Backfire — Baptism of Fire

ByoRL1rCIAAg7q2 Hong Kong police fires tear gas at pro-democracy protesters

Scholars have long argued that repression could backfire rather than silence dissent. That is exactly what happened when the govt sent out the riot police and used pepper spray and tear gas on Sep. 28. In HK, people use the concept “baptism of fire.”

Baptism Of Fire 00:21:56 2014-10-09: The students of Hong Kong have hit the headlines all over the world. Many of them have become new soldiers of democracy, with boycotting classes and staging protests as their first experience of action politics.

Another commentary using the same analogy 小思:浴火鳳凰

The police did not use this many (87) rounds of tear gas even when leftists staged riots in conjunction with the Cultural Revolution across the border in 1967:

鄧鍵一:誰動員群眾? ——電視畫面在雨傘運動的動員作用社會/t444/2014/11/28/鄧鍵一:誰動員群眾?-電視畫面在雨傘運動的/



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

[updated on Feb. 8, 2016]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See 我係大中華膠?

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The Umbrella Movement failed (or was already failing then)? Why do some people say that?

[Updated on Sep 29, 2015]

See also divided, unity and leadership. Pundits argue that the Umbrella Movement failed because it did not compel CY Leung to step down or to re-open consultations on universal suffrage. To begin, success is difficult everywhere:

Jeremi Suri, a University of Texas historian who has studied global revolutions… As Suri puts it, “we’ve relearned the lesson that it’s a lot easier to get people out in the street than it is to make a political difference.” (2014 protests: From Ferguson to Hong Kong, impact unclear

Lin Fei-fan, a student leader of Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement, has a similar view:

“很多朋友可能認為雨傘運動失敗了,或者訴求沒有達成。其實我覺得也沒有那麼悲觀。因為事實上香港人在這次運動中,給北京政府已經很大的震撼。過去這幾年我參與很多社會運動,覺得很挫折的時候,我都想一件事情。就是馬英九到底在想甚麼,北京政府到底在想甚麼。其實他們在想你們哪一天自己消失,你們哪一天自己放棄。我覺得香港民眾其實要記住這一點,你們沒有放棄的權利.” (台灣太陽花學運一周年 at about 20 min.)

[Mar. 21] Of course, CY Leung and his supporters are celebrating their victory:  特首晤建制派 指佔中失敗;  梁振英昨在禮賓府宴請反佔中核心成員

[Jan. 2015] Paradoxically, what Chris Patten calls the “rowdies” are also calling the movement a failure. It seems that the purpose is to put all the blame on the leaders of Occupy Central, HK Federation of Students and Scholarism. First, they don’t seem to understand that the way to keep the momentum of any movement is to claim victory, however, small. Second, the rowdies seem to be encouraging this split, which had been set aside at the height of the movement, so that they can assume leadership in the post-occupy phase. See split.

A key 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.

[April 3, 2015] Hong Kong’s pan-democrats: Plagued by a chain of failures, yet unrecognised for their mini-victories 

Cardinal Zen says Occupy Movement was a success





Original post:

Student leader Alex Chow says: There really is nothing to lose because HK already lost everything with the NPCSC decision. (「其實我地仲有乜可以輸??人大落下831這項決定時,全香港已經輸清光。」

It is also argued that Occupy Central already failed too – that it failed to mobilize as many protestors as students, and that it failed to capitalize on the outrage at police violence by calling to end Occupy prematurely on September 28. But such a view misses the point. We should look beyond a single episode and examine its role in the long stream of contention. Occupy Central and its mutation into the Umbrella Movement have fundamentally rewritten Hong Kong politics. Never before would activists be willing to stage disruptive actions and thus risk criminal charges, pepper spray, tear gas, and thug violence. As activists so proudly put it, they have been baptized in the flames of fire. Through their collective courage, they have fundamentally transformed Hong Kong as well. McAdam, Tilly and Tarrow etc argue that contentious politics is like a chess game. This means that there is no particular move that will guarantee success or failure — it all depends on what the other side does and how events turn out. In contentious politics, success and failure are hard to define, for many reasons. For one, we should examine processes as well as outcomes. In terms of process, the umbrella movement is unprecedentedly successful. It has completely transformed HK and HK people. Today’s teenagers will certainly continue to fight for the next 70 years. There is also the question of dating the beginning and end points. When do you date the end of a movement and thus call it a failure? HK’s democracy has been 30 years in the making. The umbrella movement marks only one episode (or chapter) in a long stream of HK’s democracy movement. At what point can one say that the movement has failed? Take the anti-apartheid movement, it looked like it had failed at every episode (especially when the regime repeatedly imposed states of emergency in 1985 and after) until it finally succeeded. The walk to freedom, as Mandela said, is long.

