkongers have the right to self-defence” — not sure if these HK people know much about the American right-wing.

HKAM 香港人絕對有自衛權。Hongkongers have the right to self-defence



See Ackerman and DuVall on the mythology of violence in a force more powerful: ch. 13

非暴力抗爭: 印度的自主運動作為開端



It feels like teaching my usual contentious politics class online these days. Nonviolence is a key focus in Notre Dame’s peace studies and democracy programs:


Filed under Umbrella Movement

Is hunger strike effective? What could be more effective?

[Updated on Dec. 7]

[Dec. 6] After over 100 hours, hunger striking students were taken to the hospital. While the hunger strike had little chance of compelling CY Leung to talk to students, it did reveal how heartless HK’s top officials are. Where on earth would top officials refuse to visit hunger striking teenagers?

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Hong Kong Protester Ends Hunger Strike, but two more students are still continuing the hunger strike.



[Original post] I am very worried about the indefinite hunger strike by students of Scholarism. This is the sixth day. They intend to keep fasting until the government agrees to talk to protestors, and they are appealing to pro-establishment politicians to facilitate such a talk.

Their appeal with English subtitles: Scholarism: We don’t have a choice

Joshua Wong’s mom appeal to officials to answer Scholarism’s call 黃之鋒媽媽的公開信

C.Y. Leung rejects calls to meet student hunger strikers: He said the five fasting teenagers should accept the authority of a nominating committee that the government said had exclusive power to vet candidates for the 2017 chief executive election under the Basic Law.


While the hunger strike is a much more measured form of escalation than the call to surround the central government offices last Sunday, is it more effective? See escalation by other means.

Let me check the assigned readings that my students have to read.

Hunger strike is certainly in Gandhi’s bag of nonviolent methods. Let me check what he said about its effectiveness. During the Calcutta fast amidst Hindu vs Muslim communal violence, Gandhi conceded that ‘You cannot fast against a tyrant,’ and that ‘a satyagraghi should always fast against a ‘lover’, that is, one who shares, however unconsciously, an underlying sympathy and respect for his aim.” (Dennis Dalton, Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action, Columbia University Press, 1993, p. 164)

The method of hunger strike aims to melt the hearts of those in power. However:

Nonviolent action does not depend on moral authority, the ‘mobilization of shame,’ or the conversion of the views of opponents in order to succeed. Conversion of the oppressor’s views, whereby the challenge effectively alters the view of the oppressors thereby resulting in the acceptance of the challenger’s aims and an alteration in the oppressor’s policies, is commonly assumed to be the only mechanism by which nonviolent action promotes political change. In fact, conversion… is the least likely of the four [possible mechanisms] to promote change… (Kurt Schock, “Nonviolent Action and Its Misconceptions: Insights for Social Scientists,” PS Political Science and Politics, Oct. 2003, 705-712.)

A better chance if you get a lot of attentiony and sympath: To feed or to free

Why staying at occupy sites or surrounding the central government offices or staging a hunger strike are inherently ineffective methods? Because these methods don’t touch on the power base of the CY government.

On the structure of power, Gene Sharp’s insight is helpful:

What gives a government — even a repressive regime — the power to rule? The answer, he realized, was people’s belief in its power. Even dictatorships require the cooperation and obedience of the people they rule to stay in charge. So, he reasoned, if you can identify the sources of a government’s power — people working in civil service, police and judges, even the army — then you know what a dictatorship depends on for its existence… If a dictatorship depends on the cooperation of people and institutions, then all you have to do is shrink that support. (Mairi Mackay, “Gene Sharp: A Dictator’s Worst Nightmare,” CNN, 6/25/2012

The goal of a democracy movement should be to persuade people to withdraw their obedience. A government is like a building held up by pillars, Sharp explained. [One] needed to pull [the regime’s] pillars into the opposition camp. (Tina Rosenberg, “Revolution U,” Foreign Policy, 2/16/2011.

Those who insist on staying at the occupy sites and want to confront the police should further consult Gene Sharp:

“You don’t march down the street towards soldiers with machine guns… That’s not a wise thing to do. “But there are other things that are much more extreme… You could have everybody stay at home. “Total silence of the city,” he says lowering his voice to a whisper, punctuating the words with his bent hands, as if he’s wiping out the noise himself. “Everybody at home.” The man’s eyes scan the room. “Silence,” he whispers again. “You think the regime will notice?” He looks around the room, nodding almost imperceptibly.

This silence is recommended for Iran. In other cases, there are more effective methods to pull the regime’s pillars to the opposition camp. In South Africa, e.g.,

The dismantling of the apartheid state did not occur because proponents of apartheid were converted to universalist principles, it occurred because the anti-apartheid movement undermined the power of the state (directly through strikes and noncooperation, and indirectly by promoting capital flight and international sanctions), diminished the government’s capacity to control the political situation… [The anti-apartheid struggle] produced a remarkably long list of nonviolent actions: labor strikes, slowdowns, sit-downs, stoppages, and stayaways; bus boycotts, consumer boycotts, and school boycotts; funeral demonstrations; noncooperation with government appointed functionaries; non-payment of rent; violation of government bans on peaceful meetings; defiance of segregation orders on beaches and restaurants, theaters, and hotels; and the shunning of black police and soldiers. This amounts to what is probably the largest grassroots eruption of diverse nonviolent strategies in a single struggle in human history! (quoting Wink 1987, 4). (Kurk Schock)

As I have been saying ever since I created this blog, HK’s protestors have to diversify their methods. Occupy as a method of disruption and concentration is inherently unsustainable. It has lasted this long only because of the government’s earlier missteps. (See How Hong Kong’s Government “Constructed” the Umbrella Movement) Protestors should try more sustainable and effective methods of dispersal such as targeted consumer boycott, rent boycott, the shopping revolution, etc.. I emphasize “potentially more effective” because there is no fool-proof recipe to success. But sticking to well-proven ineffective methods is certainly a recipe for failure. See escalation by other meanstargeted boycott and shopping revolution.

