Views from China — and why don’t HK protestors reach out to mainland Chinese?

[updated on Feb. 8, 2016]

In other struggles for autonomy, one of the key strategies is to reach out to the core/dominant population. In HK, protestors have made no efforts to mobilize support from mainland Chinese or  break the Great Fire Wall. There are several reasons.

1) It is difficult enough to fight for autonomy for HK. Consciously spilling the umbrella movement across the border could give Beijing an excuse to crackdown. However, mainland Chinese are of course watching…

2) HK people have acquired an increasingly local identity, considering themselves as “HK people” ahead of “Chinese.” There has also been growing anti-mainlandization. Some people are happy that the occupy movement has caused mainland tourists to cancel their trip. “Suddenly the streets are not swamped by mainland tourists.”

3) Hong Kong people speak Cantonese rather than Mandarin. Cantonese is a different language/dialect that is incomprehensible to mainland Chinese. (The Economist explains dialect vs. language. See also “Cantonese almost became the official language“.)

4) It is very difficult for Hong Kong protestors to reach out to mainland Chinese not just because of the language barrier, but also because of Chinese nationalism. If mainland Chinese do not know what is going on in HK because of heightened censorship, Chinese students studying abroad show little sympathy for HK because nationalism hinders understanding. For mainland Chinese, the return of HK to the motherland in 1997 marked the end of the “century of humiliation.” Many do not understand why HK people are not grateful to the motherland.

Mainland Chinese youth remain cool to Hong Kong’s democracy fever:

After the Hong Kong unrest erupted in late September, China’s state media were briefly gagged. Soon, though, they were firing salvos of criticism at the protesters. Besides, China’s internet firewall is porous, so it is virtually impossible to block news of such magnitude. There are many tools available to get round attempts at censorship.

Instead, China’s continuing economic stability is the primary reason mainlanders are seemingly unconcerned with the Hong Kong protests. The country’s rapid economic progress has brought wealth and comfort, as well as a fear and loathing of politics.

For their part, the Hong Kong protesters simply want their grievances to be heard by Beijing. They have no desire for their protests to spill over to the mainland. Thus, the protests have neither appealed to nor affected the lives of those across the border.

See 我係大中華膠?


Official views:

Forget about starting a Chinese ‘colour revolution’ in Hong Kong, People’s Daily blasts

People’s Daily says that the Umbrella Movement is an independence movement:

China said to pull the strings in Hong Kong crackdown. By: Keith Bradsher and Chris Buckley, NY Times, October 17, 2014

Hong Kong crackdown reveals China’s fear of contagious rebellion

From Tibet to Taiwan, China’s Periphery Watches Hong Kong Protests Intently:

Beijing has imposed much stricter internet censorship to quarantine HK from the rest of China:

How mainlanders see the Hong Kong protests– China’s censors have shifted their tactics from blocking news about the Hong Kong protests to waging a carefully orchestrated propaganda war to smear the movement.


Mainland dissidents are inspired:

[April 17] How Chinese students are embracing our core values90 percent of the respondents admire Hong Kong’s core values such as press freedom, government checks and balances and protection of private property… The survey was conducted by Roundtable, an academic research group, which interviewed 500 young Chinese studying in Hong Kong.

​Visitors From the Mainland Get Taste of Democracy in Hong Kong, by Matthew Robertson:

This man’s card reads: “25 years ago, people in Hong Kong stood up for people in Beijing: Today, I, a Beijing resident representing 110 democracy loving Netizens in China, take the side of the people in Hong Kong! Freedom will prevail. Dictatorship is doomed!”

from SCMP Oct. 6:

8.15pm: A group of more than 50 mainland lawyers, scholars and other citizens have issued a statement in support of Hong Kong people’s pursuit of democracy – while calling for democratic progress on the mainland.

In the statement signed by lawyers including human rights lawyer Teng Biao and others from different parts of the country, the group says Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying “misled” the national legislature into giving the city a framework for the 2017 chief executive election.