John Garnaut provides one poignant explanation for why some international observers are condemning the umbrella movement to failure:

The meta-narrative of ever-growing power is … the incentive for economic beneficiaries to avoid seeing, or to rationalise, or to even actively support China’s underground program to degrade, dismantle and decapitate the institutions of civil society and government enjoyed by the citizens of Hong Kong and Taiwan. Before the umbrella protests of Hong Kong it was easier to believe that it was only a matter of time before the peripheries were fully absorbed into the empire and made safe for Chinese Communist Party rule. And that’s the way the way that Hong Kong’s great multinational banks, the world’s top four accounting firms, and even the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong still see the odds, judging by their recent statements. Geoff Raby, a former ambassador who represents Australian corporations in Beijing and sits on the board of Andrew Forrest’s iron ore company, Fortescue, was empathetic with the protesters he surveyed in central Hong Kong. Indeed, their earnest faces were haunting reminders of those he’d seen a quarter of a century earlier in Tiananmen. And, to him, their hopes are as futile now as they were back then. To contemplate otherwise would not just be wrong, as he put it this week in the AFR, but “ideological”. So much so that Canberra should resign itself and allow history to take its inevitable course if the People’s Liberation Army is once again sent in. “It will be a time for cool reason, rather than ideological enthusiasm,”according to Raby.

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The Umbrella Movement is about economic grievances rather than democracy?

[updated on Oct. 5, 2015]

Many observers suggest that protestors are really grumpy about inequality, job prospects, housing prices etc. rather than democracy. They are mistaken to take material and political grievances as discrete issues. What matters is the mechanism of attribution. When people blame their blight on the political system, the two sets of grievances are inextricably interlinked. Continue reading

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A Social Media Movement — and self-censorship by most mainstream HK media

[updated on April 4, 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

Hong Kong’s Virtual Districts: How online groups are helping build communities in the real world


This movement is live streamed for the world to see. http://umbrella.appledaily.com

Also live, though not live stream:

Activists have been mobilizing on social media: when to gather for mass rallies, when an occupy site needs more people to hold it, when the police seem to be preparing for new action, when supplies are running low, etc. Social media have significantly facilitated self-organization.

The role of social media in Occupy protests, on the ground and around the world: “At the height of the riot police operation, 12 tweets about Hong Kong were being posted every second as images of protesters engulfed in tear gas spread globally. Days before the street protests began, there were just 19 Hong Kong-related messages being posted per minute.”

Hongkongers who find news online more likely to support Occupy protests: Hong Kong residents who primarily find their news online and regularly comment on the internet are far more likely to support the city’s ongoing pro-democracy protests, a new survey has found.

Mobilization on social media (there are far too many to list them all): (requires registration)

10339564_992616524098612_2385724599168094189_n Continue reading


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Leadership — Students hijacked Occupy Central leaders?

Archbishop Zen scolded the HK Federation of Students for hijacking the Occupy Central leadership. At the same time, radicals who had never supported OC applauded students for “pushing out” the “old guys.”

It is wrong to say who hijacked whom in HK’s 3-decades-old democracy movement. It has grown and sustained over time because every crisis nurtured a new leadership. Every time, traditional leaders graciously stepped aside and stood behind the new leaders.

The Sino-British negotiations gave birth to the first summit meeting of all pro-democracy forces (高山大會)in 1986. Tiananmen further coalesced them into the United Democrats of HK. The anti-Art 23 campaign of 2003 gave rise to lawyers and the Civic Party. The patriotic education policy led to the formation of Scholarism in 2012. The universal franchise campaign pushed OC to the forefront in 2013. At every juncture, older generations stepped aside and let new leaders lead.

Students organized a week-long class boycott in the week of Sep. 22. Occupy Central announced that they were going to start occupying on Oct. 1. The arrests of student leaders on Friday, Sep. 26 drew so many people to Admiralty that OC had to announce its early beginning.

Hijacking? What we have seen is a joint leadership of Scholarism (high school students), the Federation of Students (college students) and Occupy Central (2 professors and 1 pastor) in this chapter of HK’s democracy movement.

Different episodes of Hong Kong’s democracy movement have always been tightly interlinked, with every leadership pushing the movement a bit further and then passing on the torch to a new leadership in a new episode.The fluidity of leadership has created a cross-class, inter-generational leadership structure over the years. This is why HK’s democracy movement has sustained and expanded.

Original Hong Kong Occupy plan veered off script:

today, the Occupy Central protests that Tai launched with conviction on September 28 have deviated markedly from his script – in ways that he and his two co-founders had not imagined in their wildest dreams… But the shift in leadership left the campaign less organised than planned. In its early days, a rift emerged between Occupy organisers and the student leaders and concerns were arising that the protests could spin out of control. (

An intergenerational leadership of Scholarism, Federation of Students and Occupy Central


Who guides Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’ pro-democracy movement? Hong Kong’s protesters come from a huge swath of society and have no single leader, but there is a group of figureheads

Wong, Tai on list of leading global thinkers

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Umbrella Movement in art

[Updated on May 23, 2016]

[May 23, 2016] Lights out for controversial 2047 ‘Countdown Machine’ art installation on Hong Kong’s ICC building ; ICC building protest art suspended as Arts Council slams artists’ ‘disrespect’

Film “Ten Years” Dark vision of Hong Kong’s future proves surprise box office hit ; Global Times says it is absurd ; Ten Years wins ‘best film’ at 2016 HK Film Awards, as news of win is censored in China

其後:雨傘運動中的物件 Hereafter: Objects from the Umbrella Movement (26/9/2015 – 16/10/2015)