See 198 nonviolent methods:

If Scholarism wants pro-establishment politicians to put pressure on the government, they should find ways to impose costs on them rather than trying to melt their hearts.

This can be made easier if the government alienates originally pro-establishment politicians. See James Tien visited students on hunger strike.

Protestors should also think in terms of the regime’s pillars of support. They have to win over hearts and minds not just among the rest of the population, but also among those who work for the government. If this is the goal, then any action to directly confront the police can only be self-defeating, driving the police and other civil servants to rally behind CY.

Let me copy from the post “HK risks descending into a police state“:

Win over police officers, however difficult:

It is also worth considering Srdja Popovic’s advice–focus the ire on the CY Leung government and try to win over police officers, even one at a time. … Popovic’s message:

we, together, are the victims of the system. And there is no reason …to have war between victims and victims. One victims are in blue uniforms, other victims are in blue jeans, but there is no reason for that blood in the middle of those two columns. So we picked up four or five headlines in the news with that message, and we know that it produced results within the police. (

From the beginning, Otpor had treated the police as allies-in-waiting. Otpor members delivered cookies and flowers to police stations (sometimes with a TV camera in tow). Instead of howling at police during confrontations, Otpor members would cheer them. (Tina Rosenberg, “Revolution U,” Foreign Policy, 2/16/2011.

Continue reading


Filed under Umbrella Movement

How Hong Kong’s Government “Constructed” the Umbrella Movement

“How Hong Kong’s Government ‘Constructed,’ the Umbrella Movement,” Sociology Department’s “Mobilizing Ideas” blog, Dec. 2, 2014 (

See also


See also Michael Davis’s Assessing the “Umbrella Movement” in Hong Kong

Mobilizing Ideas

By Victoria Tin-Bor Hui

A Hong Kong student leader, Yvonne Leung, said, “The Hong Kong government needs to take lots of responsibility for what’s going on.”1 She was referring to the government’s responsibility to offer genuine universal suffrage and end the impasse.

Unknown to Leung, her statement echoes the state-centered theory of contention — that it is state policies that inadvertently “construct”2 movements. The Umbrella Movement is no different. At every step of the way, the Chief Executive C. Y. Leung’s policies have backfired, first giving rise to the movement and then fueling it for two months and beyond.

View original post 1,156 more words


Filed under Umbrella Movement

Escalation by other means?

After an eventful night of direct confrontation, maybe protestors are ready to consider alternative methods of escalation?

The HK Federation of Students and Scholarism called on supporters to surround the central government offices last night.

I never agreed with Regina Ip but found myself in agreement with her when I heard her on radio news today: So what if you block people from going to work for a few days, what do you achieve?

According to student leaders,  the goal of surrounding the central government offices last night was “to have the government respond to our demand, and this action will continue until they respond.” See Occupy supporters and police clash as Hong Kong protests escalate. The action was ended by excessive police force and so the government is under no pressure to respond.

I am not alone in my skepticism. My FB feeds today are full of accounts of people saying that they didn’t believe that this action would achieve anything–even among those who went along.

The organizers estimated that about 4,000 people turned out at Admiralty last night. This is a relatively low figure given the massive outrage at police brutality in Mongkok, especially compared with the mass rally denouncing thug violence on Oct. 3. Is this a sign that there was rather weak support for radical forms of escalation?  I also saw some posts in my FB feeds suggesting that leaders have to show leadership — curiously, such voices come from people who normally argue that “there are no leaders.” See post on unity.

I have been saying for some time 1) that escalation by radical action can be counterproductive and can backfire on the movement, and 2) that there are alternative methods of escalation that are simultaneously more effective and less risky. The critical issue is to impose costs on those whose voices count in pressuring CY to re-open talks. Staying at the occupy sites, surrounding the central government offices, or storming the Legislative Council building clearly do not impose costs on those who count the most.

Let me be long-winded and put together what I said earlier:

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Filed under Umbrella Movement

Hong Kong risks descending into a police state–and the “Shopping Revolution”

[Updated on Mar 2, 2016]

See arrest by appointment. See police action after the Fishball protests.

