Category Archives: Umbrella Movement

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.

Hong Kong was promised a high degree of autonomy under a “one country, two systems” model by the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. In reality, Beijing has been eroding Hong Kong’s freedoms since the handover in 1997. The Chief Executive is hand-picked by Beijing through a 1200-person committee dominated by pro-Beijing sectors; the Legislative Council is designed to keep democratically elected legislators in a perpetual minority; the bureaucracy is headed by appointees who are chosen for their loyalty; the media are bought up by pro-Beijing businesses and university councils are packed with pro-establishment luminaries.

It was under this increasing onslaught against freedoms that the Umbrella Movement broke out in 2014. The city’s citizens called for genuine universal suffrage to ensure that top officials and legislators would be accountable to Hong Kong people rather than to Beijing. Despite 79 days of street occupation, the movement did not achieve its goal. Indeed, Beijing only redoubled its efforts to rein in Hong Kong to avoid Umbrella 2.0 in the aftermath.

The proposed extradition law, which would send `fugitives’ in Hong Kong across the border to China, would completely tear down the last firewall between the two systems. It would also legalize the kidnapping of Beijing’s wanted enemies such as the owners of the Causeway Bay Bookstore.


Anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong on 7th July/Studio Incendo*

Fear of the extradition bill drove one million (out of a population of seven million) to the street on 9th June. Protestors sang Do You Hear the People Sing, but the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam apparently did not hear them. She announced that the bill would continue with its second reading on 12th June as scheduled. Tens of thousands of protestors surrounded the LegCo building to derail the legislative process. The police declared the protest a “riot” and fired rubber bullets as well as tear gas. After widespread denunciation of the police’s excessive use of violence, Lam finally suspended the bill on 15th June.

Yet, Hong Kong people want the bill completely withdrawn. They understand that the government has enough pro-establishment votes at the LegCo if it decides to push through the bill later. On the ensuing Sunday, 16th June, two millions swamped the streets again, demanding not just the full withdrawal of the bill, but also the dropping of the label “riot” and all charges against the arrested. Lam remained unmoved by the massive demonstration of popular sentiments.

Young protestors began to take more diverse actions to step up the pressure. They called for a picnic at Tamar Park outside the government offices building on 21st June. (Organizers did not seek a no-objection permit from the police, thus rendering protest technically illegal.) Interestingly, the government decided to paralyze itself by closing government offices. Protestors moved that night to blockade the police headquarters.

Protestors further seized on the upcoming G20 summit on 28th June to mobilize international attention. They launched a `marathon’ to present petitions at the consulates of all 19 countries (20 minus China) on 26th June. They crowd-sourced HK$6 million to place full-page ads in leading international newspapers on 27th and 28th June.

Crowd-sourced full-page advertisement in the Guardian/DimSum Daily*

Carrie Lam, who is doing Beijing’s bidding, would not budge despite all these concerted efforts. A doomsday mood again took over, which was only momentarily broken by the million-strong marches. Not even suicide could move her or her backers. Moreover, given that the government had declared the protests on 12th June and 1st July “riots,” the arrests will be massive and the crackdown will be severe, most likely more than the aftermath of the Umbrella Movement.

International media have been analyzing how Hong Kong’s student activists can teachmovements elsewhere on how to organize a leaderless movement. It is time that Hong Kongers also learn lessons from other movements.

Hong Kong’s young people see their fight as a one-off last stand to preserve the freedoms that they have grown up with. But it is as much a prolonged struggle as epitomized in Nelson Mandela’s long walk to freedom. Seen from this perspective, protestors should reconsider their protest tactics. They have to be less reliant on dramatic but costly methods such as the storming of the LegCo, and adopt less costly but more sustainable methods.

Protestors are mistaken to think that their efforts in the past weeks were all futile. The flash protests that gathered and dispersed at will outside achieved the unprecedented feat of paralyzing government operations. In addition to such methods of concentration that call for large gatherings at specific sites, other civil disobedience cases suggest that Hong Kong should diversify to include methods of dispersal such as targeted boycott against pro-establishment businesses and targeted support for pro-democracy supporters. Diversified and dispersed methods are more suitable to the long haul because they minimize both the risk of arrest and the need to miss school or work. They allow ordinary citizens to take everyday actions while carrying on with their lives.

Student activists also have to be self-sustaining by continuing with their liberal education, learning new skills, and making a living. Given that universities are now headed by pro-Beijing academics, it is important that young students fight for freedoms on campus as well as in the street.

Hong Kong’s youthful activists could also learn the lesson to focus on achievements, however small they are, in order to maintain the momentum. In long walks, success and failure are never easily defined. Beyond hardcore protestors who are willing to risk everything, most citizens come out when they believe that their participation can make a difference. The Umbrella Movement was demobilized very quickly because supporters concluded that their efforts were futile. Protestors are right to press Carrie Lam to completely withdraw the bill, but they should claim a small victory in forcing her to suspend the bill on 15th June – an outcome that was unimaginable only days ago on 9thJune and 12th June. There is a simple logic to why the number of demonstrators doubled from one million on 9th June to two million on 16th June, after Lam had announced suspension of the bill. Protestors on 9th June were driven by the fear of extradition, those on 16th June were motivated by the hope of change as well.

Most importantly, all successful movements have leadership, unity and strategic planning. The LegCo storming illustrates the limits of impromptu, leaderless actions. Protestors are correct that clear leaders would be subject to prosecution, but a sustainable movement requires leadership. The movement can maintain its decentralized structure, but it needs better coordination and strategic planning for the long game. This Teenager Versus Superpower struggle (the title of a documentary on Joshua Wong) needs all the lessons that it can draw from the world even while it is adding to the global repertoire of dissent.