[Sep 28, 2015] Protest street art on display; [Sep 2] Occupy art exhibition struggles to find home in time for anniversary

[Sep 28] HK Journalists Association’s photojournalism exhibition disappears from urban centers 消失於鬧市的攝影展

[Sep 24] Italian artist donates Occupy paintings to university

[March 28, 2016] Humour out of chaos: How satire helps channel Hong Kong people’s frustrations


During the umbrella movement:

“Just as the protests have upended the notion that Hong Kong people don’t care about politics, the blast of public art is changing the image of a city better known for making money than for art and culture.” (Rescuing Protest Artwork From Hong Kong’s Streets

RTHK’s The Works: and

Channel 4 News The political art behind the umbrella revolution in Hong Kong

CNN, Art bursts from Hong Kong protests

A View of the Artistic Protests of the Umbrella Movement

Cartoonist of Mr. and Ms. HK People : profile

Words of the Umbrella Movement

Word art 街上的民字

Wordplay a new weapon in Hong Kong democracy battle

佔領區的靈性 落地的信仰

Giant projector: and

A cartoon timeline: Harry’s View on Occupy Central

Kickstarter Funds `HK Trilogy’ Film

Umbrella dance: Chapter 9.28; review

Urban design: Hong Kong Government Office Architect Reflects on ‘Occupy’ Movement

Rocco Yim… is the lead architect of Rocco Design Architects Ltd, the Hong Kong firm that originally designed the government complex, including the area that stretches from Tamar Park to a elevated walkway that links the Legislative Council with a nearby office building…

Mr. Yim said that the protests made him rethink his views on the space surrounding the government complex. “As I walked through the occupied zones towards Central, which felt so much less congested and cleaner, I thought: do we really need so many roads? Can we do something to persuade people to use their cars less, and pedestrianize this area — if not permanently, at least occasionally? If we could experiment with fewer roads – not just for protesters, but as a civic space – it could have a very positive effect.”

What this protest art means for the protest and the art scene: 一場學運兩種進路─香港藝術X社運的範式轉移

Knowing that the occupy movement will end some day, there is a rush to preserve this art:

Rescuing Protest Artwork From Hong Kong’s Streets

Will Hong Kong’s protest art be saved?

Victoria and Albert Museum

Hong Kong Artists concern protest art Community

Occupy art in Germany :  When Protest Becomes Art: The Contradictory Transformations of the Occupy Movement at Documenta 13 and Berlin Biennale 7

[Mar. 6]  Umbrellas part of Maritime Museum exhibition of HK history


Umbrella art exhibition at universities 聯校雨傘運動藝術展 以藝術呼籲大眾「勿忘初衷」

[June 25] A HK photographer won the French PX3 Gold award for umbrella pictures 記錄佔領一刻 港人奪法國攝影賽PX3金獎

Can the Umbrella generation build careers in art? 文化創作能做職業嗎?

HK has worked very hard to promote artistic creativity, the Umbrella Movement achieved it overnight: Hong Kong Moves to Refashion Itself as a Global Hub of Creativity

And preserving old HK in sketches: 事吉茶記 Sketcher-Kee

USIP Global Campus’ online course on nonviolence:  Civil Resistance and the Dynamics of Nonviolent Movements5.4.1 Arts and Resistance Overview

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Umbrella Movement in songs–and artists in politics

[updated on July 1, 2017]

TV Most put on a widely acclaimed and sold-out performance of parody songs on Jan. 11, 2016: “TVMost 1st Guy Ten Big Ging Cook Gum Cook Awards Distribution (􀀗􀀋􀀇􀀍􀀆􀀁第一屆十大勁曲金曲分獎典禮)” — official videos;  How TVMost show made its audience feel like Hongkongers ; Hongkongers need more of sense of humour, especially in politicsHumour out of chaos: How satire helps channel Hong Kong people’s frustrations ; 笑聲滿載對抗的溫馨

撐起雨傘 Raise the Umbrellas

[Jan. 1, 2015] The Umbrella theme song “Raise the umbrella” named song of 2014 with a symbolic no. of votes (2887 — 87 rounds of tear gas on 9/28) and huge margins over competing songs:;撐起雨傘-奪-叱咤樂壇我最喜愛的歌曲-獎/

Umbrella theme song “Raise your umbrella” released on Oct. 3 ; with translationEnglish version released on Oct. 26. A Cappella version. Taiwanese version in Minnan.

Occupy Central’s theme song

問誰未發聲/who hasn’t spoken up

The longest-standing protest song: Beyond’s 海闊天空 Boundless Oceans and Vast Skies:

English version

The original Beyond song with transliteration and translation

Metro Vocal Group sings 『海闊天空」, much appreciated by HK Cantonese

Linguist Victor Mair on this song which he translates as “Boundless Oceans Vast Skies

More umbrella songs and playlists

A different umbrella song released on Nov. 14, 2014: 運動歌曲《雨遮》:從學生創作到現場動員

The umbrella playlist: 傘聚 United Umbrella  [Music video]– a fusion of Lennon’s Imagine and local songs — fit for the Lennon Wall in Admiralty


The shopping revolution song: 日日去鳩嗚 (voice only)

Under the lion rock 獅子山下 MV 葉德嫻、何韻詩、黃耀明 20141028 Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution

Umbrella dance by college students: 大專Mass Dance學生撐黃傘跳舞 全場大合唱

An MTV made before the final clearing <金鐘應該很高興> -The wall against autocracy! 