[June 7, 2016] Approval ratings of the police continue to decline 港大民研:警隊評分創四年新低

[May 31, 2016] See how decadent police and pro-establishment camp have become

[Mar 2, 2016] The police arrested 1003 individuals, only 74 were convicted 佔領行動1003人被捕 僅74人定罪

[Feb 24, 2016] The police to receive a big boost in budget 警隊本年度超支 3 億元 來年預算開支再增 2 億 行動單位增幅最高

[Feb 5, 2016] More shaky police testimony at hearings of Occupy-related cases

[Dec 31, 2015] CY Leung appoints pro-Beijing member to police watchdog body IPCC:

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has appointed four members, including anti-Occupy activist Barry Chin Chi-yung, onto the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC). The IPCC is an independent statutory body responsible for monitoring and reviewing the investigation of complaints against members of the Police Force. 

[Dec. 10, 2015] UN Committee Against Torture urges gov’t to ‘duly prosecute’ police who used excessive force during Occupy

[Dec. 6, 2015] Google refused govt request to delete police brutality videos last year警方要求YouTube移除去年涉警車內毆打疑犯短片遭拒

[Nov. 22, 2015]  Wen Wei Po reports that the Hong Kong Police Inspectors’ Association Chairperson Ngo Chi-hang has distributed four posters featuring pictures of disciplinary forces engaged in frontline law enforcement work, including one of the pro-democracy Occupy movement.  The posters ask the force and their friends and their families to “cast a ballot you will not regret”, vote for “a candidate that contributes to the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and only let “someone who does real work for the society” onto the Council. (HKFP)

[Oct. 15, 2015] Ken Tsang’s case: The police belatedly charges not only the 7 officers who beat him up a year ago, but also Tsang himself:

Seven police officers who allegedly beat up Occupy protester charged, one year on

Occupy activist allegedly assaulted by police to be charged with assaulting policeOccupy activist charged with assaulting and obstructing 15 police officers after ‘splashing liquid’ ; Yes to charges against cops but govt hits back with a low blow

Justice Sec’s says ‘no political considerations’ in Ken Tsang beating case, draws disbelief

‘Support the seven police officers’: Pro-gov’t groups rally to commemorate anti-Occupy movement

Having Ken Tsang and the seven police officers in court on the same day is not procedurally fair

Hong Kong democracy activists plan UN case over police ‘torture’

Amnesty: Ensure due process in case of protester assaulted by police

Satire Harmonious Hong Kong brings adversaries together for a fair cop-out

TVB reporters who caught the beating on film resisted order to tone down the incident and change wordings  (2014年10月15日 時事脈搏 無綫記者公開信:與高層分歧遭刪字眼(附全文))

Benson Tsang: Ken Tsang was handcuffed and then carried to the dark corner for beating (當時曾健超已經被捕並扣上手銬,根本已經沒有反抗能力,但一班警察竟然在眾目睽睽下將曾健超「齊心協力」抬到「暗角打鑊」。… 曾健超被捕後不是被帶上警車,竟然由一班「警員」有默契地將他反手背向天,然後抬往超過一百米以外的「喑角」毆打)


[Nov. 21, 2015] UN Committee Against Torture questions HK police’s use of force during Occupy protest

[Nov 10, 2015] Hong Kong gov’t mulls greater powers for surveillance commissioner

Proposed amendments to the Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance will give Hong Kong’s Commissioner on the Interception of Communications and Surveillance greater oversight into the conduct of the territory’s law enforcement agencies. In a set of recommendations submitted to the Legislative Council, the Security Bureau recommends empowering the Commissioner’s Office to use wiretapping and other eavesdropping devices to monitor law enforcement agencies for illegal breaches of Hongkongers’ privacy.

[Oct. 23, 2015]  Police abused their power when filming protester at close range, watchdog report finds

[Sep 27, 2015] Hong Kong police ‘friend’ request: force launches Facebook page to overcome post-Occupy negativity:

“Forcebook”, as some are already calling it… a primary aim is to re-build public confidence in the 28,000-strong force that went from heroes to zeros with a large section of the community thanks to their controversial handling of the Occupy protests that started a year ago this weekend…In December last year, a survey by the University of Hong Kong showed the police were the least popular among the city’s disciplined services… Another HKU poll, released in June this year, said the gap between the proportion of people satisfied with the police force and those dissatisfied with it was at its narrowest since the 1997 handover.

[Oct. 5] Not ‘liked’ genuinely enough: critical comments bombard the Hong Kong police force’s new Facebook page ; Police warn of ‘criminal consequences’ after Facebook page is flooded with abuse


[Sep 25, 2015] A policeman quits because the police have lost political neutrality【一年.同袍說】警隊中立不再 離職警員:無法認同同僚所為 vs a policewoman’s defense 香港警察,無處安放的「政治中立」誰伴我闖蕩 vs. 南柯一夢

[Sep. 26] 傘後.一年》:警棍下的傷痕

[Sep 26, 2015] Legal scholar calls for database of false police testimony after Occupy cases reveal unreliability

[Sep 25] Action sought on cops who bear false witness against protesters

only 209 or 22 percent of the 955 protesters arrested during the Umbrella Movement have been prosecuted as of July, Ming Pao Daily reported. Also, 40 of the 140 cases in which a verdict was delivered ended up with the charges dismissed or the defendants exonerated, the report said.

[Sep. 24] [一年.檢控統計】佔領200控罪審結 定罪率不足三成 濫控錯漏多

[Sep. 26] Dubious police evidence against Hong Kong Occupy protesters has shifted burden of proof in court cases: “Strange”, “dubious” and “impossible” are among the adjectives magistrates have used in dismissing police evidence in other cases against Occupy participants.