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

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.

If the storming of the Legco building has not recreated the rifts that had paralyzed the Umbrella Movement of 2014, it is partly because activists, from moderate to radical, have learned the lesson and are self-conscious of the need to stay united. It is also because Carrie Lam’s deafness to the millions-strong peaceful protests made the youngsters’ escalation seem justifiable. Media interviews in the past week suggest that even those who disagree with any use of violence are sympathetic to the young people.

This sympathy, however, should not be taken for granted. There is no guarantee that opposition unity could survive another violent act.

Studies of movements around the world show that nonviolence is more forceful than violence because violence always backfires on those who wield it. The daring storming has rather limited backfire on the opposition this time only because the police’s firing of rubber bullets and beating of protestors, especially on June 12, are far more overwhelming.

It is noticeable that Carrie Lam learned her lesson too. When young protestors were storming into the Legco building, many observers saw a trap to catch all of the radicals in one act. Yet, the police refrained from on-site mass arrests, choosing instead to set up blockades around town to detain suspects. The Lam government seemed to understand that any mass police arrests at Legco would override the optic of protestors breaking into the building with metal bars. 

Protestors took the bait not because they were stupid, but because they wanted to make a symbolic statement when peaceful protests seemed to have failed to move Carrie Lam to completely withdraw the bill. The youngsters wanted to tell the world that the Legislative Council is not at all a democratic institution; rather, it is designed to put democratically electors in perpetual minority so that the government can push through any bills. 

But the risks of such a high-stake act are simply too much. Future actions should not be left to luck.  

Protestors are proud of following Bruce Lee’s wisdom to “be water.” This idea comes from the Sunzi Art of War’s advice to use formlessless(無形)to overcome the strong. Breaking into the Legco building clearly violates the principle of being water/formless by entering into a “death trap” (死地) from which retreat would not be easy. 

More importantly, Sunzi would advise a strategic plan: “Know yourself and know your enemy”(知己知彼). However, the decision to smash the doors of the Legco building was made in an impromptu manner given the leaderless nature of the anti-extradition protests. In contrast, the Carrie Lam government does have a strategy to paint protestors as “violent rioters.” 

Maintaining nonviolent discipline in future actions should be the best counter-strategy.

And given that any Chief Executive, Carrie Lam or otherwise, is only doing Beijing’s bidding, the struggle to defend Hong Kong’s freedoms will be a prolonged one. As Nelson Mandela’s autobiography suggests, any “long walk to freedom” could take generations. 

The anti-extradition protests have taken on the air of the “last stand” against the complete erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy. A few have taken the ultimate form of protest: suicide. 

However, if the fight is a “long walk” rather than a one-off “last stand,” then protestors should reconsider their protest tactics. Protestors have to be less reliant on dramatic but costly methods such as the storming of the Legco, and adopt less costly but more sustainable methods.

Protestors are mistaken to think that their efforts in the past weeks were all futile. The flash protests that gathered and dispersed at will outside government offices achieved the unprecedented feat of paralyzing government operations. 

In addition to such “methods of concentration” that call for large gatherings at specific sites, protestors are also diversifying to “methods of dispersal” such as targeted boycott against pro-establishment businesses and targeted support for pro-democracy supporters. 

Protestors have so far focused on strength in numbers, but there is strength in the reach and depth of diversified and dispersed methods too.

Fluid protests are more suitable in the long fight because they minimize both the risk of arrest and the need to miss work or school. This is not to mention that young activists have to defend freedoms both on campuses/at work and in the streets.

To keep up the momentum, it is just as important to focus on achievements, however small they are. In “long walks,” success and failure are never easily defined. Beyond hardcore protestors who are willing to risk everything, including their own lives, most ordinary citizens take part when they believe that their actions matter. The Umbrella Movement was demobilized very quickly no less because supporters concluded that their efforts were futile. Protestors are right to press Carrie Lam to completely withdraw the bill, but they should claim a small victory in forcing her to suspend the bill on June 15 – an outcome that was unimaginable only days ago on June 9 and June 12. There is a simple logic to why the number of demonstrators doubled from 1 million on June 9 to 2 millions on June 16, after Lam had announced to suspend the bill. Protestors on June 9 were primarily driven by the fear of extradition, those on June 16 were motivated by the hope of people power as well.

All successful movements have sustained leadership, unity and strategy planning. The Legco storming illustrates the limit of leaderless actions. The movement can maintain its decentralized structure, but it needs better coordination and strategic planning for the long game. 

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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)

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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.

In the last phase of the anti-apartheid struggle in the 1980s, black Africans evaded martial law by organizing in a cell-like structure. Each neighborhood and unit formed a small committee. The struggle eventually succeeded because the various decentralized groups coordinated and strategized their economic boycott against white businesses.

In Serbia, the student body Otpor was instrumental in bringing down Slobodan Milosevicin 2000. During the struggle, Otpor would tell visitors and observers that they did not have a leader. In fact, the then little known Srdja Popovic was the leader coordinating a decentralized network of smaller groups formed at every school around the country.

In Eygpt during the Arab Uprisings, the young liberals really did not have leaders and did not build networks outside of the capital, Cairo. Thus, when elections happened, the Muslim Brotherhood won in a landslide and reconstituted a dictatorship. The military, in turn, took over and suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the young liberals.

HK protestors confuse decentralized leadership with leaderlessness. They are right that the movement should appear to be leaderless so that it can minimize the impact of repression. But the movement has managed to mobilize 2 million people because it nevertheless has a decentralized leadership composed of the Civil Human Rights Front, student unions, labor unions, neighborhood groups, Telegram chat groups and many more. As a legislator Kwong Chun-yu remarks, “while there is no center stage, there are many small stages.” The protestors have succeeded so far because they have coordinated their efforts. This is why participants and journalists are impressed by how organized the protests have been.