No Turning Back

Camping at Occupy sites

The Umbrella Movement Playlist

Hong Kong’s Pop Culture of Protest

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Why are Hong Kong’s young people protesting? Fighting for their future

[Updated on April 30, 2016]

See grievances.

[June 7, 2016] INTERVIEW: Hong Kong’s Joshua Wong Takes the Fight to Beijing

[April 29, 2016] One in five young people pessimistic about HK future: survey[Sep 25, 2015]  Youth more pessimistic about Hong Kong’s future

[Jan 23, 2016] An examination of the idea that HK youth are “trash youth” 我係廢青?

[Mar 27, 2016] Out with the old: The political awakening of a new generation of Hongkongers

[Oct. 21, 2015]  Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong on Xi’s UK visit, human rights and democracy

[Oct. 13] Joshua Wong seeks judicial review of election age limit: Sparks ‘Rule by the old’ debate 

[Sep 26] The teenager who defied China: Joshua Wong was one of the faces of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution and now he has drawn a roadmap for democracy

[Sep 29] Elsie Tu criticizes young people for being irrational 佔領一周年】梁愛詩指許多青年不講理 不放心香港交予不理性謀發展的人

[Dec. 2, 2015] China Daily: Self-righteousness closes the eyes and minds of our youth

[Dec. 7, 2015] Hong Kong companies adopt Shenzhen interview tactic — It may be to check if a job applicant is ona mainland blacklist for political reasons

[July 15] Students with top scores had participated in the occpy movement 多名狀元曾經佔領

[June 29] Scholarism leader Joshua Wong, girlfriend attacked after movie 

[June 15] Pupil’s poignant palindromic poem praised: A poem written by a pupil in Form 3 went viral in Hong Kong last week after the teacher, Eric Windarcher, uploaded it onto the internet. Hold your umbrella:

Our city is dying

Never will [anybody] say

We can fight against the ruthless government.

The truth is

Under the pepper spray and tear bomb

We can never succeed

It is wrong to believe that

We can build our wings and fly high.

Having the right to freely nominate and elect the head of our government by 2017

Is a joke.

We know that

Our goals can only be fulfilled in fairytales,

‘The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall’

Che [Guevara] said.

Can we? Never

Put down your yellow umbrella.

Let the communist Chinese government take away all the core values we treasured.

Give up protesting for political freedom.

We know it is a lie.

People may think Hong Kong is dying.

That might be true,

Unless we turn things around

[Dec 24, 2015] “I am achieving balance in my own wayFor me, balancing is not for survival. It’s for a keeping a dream alive.”

Hong Kong student protest leader Joshua Wong: ‘We will win’ ; CNN: On China: Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement

潮未遠去,風再起時 傘運後的新世代

A documentary on the anti-parallel trade youth 反水貨客少年



CY Leung urges young Hongkongers to ‘fight back’ against radicals

But three in 10 young people unhappy with HK situation and 47 percent of the respondents between 20 and 24 favor upholding justice through civil disobedience.

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

Meanwhile, the generation gap is growing wider:  Why older voters have become critical in HK political battles:

Unhappiness over the 79-day street occupation last year by democracy activists is a key factor weighing on the minds of the people aged 50 and above, a recent opinion poll suggests… According to the survey, around 10 percent of even those who claimed to have been pro-democracy camp supporters and aged over 50 said they would consider voting for pro-establishment candidates in the upcoming district election… around half the interviewees held a very negative impression over the Occupy campaign, while 30 percent remained neutral…The Occupy movement, it is now acknowledged, has widened the rifts in Hong Kong society, with the youth and the elderly mostly standing on opposite sides…The number of registered voters above the age of 61 has surged to 981,489, making up for one-third of the total registered voter base. In comparison, registered voters aged 18 to 30 saw their number reach 580,000.

It does not look good that young people are so alienated that they did not register to vote:

Newly registered voters for the November 2015 District Council elections are overwhelmingly retirees (two thirds of newly registered voters are over 56) and many young people between the ages of 18 and 30 remain unregistered. This is a very serious challenge, more so than the lack of broader support for the occupation itself, and indicates the lingering sway of disenfranchisement even among Hong Kong’s younger population. (One year after Occupy, political alienation of the young still the major challenge for democrats)

[July 7] Some young protestors are supported by their parents 我的社運爸媽

Young generations are increasingly worse off.

Salaries of Hong Kong’s university graduates dropped 20 per cent in last 20 years, study findsUniversity grads forced to accept lower-level jobs, poorer pay  ; 港高級職位不足 80後畢業生月入較70後少兩成


Original post

However this episode of the Umbrella Movement turns out, effective governance in the long-term requires some accommodation with today’s young people who will easily live for another 70 years. They are restless and fearless — as they have been “baptized” by pepper spray, tear gas, police manhandling, and thug violence.