[Sep. 23] [一年 ‧ 警亂作供】檢控佔領者 警員證供屢被法官指不可信、矛盾、不符影片

[Sep 24] Police watchdog yet to investigate 7 officers behind alleged beating of Occupy protester, 10 months on

[Sep 15] Occupy protester who ‘jogged’ towards police lines found not guilty:  

A 27-year-old chef who was accused by police of charging cordon lines “at a jogging pace” during the pro-democracy Occupy protests last October has been found not guilty of obstructing a police officer… The footage then showed him running to avoid being hit by police pepper spray… He then fell over and was subdued by the police. The evidence contradicted the testimony given by police officer Ho Yu-hin, who claimed that the defendant repeatedly charged police cordon lines. Ho also said that he had assisted in overpowering the defendant, but there was no sign of Ho throughout the video.

[Sep 14-5] Police rewrite history of 1967 Red Guard riotsWhy are the police tampering with 1967 riots history?以過來人身份為警改六七暴動史護航 葉國謙:難道手無寸鐵的學生也是「暴徒」?

[July 20]  Police ask watchdog to review finding cop assaulted protesters with video

The Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO), part of the police force, has suggested Hong Kong’s police watchdog reconsider its decision that a senior officer assaulted Occupy protesters last year, Apple Daily reported. On July 10, the members of the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) concluded on a 12-6 vote that Superintendent Chu King-wai used his baton to beat two passersby during a clearing operation in Mong Kok in November and was suspected of abusing his power.

[July 22] Used baton as ‘extension of my arm’, says police officer

[July 23] Police watchdog upholds ruling that top officer assaulted Occupy protester

[July 23] Police officers are ‘bullied’ by provocative protesters, claims police watchdog chairman

[July 16]  A Hong Kong Woman Just Got Convicted of Assaulting a Police Officer With Her Breast The extent of the officer’s physical injuries was not revealed;  Protesters march to High Court over ‘breast assault’ conviction

[July 27]  Public trust in police force reaches new low – survey

[June 11]  HKU POP releases popularity figures of Hong Kong disciplinary forces and the PLA Hong Kong Garrison

[June 16] Civil groups urge police reforms after damning Occupy report

In a report titled “Police Power in Umbrella Movement”, Professional Commons, a non-profit public think tank, said police excesses may have led to at least 2,067 citizens suffering physical or mental trauma.

The report, which was prepared in association with Hong Kong In-Media, an online media group, covered the period between September 26 and December 15 last year, when police sought to quell the Occupy street protests with a heavy hand, Apple Daily reported.

Professional Commons and Hong Kong In-Media jointly set up a database on police violence to help victims seek justice. ….

The report also pointed out that only 48 of the 955 arrested protesters during the occupy Movement, or 5.03 percent, have been prosecuted as of May, compared to the 12-86 percent prosecution rate range for protesters each year in the past.

In addition, people were convicted in only 11 of 32 cases where a verdict has been delivered. That marks a conviction rate of 34 percent, also clearly lower than the 47-53 percent range before.

The figures suggest that the police had abused their power in making arrests, the report said.

A FB page that posts videos showing police violence 嚴正要求警方停止暴力對待市民

The Civic Front asks the police watchdog to produce reports on alleged abuses during the umbrella movement:


[Feb. 27] Amnesty voices concern over HK freedom of gathering & speech  港警佔領十二宗罪 違反《人權法案》


The Decline of Hong Kong’s Police: It’s becoming the long arm of Chinese law

[July 9] Justice re: police violence against protestors? Retiring police official in alleged assault faces review (with video)

While the police have been super-efficient in arresting protestors, they have taken the time to handle cases against protestors and journalists: For Hong Kong’s Most Famous Victim Of Police Violence, Justice Is ElusiveOnly 3 out of 13 cases of violence against journalists in 19 years have been solved 19年13宗針對傳媒罪案 成功拉人僅3宗; and A year after brutal attack, Kevin Lau still awaits justice

[May 14] Police face more questions over wrongful arrest of autistic man; the police refused to provide an English translation of the not-quite apology to the autistic man 【誓死不講apology或sorry?】為拉錯人表「抱歉」 警方堅持不提供英文翻譯

[July 29] Among 955 arrested, 100 have to “face legal consequences” 955名佔領被捕者 至今100人需「承擔法律後果」 40人無罪獲釋

[Mar. 28] The police arrested 1726 people but charged under 10% for lack of evidence 警去年遊行集會拘1726人 不足一成被起訴


Man arrested during the shopping revolution in Mongkok was released as the police provided contradictory evidence  到旺「購物」男子被控阻差不成立 警證供前後矛盾. Plan to sue the chief prosecutor for compensation: 涉煽惑非法集結獲撤控 陳白山擬向律政司索償

Two police officers made the same mistake in their testimonies against reporters 稱記者襲警 兩警口供同寫「農和道」被指夾口供

[Mar. 19] The six common charges against umbrella protestors:  抗命時代 警方常用/濫用的六條控罪



The police have put the burden to prove innocent on the shoulders of the accused

Man cleared of ‘throwing’ barricades at police after news footage emerges

警片段證警先襲擊再拘捕 設計師獲撤襲擊罪 警曾稱「沒案發片段」



Police launch internal review of how they handled Occupy Central protestsAssistant commissioner to review police conduct during protests