Now the worry is that this leaderless movement does not know what to do next and can easily fracture — as what happened to the umbrella movement in 2014. The protest on Wednesday, June 12 succeeded in blocking the scheduled legislative council meeting by 11am, but  protestors got agitated in the afternoon partly because there were conflicting messages about the next move.

Serbia’s Popovic tells activists around the world that the elements of any successful movements are unity, planning, and organization.

While the “small stages” should continue to be decentralized, they should deepen their coordination, planning the next moves together and maintaining unity.

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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.


A riot?

The police and the Chief Executive called the protest on Wed, June 12 a riot. The police chief has since walked back to say that they have charged only 5 people for rioting. What violence did protestors commit?

This video shows that, at multiple locations around the Legco building, the police retreated to lure protestors to storm forward. Once protestors were trapped, the police marched forward and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protestors trying to run away.

Some protestors were seen collecting bricks Wed morning. This NYT story “Bricks, Bottles and Tear Gas: Protesters and Police Battle in Hong Kong” mentions bricks but the embedded video does not show protestors throwing bricks. This account in Chinese suggests that 3-4 bricks were thrown at the police outside the Legco building:【6.12 再定性.2】一場事先張揚的升級行動 衝擊者們:我們目標是進佔立法會

There are pictures of protestors putting off teargas canisters that landed near them. We still have to see evidence that protestors threw teargas canisters back at the police. See Water on the Smoke ; Hong Kong protestors putting out tear gas canisters with water bottles as a team is almost metaphorical ; No, this photo does not show a Hong Kong protester hitting away a tear gas canister with a tennis racquet.

Protestors used barricades to try to break open the doors of CITIC, after the police fired tear gas at protestors outside of the Legislative Council building/CITIC building from both sides. The only escape was to get inside the CITIC building but only half a door was opened. Many participants remarked afterwards that it was a miracle that a stampede didn’t happen. See these videos:睇片-短片證警-6-12-狂射催淚彈夾擊中信大廈-民眾被圍無處可逃/突發/341093/逃犯條例-催淚煙困中信大廈-中年男憶千人-生死一刻龍匯道催淚彈現場直擊/

A retired pastor, Rev. Yuen Tin Yau, asked the press: “Who was the one who used violence? Who rioted? I believe it was the government who used its power to hurt the powerless Hong Kong people.”

The impression that protestors had thrown hard objects at the police suggests why it is so important to maintain nonviolent discipline. Even throwing water bottles and umbrellas could create bad optics for the world. What kind of pictures go to the front page? Disciplined nonviolent protests on the two Sundays vs. clashes and protestors throwing things on Wed.

How did the clashes start? This is the most detailed account of how the clashes with the police started: 【6.12 再定性.2】一場事先張揚的升級行動 衝擊者們:我們目標是進佔立法會;6.12 再定性.1】前言:這是一場「暴亂」嗎?

It is said that Carrie Lam backed down because of the clashes with the police. Is that correct?

Lam announced that she was going to suspend the bill on Saturday, June 15. The protest that turned violent happened on Wed, June 12. The violent clashes seemed to hand her the perfect excuse to label the protest a riot and praised the police’s use of force to quell the rioteers. The entire pro-establishment chorus followed the same party line. More likely than not, it was big business folks on the Executive Council and Legislative Council that really convinced Carrie Lam to back down — as suggested by NYT’s Keith Bradsher’s analysis, along with a Reuter story that the super rich were moving money out of HK. The time line suggests that the violent clashes had at most an indirect effect. In contrast, there is a stronger correlation between the disciplined nonviolent demonstration on Sunday, June 16, and her two apologies at the end of the day on June 16 and again on Tue., June 18.

Nonviolent discipline:

Legislators calling for nonviolence:

Christians initiated a new method to ease the tensions between protestors and the police, and to maintain nonviolent discipline: Praying together and singing Hallelujah nonstop to the police! This is a brilliant method to keep protestors united, calm and hopeful.

Rev. Wu Chi Wai: “We hoped to bring the presence of Christ there. We saw our roles as peacemakers placed between protesters and police to calm emotions.” (‘Sing Hallelujah to the Lord’ becomes the unofficial anthem in Hong Kong

‘Sing Hallelujah to the Lord’ Has Become the Anthem of the Hong Kong Protests


Boycott lists are coming:

Pro-extradition businesses for targeted boycott:「撐送中,撐警隊」商戶名錄
“Description集合支持送中條例,或認同警方暴力行徑之商戶,方便大家消費時作出精明選擇,請大家Bookmark備用,無謂貼錢買難受。當然,你想去感化下對方,亦都冇問題。 暫時只為憑一人在網上見到既資料加入,請大家幫手。報料專線:″
「士多」犯眾憎 港視王維基生意激增五成(股榮)

Boycott of companies that place ads with TVB + support of companies that pull out:  Sweat’-ing Bullets: ‘Biased’ TVB feeling protesters’ pinch after Pocari pulls ads ; mooncakes ; 10廣告商撤回TVB廣告

Calls to show up at the annual dinner of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of HK led to its cancellation


Support of pro-democracy artists:
何韻詩周柏豪葉德嫻專輯銷量爆升 網民:自己歌手自己救!