In a poll released [in Dec. 2014], only 8.9 percent of Hong Kong residents identified as Chinese, the lowest figure ever recorded. And the trendlines aren’t good for Beijing: The territory’s younger generations, epitomized by the bespectacled Wong, supported the protesters the most. This could turn into a long-term problem for the Chinese government, said Trey Menefee, a lecturer at the Hong Kong Institute of Education who has observed the protests firsthand.  (Hong Kong’s Protests Are Over—for Now

According to another HKU survey, the Hong Kong Federation of Students passes the recognition benchmark for the first time to enter the “top 10” list and also ranks first while Scholarism goes up three positions to rank 5th. Lian Yi Zheng on Hong Kong’s Occupy Generation:

By the time the Occupy Central movement is eventually dissolved — by force or of its own resolution — and its leaders make good on their promise to submit themselves to arrest, an entire generation of pro-democracy citizens will have arisen: young and dynamic, dauntless and relentless. It is a force that the Beijing plutocrats and their emissaries in Hong Kong will have trouble getting used to. Political business will no longer be as usual.

Hong Kong’s Summer of Love and the Umbrella Generation:

From its origins as a protest movement with a narrow set of political demands, the Umbrella Movement has morphed into a defining generational moment, one whose impact will be felt even stronger in 2027 than in 2017.

For Hong Kong Protesters, a Spark to Keep Alive:

“This is a lifelong movement,” she said. “We cannot give up. Because we belong to this place. If we want this place to be well, we cannot just leave it.” (

Students are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with political issues: Political issues top concern among students now: survey (see also 明報民調:近半受訪青年最不滿政治)

In a survey conducted by Ming Pao Daily, 47 percent of student respondents said what they are most unhappy about at the moment is the way the government is dealing with political issues. Disputes on the political system, failure to ensure “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy” and the shortcomings of local officials were among the factors cited by the students.

調查發現,47%受訪者最不滿政府處理政治議題的表現,包括「政制爭議」(24%)、「香港未能做到『港人治港、高度自治』」(16%)、「問責官員能力不足」(7%);有46%受訪者認為政府應優先解決政治議題。 民生方面,最多受訪者不滿政府處理樓價高企表現(15%),其次是「中港矛盾」(10%)、「貧富懸殊」(9%)等;有20%受訪者要求政府優先處理房屋問題。 被問及是否滿意特首表現時,79%受訪者不滿特首梁振英的表現,當中有43%表示「非常不滿意」,整體的不滿比率較針對特區政府高,滿意或非常滿意梁表現者只有3%,其餘18%人對此表示中立。

The source of Hong Kong youth’s frustration: Siegfried Sin says young people are, above all, angry at the uncompromising attitudes of the older generation, and the fact they have had no voice in society – until now oped_1213_1

Young people are on a path of no return and will keep up the struggle 那是我們都回不去的從前

Umbrella Movement Through the Eyes of Students On the Occupy Generation: What Does Hong Kong’s “Occupy Generation” Want?  A documentary of the voices of Hong Kong’s teenagers:

Through Occupy, Hong Kong youth claim their citizen’s rights

The Umbrella Movement marks a coming of age for Hong Kong’s “princess” generation

Listen to the young ladies: 傘不走的女聲 Do you hear the women sing

SocREC 2015015 林同學心聲

More young voters on electoral rolls after Occupy

網片新人王 Who is Joshua Wong–what Scholarism is for? Joshua Wong, Taking Back Hong Kong’s Future Joshua Wong for Time’s person of the year 學民思潮召集人黃之鋒 “Lessons in Dissent” about Scholarism made earlier: Student unions want to withdraw from the Federation of Students after occupy


Beijing’s Liaison Office in HK is trying to make the HK Federation of Students more Beijing-friendly by influencing member student unions. A City U student disclosed that the Liaison Office was trying to bribe and threaten students running for elections to the student union: CityU student exposes threats and deals made and offered by leftists in order to infiltrate HKFS城大學生爆左派威逼利誘 滲透學聯

Chinese University’s next student union cabinet has students with ties to left-wing groups 中大學生會換屆閣員疑有左翼背景

a former Chinese communist youth league member is running for HKU’s student union:  港大學生會內閣候選人叶璐珊承認共青團身份 / Mainland student tells of smears in HKU election —- [Jan. 17, 2015] Does CY Leung’s 2015 Policy Address seek to erase the next generation of youth with 1) the open criticism of HKU’s student publication “Undergrad”, 2) a new Chinese history curriculum, and 3) diversion of education resources to exchange programs with mainland schools?【施政報告系列】有實無名國民教育,消滅新一代青少年

[Jan. 22, 2015] Why HK youth hate Leung even more after his policy speech: there are some problems with his tone when he said in his speech that he “needs to guide young people and university students through the process of understanding the constitutional relations between Hong Kong and the Mainland”.

The city’s biggest pro-establishment party conceded it had met “difficulties” in recruiting young people, as well as members from the commercial and professional sectors, meeting only half its target.

China No 3 leader says more attention needed for Hong Kong young

Alibaba sets up HK$1b fund to help young Hong Kong entrepreneurs

Yet, the government appointed someone born with a silver spoon to head the youth affairs committee  劉鳴煒獲委青年事務委員會主席


See also relevant section on the erosion of academic freedom


“What is so scary about these young people”

10624880_716355638446249_5583562932665922981_n Continue reading


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Umbrella movement or revolution — What’s in a name?