Hong Kong police stress use of public order law against ‘fishy’ gatherings

All police officers are to enforce laws governing public order “more strictly” to prevent any “suspicious” gathering of at least three people from turning into a protest, according to a new guideline from the top cited by multiple police sources…  If necessary, another source said, the crack Police Tactical Unit would be deployed to patrol the streets. The stipulated enforcement actions are provided for under the ordinance, which since 1967 has outlawed any gathering of three or more people without police permission. The law came into force that year to crack down on pro-Beijing leftist riots against British colonial rule. It was briefly relaxed during the final years ahead of the handover – so protest organisers need only notify the police of their plans – but was reversed after 1997, making it a must to obtain prior police approval.

Security review at Hong Kong’s Legco recommends searches of reporters

[Feb. 14, 2015] Hong Kong police force set for manpower boost after shortcomings exposed by Occupy: Hush-hush plan would see 500 new posts used to strengthen units that manage public order after pro-democracy sit-ins exposed limitationsPolice seek more manpower and equipment after Occupy

[Feb. 15, 2015] Hong Kong police pulled down more web content in last four months than in previous four years: Force insists content is criminal but activists say they are targeting online political organising as rise coincided with Occupy

[Mar. 28] The police plan to buy 3 water cannon trucks that can eject colored liquids 警擬斥資2700萬元購3輛特別用途車 可噴染色液體


[Mar. 29]  Police to beef up ability to gather evidence against protesters;  [Sep 29, 2015] 成立新「搜證小隊」,警權更加張狂?

Pepper spray and police batons seem to have become the new normal, even inside shopping malls. The “shopping revolution” is mutating into an anti-shopping revolution, with Civic Passion and HK Indigenous protesting against “parallel traders” from mainland China. The police used pepper spray first in Tuen Mun and then in Shatin. Protestors should maintain nonviolent discipline so that police force backfires on the police rather than on protestors.

In Yuen Long on Mar. 1: Police use pepper spray amid chaotic scenes as protest against traders continues into the night; 圖輯】【水貨圍城】亞視記者被警胡椒噴霧「洗臉」; 【水貨圍城】警稱黑衣女企圖搶犯 網民質疑


See Fresh clashes in New Territories protest against parallel traders. See video at【水貨圍城】百人阻拉人推冧貨架 警出胡椒噴霧



[June 29] Do Hong Kong localists hate dancing? Sunday night’s protest in Mong Kok

… bear in mind the enormous effort the police had invested in detaining this single person, and then how hands off they became once things got really serious and laws were blatantly broken.

… If getting the Beijing loyalists in was impressive, extracting them was a military operation to behold. The police effectively made an impenetrable blue tunnel for them to scurry through. It was an epic, superstar treatment fit for a king.  Needless to say, tensions were now off the charts and most importantly, confidence of the “blue ribbons” in the area was at an all time high. The police had demonstrated in spectacular fashion which side they were rooting for, and so the fighting began.

At this point, let us remind ourselves of the first localist arrested – the man was chased 100 metres down the road, hog-tied and carried onto the police van by six officers. Yet when the police were now confronted with victims of assault, with obvious signs of injury and multiple people wanting to give statements, the police let them go. No hog-tying, no violent police takedowns and no pepper spraying. Those accused of the assaults were given the friendly shoulder tap and released out of sight.

…  All in all, the night was a sad example of just how much energy the police will spend on detaining localists, while going to great lengths to avoid detaining their own so called supporters.

The aunties never featured in the night, not even for a minute. The night was never about dancing. The localists chose the dancing because they knew it would raise alarms with the authorities, and true to form, the Hong Kong police showed once again that they are now just a paramilitary force set up to defend the mainland Chinese. They are happy to let clear assaults pass by in plain sight, so long as those assaulting support mainland China.

Another video

[July 1] Andy Tsang was rewarded with a Bauhinia award for his hardline on the Umbrella Movement 處理佔領有功 曾偉雄獲金紫荊星章

Hard assessments of the retired police chief Andy Tsang 曾偉雄退休在即 — 回顧慈母、黑影的天方夜譚 ; 誰在辱警?人必自侮,而後人侮之






[May 13] Here’s what is wrong with police identification parade:

three assault suspects and fillers in a police lineup were allowed to wear face masks and shower caps, making it impossible for their victims to make a positive identification. The three are accused of assaulting television journalists during last year’s democracy protests. Police officials later announced they had decided not to press charges due to lack of evidence, prompting the justice department to clarify that what they meant was they needed to investigate further.

[May 13] Albert Cheng bristles at police remark to sales staff:

Albert Cheng, founder of internet radio D100, said the policemen came to the shop in the Sheung Wan MTR station on Tuesday. One of the officers told a staffer: “So you people are members of the yellow ribbons”, Cheng was quoted as saying by Metro Daily Wednesday… Cheng said the officers might have engaged in political harassment which is a violation of their supposed neutrality.