Call to withdraw money from mainland banks:

General strikes:

Over 100 Hong Kong employers pledge strike action against extradition bill, as Chief Exec. warns against ‘radical action’


Hong Kong protests against extradition bill may look like Occupy – but young, leaderless demonstrators have learned lessons from the past

How Hong Kong’s protesters find ways to outwit the surveillance state

Protest veterans have developed new tactics—but so have the police

Different camps are united this time: 大角咀社區平台


Hong Kong’s extradition bill protesters face challenges deciding their next step

Why did Hongkongers join million-strong march to protest extradition bill? It’s about protecting freedom, and it’s in their DNA

For HK’s youth, protests are a matter of life and death

Videos and photos of the protests:

How Big Was Sunday’s Protest in Hong Kong? These Aerial Images Show You

a drone video of the protest on June 12:

a drone video of the protest on June 16:

Hong Kong protests: Scale of the march in photos

How Hong Kong’s anti-extradition protesters besieged city’s legislature

photos from the frontlines

Video: Stunning drone footage captures the crowds and tear gas of Hong Kong’s dramatic week of protest

Video: Level of force used by Hong Kong police to clear protests questioned, as video clips go viral

Badiucao cartoon: Chinese artist satirises Hong Kong’s extradition bill debacle真-香港-清明上河圖-園境師出手-大白象工程-抗爭百態逐個數/?fbclid=IwAR35uqOkL-mhxfqaK2_5mJBTgvSJby3E_C8hIWCijqRnr7ejm5ohEon5rqw


The last stand/fight?

“the curse of living in the eternal immediate present is that the stakes for this “last fight” could not be higher, especially since young Hong Kongers fear that if they are defeated in this battle, there will be nothing left to lose.”

Many fear that HK’s ‘last battle’ is already lost




Hong Kong extradition bill explained

How Hong Kong’s Leader Made the Biggest Political Retreat by China Under Xi

Hong Kong developer walks away from HK$11.1 billion Kai Tak project, citing ‘social contradiction and economic instability’


Hong Kong’s Winding History

Hong Kong’s British Past Shapes Its Tense Present With China

History of Hong Kong protests: riots, rallies and brollies


[photo credit:港聞/article/20190616/s00001/1560646157926/【逃犯條例】獅子山現保衛香港直幡?fbclid=IwAR0uhtMfVd8UtH4GjV_YI8SN8ry5nCjsamRpcOSUmifVyg828OvpFio5JhQ%5D

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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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The “Freedom without Democracy” model is broken

[Relevant developments on the erosion of freedoms are regularly added. Scroll down. Last updated on June 20, 2017.]

My updated submission  to the British Conservative Party Human Rights Commission

[July 1, 2016 — written in April] Life Support For “One Country, Two Systems” Urgently Needed

[June 28, 2016] The British Conservative Party Human Rights Commission report 

My commentaries for the anniversary

[Oct. 17, 2015] What the current political storm spells for Hong Kong’s freedoms (HKFP)

[Oct. 14, 2015] 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)

[Oct. 8, 2015] 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)

NPC chairman Zhang Dejiang “inspects” HK

Zhang will attend the “One Belt, One Road” top-level forum and “inspect” the Hong Kong SAR. Previous reports carried by the official media normally used “visit” or “fact-finding” visit to describe those trips.… It is yet another worrying sign of the Beijing leadership magnifying the importance of the principle of “one country” while downgrading the special status of Hong Kong. It raises the question of whether the city will become “just another Chinese city” ultimately as pessimists and sceptics have warned…  (Word Play In Beijing’s Hong Kong Game Worrying)

Causeway Bay Books’ owners abducted and detained 

Bookseller Lam Wing-kee reveals explosive details of his mainland China detention, claims Lee Po told him he was ‘taken away from Hong Kong’ ; The saga of Hong Kong’s abducted booksellers takes a darker turn Hong Kong No Longer a Safe Place to Criticize China

The abduction of Lee Bo from HK formally marks the death of the “freedom without democracy” model. Joshua Wong said at a HKU forum on Jan. 12: From now on, we can no longer take for granted of even our personal safety.  See more below under “2e. HK book sellers abducted.”

‘Mind your words’: China slams Britain for ‘interfering’ in Hong Kong bookseller case

Arthur Li is turning HKU upside down

King Arthur turning HKU into political battlefieldSee more below under 2f.

Popular Film “Ten Years” presents the worst scenarios in 2015, disappeared from cinemas

Ten Years: A film that speaks to Hong Kong’s worst fearsDark vision of Hong Kong’s future proves surprise box office hit ; Imagining Hong Kong’s Future, Under China’s Tightening Grasp ;  A 2047 scenario for Hong Kong and ChinaGlobal Times says the film is absurdDystopian Hong Kong Movie Disappears From CinemasDystopian HK film Ten Years leads to Chinese media boycott of Hong Kong Film Awards. It won the Best Film award at the HK Film Festival:Ten Years wins ‘best film’ at 2016 HK Film Awards, as news of win is censored in China ; 圖解評審機制 一人一票選出《十年》 評審包括他們

Disappearing freedoms

Disappearing freedoms: 5 examples of Hong Kong’s fading liberties under one country, two systems: Threats to creative, academic and press freedoms dominated headlines in 2015, making Hongkongers question their level of autonomy under China’s much-touted ‘one country, two systems’ rule


1. Background

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China conducted a hearing on “The Future of Democracy in Hong Kong” on Nov. 20:

The CECC was established by the U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000 as China prepared to enter the World Trade Organization. Martin Lee was instrumental to US support of China’s accession to the WTO. See Lee’s statement and congressional report then. See also “Foreign forces at work in HK?


Testimony by Victoria Tin-bor Hui, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science; Faculty Fellow, Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, University of Notre Dame.

I am very proud of my Hong Kong origin. But today I should speak as an academic expert because I don’t dare claim to speak for protestors who have faced down police force and thug violence. I only wish to highlight the significance of what they have been doing.