[Updated on Sep 29, 2015]

Umbrella Movement or Umbrella Revolution? The “Umbrella Revolution” is a name coined by international journalists. Hong Kong protestors quickly adopted it. They love the symbolism of “umbrella.”  While many people also follow the term “revolution,” the leaders prefer “movement.” They are worried that Beijing is allergic to color revolutions. Student leaders emphasize that “we are just fighting for genuine universal franchise, we are not seeking to overthrow the political order.” Radicals, in contrast, insist on calling this a revolution. I don’t understand the fuss about this. Both sides misunderstand the term revolution. Color revolutions on record are hardly revolutionary. They have taken place in semi-democracies. Thus, in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, what was at stake was electoral disputes rather than regime change.

Hong Kong’s students want you to stop calling their protest a ‘revolution’

Beijing calls this a foreign-instigated color revolution:【國家安全教育展 介紹佔中事件為一場顏色革命】

Benny Tai on why this is a movement:

Hong Kong University student magazine Undergrad talks of revolution — Publication criticised by CY runs article urging city to revolt or face ‘destruction’.

Some protestors believe that there is no need to avoid the term “revolution.”

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What Chris Patten calls “rowdies” insist on calling this movement the Umbrella Revolution and attack student leaders for calling this the Umbrella Movement. I actually don’t understand the fuss about this controversy — or why they want to call this a revolution while China is nervous about this movement being a color revolution. Color revolutions are hardly revolutionary because they have uniformly taken place in semi-democracies. In Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, what was at stake was electoral disputes. As for the so-called “velvet revolution” in Eastern Europe in 1989, the more appropriate term is “refolution” combining both top-down reforms and bottom-up revolutions. See Goodwin’s No Other Way Out.

Mao’s famous characterization:

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery . . . . A revolution is an act of insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”





This is probably the best characterization: “Almost a revolution


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Background and Timeline–and Analyses

[updated on Sep 28, 2015]

The Umbrella Movement did not begin when the CNN anchor descended on Hong Kong. The Umbrella Movement was mutated from the Occupy Central movement. Adopting McAdam, Tilly and Tarrow’s terms of processes and episodes, both the Occupy Central and Umbrella Movement are the latest episodes in Hong Kong’s 3-decades-long process of fighting for democracy. Every episode has been marked by a new crisis and a new leadership. HK’s democracy movement was born at the “Ko Shan/high mountain summit” (高山大會) of 1986. In response to the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 which stipulated the drafting of the Basic Law, the then college students and young professionals dreamed of building a democratic Hong Kong. Of course, first-generation activists didn’t just fall from the sky; they had spent years working on social livelihood issues for years. Different groups joined forces to form the Joint Committee on the Promotion of Democratic Government and demanded direct elections to the Legislative Council as soon as 1988. (In Chinese: 民意彙集的政治:論兩次處理香港民意的缺失,八八直選 and民主政制促進聯委會) Probably under pressure from Beijing, the British HK government manipulated a public consultation《代議政制今後的發展白皮書》 and delayed direct elections until 1991, and for only a small portion of the seats. After Tiananmen in 1989, when Hong Kong people held the slogan “Today’s Tiananmen, Tomorrow’s Hong Kong,” the first generation of democrats became more convinced that democracy was the only hope for Hong Kong. The United Democrats was formed in 1990 to contest for 18 directly elected seats (out of 60) of the legislative council in 1991. While the handover in 1997 marked a watershed in Hong Kong’s history, the democracy movement appeared stagnant. The next big push for the democracy movement came when Beijing wanted Hong Kong to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law by introducing the national security bill in 2013. The Article 23 Concerned Group formed of lawyers mobilized half a million to take to the street on July 1. The government shelved the bill afterwards. Another episode came when the government wanted to introduce patriotic education in 2012. This time, high school students founded Scholarism to contest the policy, joining forces with the long-standing Federation of Students formed of college students. After 100,000 people turned out to support students and parents, the government shelved the policy.

Occupy Central was formed in early 2013. While Hong Kong people have long mobilized tens and hundreds of thousands to show up at rallies for an afternoon or an evening, Occupy Central called for a disruptive action for the first time in Hong Kong’s democracy movement. Organizers threatened to bring businesses in the central business district to a halt unless the government made arrangements for genuine universal franchise in the election of the Chief Executive in 2017. Beijing responded by a hardline decision in late August 2014. Thus the Federation of Students mobilized a school boycott in the week of September 22 and Scholarism on the day of September 26. And Occupy Central announced the kick-off of Occupy on Oct. 1. On the night of September 26, Scholarism sought to recover the “Civic Square” which had been the site of the anti-patriotic education campaign in 2012 but was barricaded during the summer of 2014. The rough handling of student activists and the mass arrests enraged the population. When protestors poured into areas surrounding the Central Government Offices on September 27, Occupy Central was forced to begin early, then and there, at the Central Government Offices in Admiralty rather than Central. And Occupy Central, Federation of Students, and Scholarism joined hands in leading the revised Occupy movement. As ever more protestors turned out in the weekend, the government sent out the riot police and used pepper spray and tear gas on September 28. When rumors spread that the police would escalate to rubber bullets, the joint leadership called for a complete retreat. By then, outraged protestors not only refused to retreat, but also spread out to Causeway Bay and Mongkok. Photos of hundreds of thousands of protestors spanning Admiralty soon became the iconic images of the Umbrella Movement. It was only then that the CCN anchor descended on the scene.