The police’s intimidation of protestors is also contrasted with their inability to arrest criminals, esp. a gunman who stole luxury watches on Mar. 12:


[Mar. 30] 練乙錚:香港有淪為Police State的傾向

[June 29] Scholarism leader Joshua Wong, girlfriend attacked after movie 

[July 28] Collusion between triads and politicians? 新義安總管大壽 政黑俾面雲集夜宴


In clearing Occupy Mongkok, the HK police again forgot the Sep. 28 lesson that the excessive use of force can only backfire rather than silence dissent, and that massive arrests can only strengthen rather than weaken determined protestors. By beating up and arresting even passers-by, the police also achieve the counterproductive effect of sending more people to support hard-core protestors. (See

Worse, some police actions show worrying signs that HK is starting to descend into a police state. This is what wikipedia says: The term “police state” has “taken on the emotional and derogatory meaning of a government that exercises power arbitrarily through the police.” Here is a longer, more academic, elaboration:

“Decisions of state leaders come in two basic forms, routine and exceptional. The implementation of routine decisions means that state officials in their regular practice attempt to fulfill and comply with standing laws and procedures that govern their activities. In contrast, the implementation of exceptional decisions comes when bureaucrats obey an order from an authorized state superior, such as a president or governor, that comes in response to specific circumstances that may be discretionary, or even potentially unlawful, under existing rules. For example, when the police investigate crimes defined by law, this is consistent with the implementation of routine decisions. When the police implement an order to overlook the crimes of a political ally of the leader, or frame political opponents of the leader for a crime they did not commit, this represents compliance with exceptional decisions.” (p.16)  “Analysts of law enforcement have noted the potentially wide gap between ‘police power,’ in terms of the formal laws and rules that regulate police functions, and ‘police action’, the actual behavior of the police.” (p. 34)

“Overall, under Vladimir Putin, the Russian state showed a much greater capacity and willingness to deploy state coercive organs against opposition political parties, candidates, and groups. Russia’s power ministries were able to respond to exceptional tasks set by the state leadership in terms of fixing elections and cracking down on opposition demonstrations.” (p.99)”Power ministry personnel are more oriented toward serving their own personal interests or those of the powers that be than those of society as a whole; predation and repression dominate  over protection in terms of law enforcement behavior and norms.” (p. 288) “to the extent that this regime of repression became institutionalized, attacks on regime opponents stopped being extraordinary tasks and became routine ones. ” (p.303)

“Putin’s philosophy toward the use of the law seemed [to be]: ‘for my friends, everything; for my enemies, the law.’” (p.106) “A Russian NGO noted that almost all opposition demonstrations were banned or dispersed by the police … At the same time, pro-Kremlin groups…  had no difficulty conducting marches and rallies. This is clear evidence that the new regime of repression was deployed in an exceptional fashion against antigovernment forces and was not simply part of a stronger capacity to uphold public order during legal demonstrations.” (p.98)

“What is ‘disorder’ in the eyes of a man in uniform? It’s the absence of control. If there is not control, there is the possibility of independent influence… The Duma [legislature] is not subordinate to the presidential administration? Disorder… Political parties wanted something, the mass media talked about something? All of this is disorder that must be liquidated. And they liquidated it. In seven year [under Putin], the chekists [security ministries] have completely changed the political system in the country, not changing one letter of the Constitution.” (p.62)

“as Charles Tilly famously argued, state building looks an awful lot like organized crime” (p.308)

(Brian D. Taylor, State Building in Putin’s Russia: Policing and Coercion after Communism, Cambridge University Press, 2011.)

Coincidentally, Chinese president Xi Jinping calls the judiciary a ‘knife’:

In an important meeting in early January, Xi stated that the party must ensure “the handle of the knife is firmly in the hands of the party and the people.”… Xi’s speech and the subsequent hoopla about the revival of the knife metaphor in state-owned media makes clear that the party still sees the police and courts as weapons, not neutral actors charged with enforcing the law. (China’s President Raises Eyebrows with Sharp Rhetoric on Rule of Law)

HK isn’t quite a police state yet. But the police are no longer the same police that I used to know. When I was little, my mom always told me: if you are lost and separated from mommy, don’t trust anyone else but the police uncles and aunties; ask them for help and they will reunite you with us. When my girl was little, I told her the same thing. Fast forward to today, that trust is gone for good. People are probably having nightmares about ferocious police officers wielding batons, shooting pepper solution and firing tear gas.

The HK police then and now:

攜手滅罪.守護香港 (雨傘運動真實紀念版)


The police are supposed to be impartial, serving the public interest and applying the law without regard to political affiliations. But that long-cherished neutrality has been eroded under CY’s watch. (See a blog post on police neutrality by a friend of the police 香港警察,竭力中立 and Li Yi on professionalism  專業)

During the clearing operation in Mongkok, it seems as if the police became fearful of HK people, beating up and arresting reporters and passers-by as well as protestors. The police are clearly trying to prevent re-occupation of Mongkok by protestors. And occupy supporters started to answer CY Leung’s call to “go shopping in Mongkok.” But how could the police distinguish protestors from ordinary passers-by in a place like Mongkok? I have always found Mongkok extremely crowded, so crowded that it can be difficult to stop to look at things without getting pushed by people behind me. If the police have no tolerance for crowds, they may as well shut down Mongkok altogether.  Protestors have cynically remarked that the police are imposing curfew in Mongkok. That may well be the only way to keep Mongkok free of crowds, but that would be tantamount to declaring “war” on HK people (in the language of theories of state-society relations). It would also be the sure way to kill HK’s economy as well as freedom, and in full sight of the world. See Thousands of police stationed in Mong Kok to stop Occupy protesters re-taking the streets

When police neutrality goes, so go the rule of law and press freedom. See “the freedom without democracy model is broken.” And it is more broken today than a week ago.