The protestors’ demand is best captured by this yellow banner that can be seen everywhere in Hong Kong: “We want genuine universal suffrage (我要真普選).” This refers to the right to nominate candidates as well as the right to vote for the next Chief Executive in 2017.

The Umbrella Movement has witnessed hundreds of thousands of protestors occupying busy streets. At the same time, the media have shown images of counter-protestors roughing up non-violent protesters.

The division among Hong Kong people hinges on one question: Is it possible to preserve freedom without democracy? Hong Kong people, whether they are pro-occupy or anti-occupy, cherish freedom. They want a neutral civil service, an impartial police, an independent judiciary, and a free press. These core values are disappearing without democracy.

Hong Kong has seen three Chief Executives since 1997. They were chosen by a narrowly-based Election Committee beholden to Beijing and have undercut Hong Kong’s core values.[i]

The first Chief Executive, C. H. Tung, under Beijing’s prodding, introduced a draconian national security bill in 2003. He was forced to shelve the bill and then resign after half a million protesters took to the streets. These days, pro-establishment figures are talking about re-tabling the bill to stifle future dissent.

The second Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, introduced political appointments to top civil service positions. Without electoral accountability, this practice created cronyism and eroded the meritocratic civil service.

The third and current Chief Executive, CY Leung, has stepped up the appointments of his loyal supporters to key government positions and advisory committees. This has further corrupted the government. Under his watch, even the Independent Commission Against Corruption has become the target of a corruption investigation. Worse, CY Leung has been accused of receiving payouts of HK$50 million and then $37 million from the Australian firm UGL without publicly reporting them. In addition, the police have come under attack for making arbitrary arrests of protestors and selectively enforcing the law. Media critics of the government have been demoted or fired, with some journalists subjected to physical attacks by thugs.

The rapid erosion of freedom in the past two years has seriously undercut Hong Kong’s promised autonomy. Protestors want genuine universal suffrage because the previous system of “freedom without democracy” is broken.

Some Hong Kong people, many in my generation and older, still believe that Hong Kong can keep its freedom without democracy. But this view goes against world experience.[ii] It is not coincidental that Hong Kong has been the only case of “freedom without democracy” in the world — and this unique case is fast disappearing. All around the world, freedom and democracy are either present together or absent together, strong together or weak together. It is simply impossible to preserve a meritocratic civil service, an impartial police, an independent judiciary, and a free press without democratic accountability.

If protestors are loud and clear about their goal of genuine universal suffrage, it is not easy to get there.

The Umbrella Movement is nearing the end of the second month. As the government has refused to have a meaningful dialogue with protestors, supporters are looking for alternative ways to sustain the movement beyond occupying busy streets.

It may be less daunting, though by no means easy, to put pressure on business elites who are in the position to influence the government. All over the world, business elites are naturally pro-regime. But they may have second thoughts if protestors can impose costs on their continued collusion with the government.

Protestors are circulating a list of businesses for a targeted boycott.[iii] The government plans to turn the 1200-member Election Committee into a nominating committee for the Chief Executive in 2017. Leading members of this committee are Hong Kong’s wealthiest tycoons who dominate most businesses and make money off every ordinary HK person.

Hong Kong’s rich and famous may be convinced that keeping the economy open to the world depends on guarding Hong Kong’s freedom with democracy.[iv] Their long-term interests are better served in a Hong Kong that remains an international city rather than a Hong Kong that becomes just another Chinese city.

Ultimately, it is incumbent on the Hong Kong government to address protestors’ demand. As bailiffs are clearing occupy sites this week, the government may be tempted to think that the problem will simply go away. But the source of the problem is not the occupy movement; it is the government’s erosion of freedom.[v] Protestors will continue the struggle with other forms of civil disobedience. Now that the government has also trained a fearless generation, repression can only backfire and is not an option. The government has no alternative but to reopen the consultation process on electoral arrangements.

HK’s student leaders say that history has chosen them – powerless students have shouldered this burden with courage. History has also chosen powerful adults to make the right choices.

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Escalation by protestors can also backfire

See also

I have been talking about government action, police violence, and thug violence backfiring on HK people. Protestors who advocate escalation should know that their action can equally backfire on HK people, alienating supporters of the Umbrella Movement and solidifying support for the blue ribbons.

Frustrated with the lack of progress? See “targeted boycott.”

Throughout the world, unity is key to ultimate success. Fighting fellow protestors is self-defeating. Long Hair’s advice: maintain unity.

People who struggle for democracy have to practice democratic principles within the movement. If you can’t convince other protestors of the merit of your escalated action, then try harder.

Successful nonviolent protests often have marshals to maintain nonviolent discipline. They serve an important function.

See what Patten said about the storming of the Legislative Council building:

The future of Democracy in Hong Kong

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What’s next — Umbrella Movement into the second month

Patten’s advice: Do not even break glass doors or windows; remember how you have won the world with your nonviolent discipline. Think about how to pursue the struggle through other means. Watch his testimony.

Are occupy movements sustainable when we look around the world?  Physical space and ‘Occupy’ tactics: a new trend in civil resistance?

“it remains to be seen whether movements have been doing themselves a favor or a disservice by allowing themselves to be defined by the site of occupation or by the tactic itself, and not by political and social claims on behalf of  those whom they represent.” 


Occupy Central leaders are talking about turning themselves in on Dec. 5. 朱牧:自首另開戰線

Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Student Leaders were Refused Entry to Beijing

The appeal against the High Court injunction was rejected.