“[Leung] must be held responsible for misleading the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) with his report of political reform,” the statement read. “He must listen to the advice of different social sectors and make remedial measures.”

“At the same time we feel that China is closely linked to Hong Kong’s,” it says. The group strongly demands the NPCSC to start, without hesitation, legislating for the direct elections of deputies to local people’s congresses at provincial and municipal levels, “so that people’s rights to elect and to be elected are implemented and a government by the people is built.”

The group also said it objects to any violence and human rights abuses. It notes that Hong Kong protesters’ demand for public nomination in the 2017 election is legitimate.

Chinese who expressed support have been arrested:

Young, Idealistic and Caught Up in a Wave of Detentions

Chinese poet faces jail for possession of umbrella


A call for a “surgical mask movement”:

The umbrella is not tolerated even in a fashion show: Umbrella Fashion Show Interrupted in Beijing, Designer and Models Arrested

German Newspaper Details Detention of Its Researcher in Beijing : “They have Miao”;

Crackdown on dissidents who expressed support for the umbrella movement:



Otherwise, many Chinese follow the party line:

Support for Protesters Is Hard to Find on the Streets of Beijing, By ANDREW JACOBS OCT. 9, 2014


HK people have a growing sense of HK identity:

Seeking Identity, ‘Hong Kong People’ Look to City, Not State

Poll finds fewer Hongkongers identifying as Chinese, thanks to Occupy :

Only 8.9 per cent of the 810 people polled last month identified themselves as “Chinese”, according to the telephone survey carried out by the university’s Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey. That was one of four options presented to respondents of the poll, 26.8 per cent of whom chose “Hongkongers” as their identity. Forty-two per cent chose “Hongkongers but also Chinese” and 22.3 per cent went with “Chinese but also Hongkongers”.

HK people are against mainlandization:

Aversion to Red:

But HK people welcome mainland Chinese who share HK’s “core values”

New Hongkongers


Thus the following support from mainlanders are widely shared:

Letter to Hong Kong Students: Tonight I Picked a Side:

生於亂世 有種責任——一個「中國勢力」的獨白




梁嘉瑜:來港三年馬先生:崇尚自由 所以來港

And a mainland visitor spent the whole trip at Occupy Admiralty:


26 歲內地遊客的感動。攝於政總門口的列儂墻。



來之前,特別興奮,做了好多攻略,打算去吃好吃的,逛許多店鋪。出發前一天,許多朋友提醒 我,HK現在有占中,非常不安全,建議我取消。



10月1 日我到達HK,帶著好奇心,來了這兒,然後立刻覺得,留在這兒,雖然我不是HK人,雖然我 的力量微不足道。

每一 天,我都被這兒濃濃的愛意感動著,比如那麼辛苦,卻從未見到任何一個人抱怨;比如道路那麼 整潔,嬌小的女生一人 拎著很大的垃圾袋;比如有衝突的時候,男生們永遠一躍而起,沖在最前頭,保護女生。

今天,10月7日,我就要結束旅行啦!雖然這7天的行程,都沒有逛商場,連頓像樣的飯都沒吃(哈哈,現在見到麥當勞就 想吐啊),但我想這也 許是我人生中最驕傲的日子。

26歲的我,至今哪怕去醫院抽血都會哭,怕疼,我一直以為自己很懦弱,沒想到那麼勇敢! 加油!HK! 一位內地遊客 2014.10.7”

Mail Attachment


Unfortunately, Mainland students become collateral targets after the occupy movement.



Yu Ying-shih, the most respected Chinese/China scholar, has this analysis in Chinese:


Explained on Ian Masters/NPR


Filed under Umbrella Movement

2 responses to “Views from China — and why don’t HK protestors reach out to mainland Chinese?

  1. Pingback: Umbrella Movement — Why is the Tiananmen analogy wrong? | Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement

  2. Pingback: We are all localists –真 . 本土 anyone who identifies with and defends HK’s core values/freedoms | Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement and Beyond

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