[Jan. 14, 2015]  Occupy protests a disaster for police, says frontline officer

Ah Fung (not his real name) is a typical police officer, politically neutral, always ready to obey his superiors and serve the public….  What frustrated Fung most was that the police viewed themselves as a tool of the government rather than law enforcers. Fung insists that the government intervened in the operations of the police. In the police academy, cadets were told that police serve the people by executing the law, and not by serving the administration…  Fung also revealed that members of the police management have instilled the thinking that the protesters were the enemy. “It was like a culture that has spread throughout the squad, we were led to believe that we should support the police no matter what,” he said.

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Unity and leadership are critical to success–why it is wrong to advocate “there are no organizers but only ordinary people, no orders but only commonsense”

[Updated on Mar. 20, 2015]

See also “almost a revolution


I am increasingly troubled by the challenges of what Patten calls “rowdies” to the movement’s mainstream. All over the world, unity is what makes or breaks a movement. Occupiers share the same goal of genuine universal suffrage. If there are disagreements over strategies and tactics, talk them over. People fighting for democracy have to demonstrate that they can resolve differences through democratic methods. It is not surprising that international media are now talking about “rift” and “split” rather than order and discipline.

Hong Kong Protesters Face the Limits of Their Power: Disorganized and divided, the pro-democracy movement is losing steam

After 50 days, rifts emerge among Hong Kong’s protesters

Hong Kong democracy movement split in protest-weary city 

A Struggle for the Soul of Hong Kong’s Protest Movement

Hong Kong’s House, Divided

Unity, planning, and discipline are the three ingredients to all successful movement. And planning and discipline are not possible without unity. Unity, in turn, is a function of leadership. Don’t be fooled by the perception that this is a leaderless movement. Successful movements have decentralized leadership, but there has to be a leadership nonetheless. See post on leadership. If everyone acts out of his or her own judgement of what is right or wrong, then you get a Hobbesian world. The position that  “there are no organizers but only ordinary people, no orders but only commonsense” as shown in the Passion Times’ profile picture (they are not alone,  other “rowdies” are also anarchists) can only hurt the movement. The slogan  is also simply untrue and hypocritical — as those who lead Civic Passion are clearly leaders while challenging mainstream leaders.



One question is if the movement should stay or withdraw (there is a difference between withdrawal, which is more tactical, and retreat, which is more passive).《佔領故事》:佔領區內外對撤離與否民意分歧 At issue also is if the movement should escalate. According to the Civic Passion:

“The Occupy campaign needs to be taken to a new level,” he said in an interview. “There needs to be escalation, occupation of more areas or maybe government buildings. The campaign at this stage has become too stable.”

Was it wise to escalate by storming the Legislative Council building on Nov. 18? Members of Civic Passion ( are indignant that other protestors blame them, but Passion Times has various posts justifying the act. (A colleague suggests that justifying is not the same as advocating. I am not sure why Passion Times would bother to justify something that they don’t advocate. But I am a boring academic and I grant this analytical distinction.) It could be the work of “the Golden boys“. And see this disclosure by an anarchist.  Whichever organization “the rowdies” belong to, why not learn from experiences from around the world?

Artists calling for unity:香港藝術家關注示威作品召集群組-Hong-Kong-Artists-concern-protest-art/283372865206454



Listen to “Long Hair” : “Prominent Hong Kong activist says protesters need to unify, strategize“:

The diffuse nature of the protest leadership may have helped perpetuate the demonstrations – but also has limited protesters’ ability to forcefully unite and agree on a strategy to bring more pressure to bear on government authorities. Leung’s remarks came as two founders of Occupy Central, university professors Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man, announced they have resumed their university teaching duties after a month spent mainly at the protest zone in the Admiralty district, near government headquarters.

Another hero of radicals: Patten said that “I am sad” about what “the rowdies” did, referring to the storming of the Legco building last week. He wasn’t even asked about this at the CECC testimony but made a point of giving this advice to HK protestors. See At the CECC hearing, everyone expressed concern about the storming act — here is how the movement could lose international support with a single act!





罷課最終迫使自由黨在選舉中落敗,當選的魁北克人黨撤回加學費方案,並廢除議案 78 (一條類似香港《公安條例》的法例)。而這場全民運動的成功秘訣,原來只在「團結」二字,而要做到團結,則是由一個從下而上的全民決策模式所達成。

CLASSE 在罷課前舉行多次全民大會,讓支持和反對罷課的學生申述自己所持立場的理據,而且每次發言並非空談,必須提出一些方案、計劃、行動,最後讓學生以直接民主的形式作出重要決策:以投票決定開始罷課,亦以投票決定結束罷課。

Julien 說:「We are get used to the general assembly.(我們已經習慣全民大會。)」直接民主已成為魁北克學生的傳統,因此就開始罷課與否投票時,即使支持和反對的聲音相約,雙方都會尊重投票結果,尊重罷課的決定。的確,由下而上的決策模式費時間、耗精力,但這種方式最能避免因欠缺討論而出現的矛盾和爭執。

提倡「沒有大會」的組織 ─ 訪本土民主前線黃台仰

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Bridging the generation gap at home?