Albert Cheng: Take the long-term view 佔中不爭朝夕

See “targeted boycott and noncooperation — If we withdraw now, we would lose everything that we have been fighting for?.” See also “teenagers,” “leadership,” “increased support.”

It would be a mistake if the CY government thinks that the problem would go away once the occupy sites are cleared. The Umbrella Movement has already taken roots among protestors. They will continue the struggle by taking other forms of civil disobedience.

Images that suggest that the Umbrella Movement will not go away simply by clearing the sites:

Lavina says: “Clearance welcome; we will meet again in Mongkok”: 10410967_797510816978754_5689121843206830119_n Continue reading


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Quotes on civil disobedience — beware of “spurious quotes”

Martin Luther King argues in Letter from Birmingham Jail:

I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court because it is morally right, and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances because they are morally wrong.

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HK protestors and American slaves

This is not the first time that Chinese politicians refer to African Americans. Typically, the analogy is meant to suggest that the US has human rights abuses too, so why do Western/American observers criticize China’s human rights record? For the pathology of “comparing degeneracy/rottenness (比爛 ),” see Chinese commentaries 比爛 美國也有 | 梁文道 | 主場新聞  and 圣奴-隶 (the original post has since been harmonized, a saved copy is attached here 比爛 李承鹏 圣奴-隶 copy).

This time, it is meant to suggest that HK protestors should be patient. Laura Cha, a nonofficial member of Hong Kong’s Executive Council, and the first non-mainlander to serve China’s central government at a vice-ministerial level, says:

“American slaves were liberated in 1861, but did not get voting rights until 107 years later… So why can’t Hong Kong wait for a while?” (“Hong Kong Politician Likens Protesters to African-American Slaves“)

… democracy cannot be reached in just one step, and no one knows whether democracy will be achieved after 2017. So why not accept the current policy and wait longer? (“Don’t be a slave to reform, says finance figure“)

If HK protestors are as deprived as American slaves, why not support both the Umbrella Movement and the Civil Rights Movement? And Martin Luther King’s civil disobedience?

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Umbrella Movement has hurt the HK economy?

[updated on Nov. 24, 2015]

Contrary to dire predictions by anti-occupiers, the Hong Kong economy and the stock exchange have been doing well overall.

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Does HK matter to China’s economy?

See the stock market crash in summer 2015

Let The Economist explain:

Why Hong Kong remains vital to China’s economy 

AIIB needs HK ‘s role as an international financial center 亞投行終歸要靠香港

RMB Inclusion into SDR

among those 2.45 percent of international payments carried out in RMB, 70 percent are transactions done in Hong Kong… the internationalization of the RMB that makes the currency fulfil the IMF technical requirements is mostly about the RMB-ization of the Hong Kong economy so far. It involves the increase of RMB deposits in Hong Kong banks, sales of RMB-denominated “dim sum bonds” in Hong Kong, and the “through train” Hong Kong-Shanghai stock arrangement, etc.. The increasing use of RMB in Hong Kong has been carefully managed by Beijing under a quota regime. As such, RMB’s “free usability” in the world is in large part attributable to its “free usability” in Hong Kong, and China’s opening of capital account to the world is mostly its controlled opening to Hong Kong. The “free usability” of the RMB is way different from the “free usability” of the existing currencies in the SDR basket. RMB remains not fully convertible, and China’s capital account remains quite impermeable.

Why China needs HK to pull off its grand Silk Road plan

Here’s the main reason Chinese firms are flocking to Hong Kong 

Despite China’s stock market tumult this year, mainland banks and asset managers are crowding into Central in hopes of drumming up new business with foreign clients. The moves are further cementing Hong Kong’s status as the prime gateway into and out of China, property experts and bank analysts say.

Hong Kong An Indispensable Fund-Raising Platform For China

Panama papers show that HK is a money-laundering hot spot for Chinese money :  How Hong Kong makes it easy for wealthy Chinese to launder billions of dollarsHong Kong tops for secretive offshore financial services, according to leaked docsHong Kong, Singapore implicated in ‘Panama papers’ rich people scandal ;真・萬能插蘇】中法澳權貴轉移資產 均經香港 ;【巴拿馬文件】香港為第二大洗錢聖地 解放軍若鎮壓 各國政要好傷 ; All mention of Panama Papers banned from Chinese websites

Why ‘red capital’ is a blessing and curse for Hong Kong

As China’s slowdown hits wealth and relations sour, can the territory revive its fortunes? 

China-HK relations: three questions to set the record straight

Special Report: The mainland’s colonization of the Hong Kong economy (Reuters)

Direct investment access to China threatens Hong KongIt has long been the gateway to China, but new systems and products are undermining its status

And how dependent is HK on water and food from mainland China?

Is HK really dependent on mainland water and electricity?


The Xi-Ma meeting in Singapore did not mention “one country, two systems”, HK is of little value left「習馬會」不提「一國兩制」  香港利用價值所餘無幾

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Sacking James Tien (plus sidelining Tsang Yok-sing and Li Ka-shing)? You risk alienating pro-regime allies

[Updated on Mar. 1, 2016]

Original post:

If I could advise CY Leung, I would tell him to drop the proposed sacking of James Tien. This advice is based on my knowledge of contentious politics.

Upper classes and business elites in every autocracy tend to be pro-regime. You need them to maintain your ruling coalition. They would not normally support the opposition — unless you alienate them and drive them into the hands of the protestors. This is called the mechanism of regime defection in theories of contentious politics.

Mend fences with James Tien. Keep in mind that many HK business elites supported Henry Tang rather than you during the last CE “election” (by the 1,200-member election committee). Moreover, this is not the  first act to alienate HK’s rich and famous. The New China News Agency openly criticized 4 of the richest last week for not explicitly condemning the Umbrella Movement. You are  alienating the entire spectrum of business elites. If you continue down this path, they may well conclude that supporting genuine universal franchise can better serve their interest in the long-term.