The next question is: when will this movement end? Surely not when international journalists leave:-) So far [as of Nov. 8], every prediction that it was ending or fizzling out or failing has been proven wrong. According to most protestors, the moment when they withdraw is also the moment when the real struggle begins, at a new level. According to Jimmy Lai: “I’ve been working in the media for so long, so I’m supposed to understand the people. But I tell you, I don’t. I don’t understand them. Their potential power and fighting spirit is something I’ve just discovered. It’s amazing.”… “I was quite shocked by the young people. I told myself that I really have to reassess and understand the Hong Kong people. It shows that the intensity of this movement is limitless. Its depth is bottomless. You never expect people to have such persistence and be so fearless.” (Apple Daily Owner Full of Wonder at Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy ‘Kids’ ) Original Hong Kong Occupy plan veered off script: today, the Occupy Central protests that Tai launched with conviction on September 28 have deviated markedly from his script – in ways that he and his two co-founders had not imagined in their wildest dreams… ( Continue reading


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Background: constitutional and legal issues

Useful sources:

Michael Davis on Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement and Beijing’s Failure to Honor the Basic Law

HKU Law’s Cora Chan discusses recent developments in Hong Kong, the impetus for the current protests in Hong Kong, the constitutional relationship between Hong Kong and China, and the prospect for democratic reform in the region.

The British Institute of International and Comparative Law on the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the Basic Law, and Beijing’s decision on the electoral arrangements for the Chief Executive in 2017

Human Rights in HK on the 30th Anniversary of the Sino-British Joint Declaration

The law faculty of the University of Hong Kong have a blog on legal issues.

The International Law Case for Democracy in Hong Kong

Beijing’s broken promise on Hong Kong democracy shattered our trust

Hong Kong constitutional affairs minister lambasted for saying that China alone pledged to keep city’s way of life intact

Does China Think the Sino-British Joint Declaration Is Void? Recent statements suggest China pays little heed to the document governing Hong Kong’s handover.

Here’s why ‘pocket it first’ is unconstitutional

Government changes Basic Law facts.

House of Commons report: The UK’s relations with Hong Kong: 30 years after the Joint Declaration

See also Michael Davis on HK and general timeline and background.

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Interviews and Daily observations (Oct. 5 – Sep. 30)

Arise America: Hong Kong Protest Leaders Call for Retreat

Ian Masters/NPR


Victoria Hui, a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame in the U.S., suggested the protests partly stem from young people’s anger at decreasing social mobility and their dimming prospects at finding decent jobs after graduating from college, which is also becoming more unaffordable for people outside the upper and middle classes.

“People are attributing their economic grievances to the political system,” Hui said. “Demand for universal suffrage is connected to these material grievances.”


KUHN: Victoria Hui is a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame. She says that in recent years, every chapter in Hong Kong’s struggle for democracy has been led by a different group. This time she says it’s the students’ time to lead.

VICTORIA HUI: The leadership role is also very fluid. It’s taken over by different groups of people over time. In fact, this explains why Hong Kong’s democracy movement has sustained over time.


Victoria Hui, associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, says that a hit on the industries dependent on tourism doesn’t have to be detrimental for the protest movement.

“Many people are already incensed by the effect of mass tourism from the mainland,” she says. “Rents have shot up and many mom-and-pop stores are torn down for the benefit of malls catering to tourists.”


Students should consider alternative ways to pressure the government without inconveniencing regular Hong Kong people, said Victoria Hui, associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame and author of “War and State Formation in Ancient China and Early Modern Europe.” Protesters could organize targeted boycotts or convince people to withhold income tax payments, she said…

“The worry really is that the enthusiasm of core supporters will also wear out,” she said. “If CY Leung was smart, he would just wait out the protesters, he could avoid the choice of making concessions or cracking down.”

[After this blog] Occupy Radio: Occupy Central Report from Hong Kong


Oct. 6

To withdraw or not to withdraw, that is the question now. The Umbrella Movement has to find a way to generate decisions that can earn the support of ordinary protestors. A week after the riot police unprecedentedly used pepper spray and tear gas, Hong Kong woke up to relative calm on Oct. 6. Despite ultimatum-like warnings last weekend that protestors must completely retreat from various protest sites by Monday morning, there was no attempt to clear the sites over night. Tensions eased as protestors partially opened roadblocks and agreed to open talks with government representatives. Over the weekend, protestors debated at protest sites and online if and under what conditions they may make a strategic withdrawal from the occupied sites. Shortly after some protestors announced that they were withdrawing from the Chief Executive’s office and Mongkok, other protestors rushed to re-occupy the sites. Likewise, when the joint leadership of the Federation of Students, Scholarism and Occupy Central asked protestors to retreat from the Mongkok site at the height of thug violence last Friday, people only flooded to protect Mongkok. International observers suggest that the “leaderless” nature of the movement is the source of confusion and disunity. This does not have to be the case. Of course, this so-called “leaderless” movement has been led by student leaders and the Occupy Central elders. At the same time, the movement has been notably “orderly” because protestors are highly civic-minded and self-organized. The challenge is to more tightly link up leaders and protestors. Protestors who are willing to brave both police and thug violence deserve to have a say in the decision-making process. Scholars have long argued that pro-democracy movements should be highly democratic in their own internal structure. The joint leadership can become stronger by more systematically incorporating the views of fiercely independent-minded protestors. If the Umbrella Movement prefects democratic self-governance in its decision-making process, then they can have stronger leverage in negotiating with the government. See Leadership.