See also “Why teenagers are protesting.”

Occupiers have been trying to mobilize more support for genuine universal suffrage. They are going out of the bubbles of occupy sites to different neighborhoods. However, wherever they go, they are surrounded by anti-occupiers.

Maybe young students can bridge the generation gap at home first? Many don’t dare talk to their anti-occupy parents and would go home only while their parents are out at work. If they can withstand counterprotestors who curse them and spit at them, why not convince parents, grandparents, and aunties and uncles who love them?

Young students have shown their determination for genuine universal suffrage by camping out, sweeping the streets, recycling garbage, and cleaning toilets. Why not also show their determination and transformation to parents? Clean up their rooms and apartments, make dinners for parents, and sit down for a long chat on what they are fighting for? Every parent in the world can be easily melted by the good son/daughter.

Schoolgirl Protester Risks Future for Hong Kong Democracy Fight

Confrontations as Occupy activists hold roadshows

Many parents are opposed to the Umbrella Movement. Students have written open letters to their parents explaining why they are occupying:


一個坐在金鐘多天沒幫媽媽做家務的不肖子:爸爸媽媽,請讓我們去 為自已的未來奮闘

屋邨仔自白:我愛父母 所以選擇佔領


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Fight or flight? Voice or exit?

Executive Council member Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun said that her friend floated the idea of emigration because of “fears about the students, rather than the Communist Party.” Occupy supporters are furious, saying that people are emigrating “because of people like you”:  移民係因為有羅范椒芬你呢班人呀! A one-year-old RTHK documentary shows that HK’s professionals began to re-/emigrate in droves last year — as a result of the erosion of HK’s core values under CY Leung’s government.

驪歌再唱 00:21:56 2013-10-06 

保安局最新統計數字,港人移民數字回升,今年上半年已有近四千人,較去年同期上升近一成。「移民」一詞彷彿是九七回歸前後的熱門話題,直至近年,香港人又將移民一詞掛在口邊。 「為了下一代,當年爸爸媽媽帶我們移民加拿大,今天我身為父母,亦決定帶兒子移民。」任職銀行的夫婦,事業基礎穩固,因不滿教育制度,決定回流加拿大。 「賭上人生所有東西來台灣重新生活,並不代表我勇敢,反而是無奈,回香港生活可以怎樣?」年輕一輩,不適應香港的發展模式,為了將來,大半年前移居台灣,到他鄉闖一闖。 「香港前景黯淡,變得越來越陌生」有去年參與反國教運動的專業人士,眼見近半年的政治亂局,也正醞釀移民。 離開土生土長的地方,連根拔起,重新開始是一個重大的決定,各有原因,唯一共通點是他們都認為香港這個家,不再宜居。

The Umbrella Movement actually restored hope for many. At Occupy Admiralty, it has not been difficult to find people who returned from abroad to play a part in rewriting HK’s history. However, those hopes are dashed again by government intransigence. Since the 1980s and especially after 1989, HK people have long opted to flight rather than fight. This is what Albert Hirschman calls exit vs. voice. See his “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty.” What is actually more unusual is the determination of the young generation to fight rather than to flight this time. Moreover, for those who choose/have chosen exit, they have combined it with voice and have in fact helped to spread the struggle for genuine universal suffrage farther than before. The message for Fanny Law is this: Don’t hold your breath that the problem will go away with another wave of exits.

[Oct. 19, 2015] Tsang Yok-sing also quotes Hirschman to explain why he is criticizing Beijing’s HK policy and the Leung administration 忠誠發聲:

政治經濟學家赫希曼(Albert Hirschman)的經典著作《退出、發聲與忠誠》(Exit, Voice and Loyalty,1970年出版),指出當一個組織開始衰敗時,對它失去信心的成員可能作出兩種回應:「退出」(離開組織)或者「發聲」(用溫和以至激烈的方式向組織提出批評意見,促使組織改進)。赫希曼分析了這兩種回應方法跟成員們對組織的忠誠程度的關係:一般來說,忠誠程度愈高的成員,愈願意通過「發聲」去嘗試令組織改善;忠誠程度低的,則較易「退出」組織。這理論適用於一家公司、一個城市以至一個國家。

Also 四種反應



Another wave of exodus after Occupy?

[Jan. 21 2016] It’s Time to Start Hedging on Hong Kong: Beijing’s brazen behavior should make investors and residents reconsider the city’s future

The 3rd emigration wave: why this time is different:  In a survey done by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups earlier this year, 62 percent (more than three in five) of the young people interviewed said they hope to emigrate. The proportion has not been as high since the handover in 1997.

Over 60% of young Hongkongers hope to emigrate, poll shows

Giving Up on Hong Kong

[Jan. 23, 2015]  Hongkongers moving to Taiwan in droves, buying up homes; challenges they confront  落地生根難

[April 15] Dramatic upsurge in the no. of HK students applying to study abroad after occupy 雨傘運動後 赴英升學港生大增

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