My earlier “advice” turned out to be correct. I told a friend on Thu, Sep. 25:  “If I were to advise CY, I would tell him to leave the striking students alone until they go back to school, and to ignore the Occupy Central which was due to start on Oct. 1. If you don’t arrest protestors, they will just lose steam in a few days and then go home.” Unfortunately, CY didn’t hear me. By arresting students on Sep. 26-27, CY created a chain of reactions that culminated in the Umbrella Movement. See “background” and “backfire” and “more police and thug abuses.”

Unless CY really wants to further strengthen the Umbrella Movement, then sack James Tien, and do more to intimidate business elites!

Liberal leader James Tien Pei-chun to be axed from CPPCC after calling for CY Leung to resign:

CPPCC member Chan Wing-kee said the proposal to sack Tien was based on the advisory body’s charter, which empowered the committee to remove a delegate who violated the charter or a resolution of the CPPCC’s plenary session. A resolution that delegates must “resolutely support the chief executives of Hong Kong and Macau to govern in accordance with laws” was passed at the CPPCC’s plenary session in March.

Tien – whose resignation from the Executive Council days after the July 1 march in 2003 forced then chief executive Tung Chee-hwa to withdraw the controversial national security legislation – could not be reached for comment yesterday.

James Tian Faces CPPCC Expulsion After Calling CY Leung


On Oct. 25, the official New China News Agency published a commentary entitled “Hong Kong tycoons reluctant to take side amid Occupy turmoil” :

Sitting next to Tung at the meeting with President Xi was Li Ka- shing who made a statement on Oct. 15, calling on the Occupy protesters to go home and not to “let today’s passion become tomorrow’s regrets.” The Asia’s wealthiest man did not make it clear whether or not he agrees with the appeals of the protesters…

Other Hong Kong tycoons, such as Lee Shau-kee, nicknamed “Hong Kong’s Warrenn Buffett,” Kuok Hock Nien known for his sugar refineries in Asia, and Woo Kwong-ching whose businesses range from Hong Kong’s cable TV to the Star Ferry, have all remained mute… none of the tycoons at President Xi’s meeting has expressed support to the police’s handling of the demonstrations and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s government. (

This commentary generated such a storm that it was promptly taken down. Here is a saved copy: tycoons reluctant to take side amid Occupy turmoil – Xinhua |

Beijing warns Hong Kong tycoons to toe the line

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“Art of the Impossible” — “No, you can’t” v “Yes, we can”

[updated on Feb. 8, 2016]

I do not know if HK protestors are aware of Vaclav Harvel’s “Art of the Impossible.” For 10 years, I have been teaching my students that Contentious Politics is the art of the impossible. In any case, HK protestors have surely been practicing the principle. Once Beijing issued its verdict on the arrangements for election of the chief executive in 2017, commentators have been saying that this is “the reality” that HK people have to live with. Hong Kong students responded with a week-long class boycott on Sep. 22 with the slogan “Resist, Do Not Submit.” The boycott soon evolved into the Umbrella Movement on Sep. 28. See Timeline and Background.

In addition to the Lennon Wall borrowed from Prague, I finally see this video more directly adopting Harvel’s ideas: “DEMOCRACY is not just a dream 1989-2014”

On the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989:  <這一天並不遠了> – The day will come!

Lennon’s “I may be a dreamer, but I am not the only one” is a common sight: 10750086_10152928574222448_535840677210228836_o

Inspiration from Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” (

Joshua Wong’s dictum: 「人定勝天 —— 仿如刺青般畫在我們身上,成了青春的座右銘。我們就是不應向命運低頭,被冷酷無情的命運澆熄了青春的熱情。因為我們堅信,青春就該這樣用。」(黃之鋒-joshua/抱著你們不懂的青春-放下對政權的恐懼/734504073308770); Protest leader: ‘trying to turn impossible to possible’

The adults among us should not forget this Confucian dictum: 知其不可而為之」: 孔子不因為是否成功才決定做不做,而是因為應該做,就去做。儒家講「無所為而為」的學說:一個人不可能無為,因為每個人都有些他應該做的事。然而他做這些事都是「無所為」,因為做這些事的價值在於做的本身之內,而不是在於外在的結果之內。

GRIT: Why never giving up is a worthwhile goal

“A state of being in the moment is much more fruitful and rewarding than any mind continually striving for the results of tomorrow.” 不問成敗,只要曾努力過/Richard Scotford

[Mar. 30] The high school certificate exam in Chinese had this as the prompt: “A dream/dreams appear/s to be unrealistic but very meaningful” or “A dream/dreams appear/s to be very meaningful but in fact unrealistic.”


Banners and flyers: “Resist, do not submit”


[Dec 26, 2015] How do HK people deal with “learned helplessness”? 我灰到核爆?

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Genuine universal franchise is “Western” and not “gradual and orderly”?

There have been another tidal wave of commentaries and remarks suggesting that democracy defined as genuine universal suffrage by 2017 is “Western” and goes against the “gradual and orderly” principle.

This argument would have been less problematic had I not begun to hear it in the 1980s. See “before 1997.”

I just remembered my 10-year-old commentaries. Really, 10 years old! Why are we debating the same issues 10 years, 20 years later? Why is it that time is somehow frozen in HK?

“SAR must take long-delayed steps to democracy,” Weekend Standard, Volume 1, No. 6, March 20-21, 2004, p. A55

“Confucianism and Patriotism: Speak from the heart,” South China Morning Post, Feb 14, 2004, p. A13

Heaven’s Mandate lies with the people, South China Morning Post, July 11, 2003, p. A15.