Oct. 3

Just when the Umbrella Movement is expected to fizzle out on its own after the coming weekend, new tensions arose as counter-protestors started to beat up protestors. After throwing 87 canisters of tear gas at protestors last Sunday, the Chief Executive CY Leung seemed to learn the hard lesson that police violence would only backfire. The use of pepper spray and tear gas drove hundreds of thousands of people to occupy not just the areas surrounding the Central Government Offices in Admiralty, but also the business district in Central, and shopping districts in Causeway Bay, Mongkok, and Tsimshatsui. The natural alternative to repression is concession. Yet, the proposed negotiation with students yesterday was dead on arrival. The Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, who is charged with negotiating with students, has only reiterated that there could be no change to the central government’s decision on the arrangements for the election of the CE in 2017. If neither repression nor concession seems viable, the Hong Kong government probably thought that it had a third alternative: tacitly supporting counterprotestors to beat up protestors and clear the occupied sites. Pictures and videos of the police standing on the sideline or even siding with counterprotestors have gone viral in the last few hours. This is not the first time that thug violence is used against pro-democracy activists and even journalists, from Szeto Wah and Martin Lee to Kevin Lau. The government should know that every wave of thug violence in the last decade has only outraged the population. This current wave against the Umbrella Movement will be more so. Instead of letting the protest sites empty out on their own, thug violence is bringing them back to defend their “democracy zones.” The government has no better option than talking to its citizens about re-opening the consultation process for the CE election in 2017.


Oct. 2

Tensions in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution were diffused at the eleventh hour last night, but could rekindle any time unless protestors find a third alternative between escalating and retreating. Tensions were building up last evening as Hong Kong protestors surrounded the Chief Executive’s office  and threatened to occupy other government office buildings if CY Leung would not step down by midnight. In response, the police were seen to stockpile tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and even bullets for AR-15 at the Chief Executive’s office. Observers could finally take a deep breath when CY Leung announced that he would appoint the Chief Secretary Carrie Lam to open negotiations with students. However, few people are optimistic that the negotiations would amount to anything. Not only that Mr. Leung refused to resign as demanded by protestors, Beijing has also stepped up its hardline position that it will not change the arrangements to vet candidates for the CE election in 2017 — which caused the protests in the first place. Protestors will thus continue to feel that they have to escalate to more disruptive actions or the movement would lose momentum and die out. But protestors have a third alternative. Scholars have argued that methods of dispersal — such as consumer boycotts and nonpayment of taxes — could be as effective as methods of concentration — such as the massive demonstrations that are on display now. If targeted boycotts hurt the interest of business tycoons whose support CY relies on and if nonpayment of taxes make bureaucrats unable to administer Hong Kong, then protestors would have a higher chance of compelling concessions and avoiding direct clashes with the police. And the movement will be sustainable in the long-term even when people have to go back to school or to work.


Oct. 1

International and local commentaries alike are wondering for how long the “umbrella revolution” could last. The CY Leung government learned the painful lesson last Sunday that repression would only backfire. They have pulled back the riot police and protests have surged since then. The government seems to belatedly follow the strategy of ignoring the protests, betting that protestors will eventually go home and the revolution will just fade away without any more clashes for the world to see. Hong Kong people are known for pragmatism as much as their call for democracy. When the rice bowl is at stake, HK people may well slowly retreat from the protest sites. What this strategy misses is that a people power movement could work equally well when it is dispersed as when it is concentrated. Hong Kong people could sustain the movement while still going to work and to school by adopting methods of dispersal. They could, for example, compile a list of business interests closely tied to CY’s inner circle and launch a targeted boycott. Protestors cannot force CY to step down, but may have a chance at forcing his inner circle to force him to step down.


Sep. 30

International media have reported on how hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong protesters have maintained nonviolent discipline and order. International observers see images common to nonviolent movements around the world: strength in numbers, determined faces in front of riot police, slogans, songs, and more. Beneath such broad strokes of similarities, Hong Kong is unlike other cases given the constitutional structure of “one country, two systems” agreed to between Beijing and London. While Hong Kong has only semi-democracy, people are free to protest. While the police sometimes make arbitrary arrests, the independent judiciary inherited from the colonial era routinely releases activists. This constitutional structure presents a very open political space unseen in the rest of China and yet makes it difficult for activists to mobilize the largely contented population. Against this backdrop, the unprecedented use of riot police and the firing of tear gas seemed to have galvanized popular support for the protesters fighting for genuine democracy and increased sympathy for nonviolent actions.

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