For more in-depth analyses, see “Citizenship Rights in Historical China” in The Edinburgh Companion to the History of Democracy, edited by Benjamin Isakhan and Stephen Stockwell, Edinburgh University Press, 2012, pp. 60-70;and “The China Dream: Revival of What Historical Greatness?” in Arthur Shuhfan Ding and Chih-shian Liou, eds., China Dreams: China’s New Leadership and Future Impacts, Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd, 2015, pp. 3-32.


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Which side is undermining the rule of law: protestors or the government? (Michael Davis)

[Mar. 3, 2015]

Student leader seeks judicial review on electoral reform

Yvonne Leung, a standing committee member of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, has lodged an application in the High Court for a judicial review on the second round of consultation on constitutional reform.

As student leader seeks judicial review, chief secretary insists restarting process is ‘unrealistic’

In a judicial review application filed yesterday, student leader Yvonne Leung Lai-kwok argued the local government had “misdirected” by relying heavily on the NPCSC decision. “Such matters [in the NPCSC decision] have no legal effect and are not legally binding to the institutions of HKSAR,” she said in the writ. “This is because these matters fall outside the scope of the provisions of the Basic Law and the 2004 NPCSC Interpretation.” She said that under the interpretation all the NPCSC could do at this stage was to say if there was a need to amend the electoral method, and no more. The High Court should therefore quash the second round of public consultation and order the government to restart it, she said.


Occupy protests breaking law, but not undermining Hong Kong’s rule of law

Do protesters using civil disobedience to promote democracy and better secure Hong Kong’s core values pose the risks to the rule of law that officials and pro-government lawyers claim? It is important here to distinguish between breaking the law and undermining the rule of law. The non-violent protesters have clearly broken the law by not complying with the Public Order Ordinance and, further, by not clearing those areas covered by court orders. Both are purposeful law-breaking in furtherance of a non-violent civil disobedience campaign. We should bear in mind that civil disobedience by definition involves breaking the law in support of a higher ideal that is the aim of the civil disobedience campaign… By putting the Standing Committee above the law and redefining basic human rights guarantees in an unrecognisable manner, the State Council and the Standing Committee have put Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rule of law in jeopardy. The failure of the local government to guard Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and its seemingly complicit role in the Standing Committee’s decision implicates it as well…

Disobedient civilians pale in comparison to blatant violation of guarantees in Basic Law  Denial of genuine vote harms rule of law more: Legal expert


November 21, 2014 Davis speaks to RTHK’s The Pulse.


Dec. 2, 2014 Hong Kong government must face up to responsibilities on human rights

As court orders, followed by more aggressive police tactics, seek to clear the streets in Mong Kok and Admiralty, the non-violent civil disobedience campaign in Hong Kong has reached a climax. For two months, the protesters have impressed the world with their peaceful sit-ins. Allegations that they are undermining the rule of law have met with scepticism. In this moment of difficulty, we should not lose sight of the fact that primary responsibility for maintaining the rule of law rests with the government. The administration cannot simply hide behind civil court orders and police powers in exercising its responsibility. How it tackles the many problems with the underlying reform process will be crucial…..

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Has the Government abandoned the pretense of universal suffrage? (Michael Davis)

In recent days the fig leaf has largely come off. Originally the Government argued that the NPC SC decision opened the door to universal suffrage and the democrats will suffer the harsh judgment of history for not seizing that opportunity. Now, after the protesters courageously exposed their ruse to the global audience, they have stopped pretending they are fulfilling the commitment to universal suffrage. Now the story is, as the CY Leung as stated, that Hong Kong cannot allow genuine democracy or we will be subject to the whim of the people who will demand a welfare state. Even Carrie Lam in her response to the students effectively acknowledged that the model now on the table is not universal suffrage, arguing this may be achieved in a subsequent election. After all this misrepresentation and bullying how can anyone trust the commitment to universal suffrage in the Basic Law.

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You can’t kill an idea — the giant banner “I want genuine universal suffrage” on the Lion Rock and the Chalk Girl

[Updated on May 16, 2016]

In contentious politics, it is often argued that while you can kill leaders and followers and individuals, you can’t kill an idea. In Hong Kong, it seems that you can’t remove an idea: the demand for genuine universal suffrage. By removing a giant banner  that says “I want genuine universal suffrage,” the idea is likely to grow even deeper among pro-occupy supporters. Though no police force was used in this case, the removal is seen as a form of repression and seems to be backfiring. See posts on backfire. Immediately, memes and banners inspired by the stunt began to emerge at occupy sites and online. Protestors say “We put up 10 banners for everyone you take down.”

Since then, the giant banner has been put up and taken down multiple times.

[Sep 27, 2015]【雨傘一周年】Banner再現獅子山 消防員登山拆 and  [勿忘初衷]

[Feb. 23, 2015] The banner reappeared on the forth day of the Year of the Goat【巨幅再現】獅子山再現「我要真普選」.

Ricky Wong’s suggestion: umbrella supporters could hang the banner outside the windows of their flats to create scenes of yellow banners all over HK: 我建議一個讓大家表達意見而且可行的做法,就是在家的窗外插上旗幟。

[May 12] 《激戰獅子山》; 學舌鳥作品《激戰獅子山》團隊背後的故事(RTHK31:19/5/2015)

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[May 16, 2016] Police camp atop Lion Rock before Zhang Dejiang visit to Hong KongPost learns officers gathering at iconic mountain to ensure security for state leader. Nevertheless, Hong Kong activists welcome Chinese state leader by hanging pro-democracy banner near Lion Rock


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