Tag Archives: Hong Kong

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.

Rowdies’ attacks on umbrella leaders Continue reading


Filed under Umbrella Movement

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’ http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1674460/report-us-say-hong-kong-police-30-key-occupy-figures-targeted-arrest

Dozens of Hong Kong Protest Leaders Facing Arrest, Standard Says http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-06/dozens-of-hong-kong-protest-leaders-facing-arrest-standard-says.html

黃之鋒、梁麗幗遭O記預約拘捕 被捕者擬集體投案 http://hk.apple.nextmedia.com/news/art/20150107/18994356

警列佔領1500人調查名單 倘落實檢控拘捕 或翌日即上庭 http://news.mingpao.com/pns/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」 http://news.memehk.com/posts/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。


Continue reading


Filed under Umbrella Movement

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 http://news1.mingpao.com/20141208/gaa3.htm)

Also [學生前線 勇武抗爭] 19122014 學生前線核心成員訪問 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-1P5Rjl01s

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. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/16/revolution_u)

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 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/opinion/after-the-protests.html?_r=0)

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 http://www.inmediahk.net/node/1030246)




從甘地與馬丁路德金看佔領運動的失敗 http://www.inmediahk.net/node/1029574

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:  https://undergradhkusu.wordpress.com/category/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  http://www.chinarightsia.org/?p=1305

The Trifecta of Civil Resistance: Unity, Planning, Discipline 公民抵抗三要素:团结、规划、纪律 http://www.chinarightsia.org/?p=1144

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): https://drive.google.com/…/0BxnzgzmO-h-dZmE2Z2tCVF84ekU/view

Agents of Change and Nonviolent Action 公民抵抗三要素:团结、规划、纪律  http://www.chinarightsia.org/?p=1211

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. (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/16/revolution_u): “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 https://victoriatbhui.wordpress.com/?s=rowdies.

Maria Stephan, “How the HK protestors can win” http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/10/06/how-the-hong-kong-protesters-can-win/

198 nonviolent methods: http://www.aforcemorepowerful.org/resources/nonviolent/methods.php

Erica Chenoweth at TEDxBoulder, “The success of nonviolent civil resistance”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJSehRlU34w

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. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/11/05/peaceful-protest-is-much-more-effective-than-violence-in-toppling-dictators/?wpisrc=nl_cuzheads

Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, “Drop Your Weapons: When and Why Civil Resistance Works” http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141540/erica-chenoweth-and-maria-j-stephan/drop-your-weapons

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 http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/23/world/gene-sharp-revolutionary/index.html?on.cnn=1

CANVAS and Srdja Popovic et al, “A Guide to Effective Nonviolent Struggle” http://www.canvasopedia.org/library

Srdja Popovic, “How to topple a dictator,” TED, 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3Cd-oEvEog; “How to Topple a Dictator (Peacefully),” NYT, 2015 http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/13/a-military-manual-for-nonviolent-war/?_r=3

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 http://www.aforcemorepowerful.org, esp. Ch. 13 “The Mythology of Violence”


Maciej Bartkowski, “Understanding civil resistance. Questions I am asked and wrestle with,” 3/22/2014 http://maciejbartkowski.com/2014/03/22/understanding-civil-resistance-questions-i-am-asked-and-wrestle-with/

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. http://www.progressivevoices.org/intervention-in-libya-is-it-really-the-only-option-328-by-stephen-zunes-t-r-u-t-h-o-u-t-op-ed

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” (http://www.canvasopedia.org/library)

pillars 1 pillars 2

Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict,” International Security, 2008 http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/isec.2008.33.1.7 (a more academic piece)


Rowdies’ mistaken conclusion:



The call to “use force to counter violence” http://www.passiontimes.hk/article/12-14-2014/20048


And 佔旺四式 http://www.passiontimes.hk/article/12-26-2014/20138


Anti-govt group mounts online campaign against police http://www.ejinsight.com/20150102-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 http://www.aforcemorepowerful.org

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: http://kroc.nd.edu/news-events/events/yoder-dialogues-nonviolence-religion-and-peacehttp://kroc.nd.edu/news-events/events/2014/09/25/1666http://kroc.nd.edu/news-events/events/2013/02/28/1438http://kroc.nd.edu/news-events/events/2012/11/27/1436http://nanovic.nd.edu/events/2012/11/27/14191-lecture-how-to-topple-a-dictator/


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 http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/23/world/gene-sharp-revolutionary/index.html?on.cnn=1)

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. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/16/revolution_u)

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: http://www.aforcemorepowerful.org/resources/nonviolent/methods.php

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. (http://www.aforcemorepowerful.org/films/bdd/story/hif/srdja-popovic.php)

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. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/16/revolution_u)

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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 http://www.ejinsight.com/20150616-civil-groups-urge-police-reforms-after-alleged-occupy-incidents/

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 https://victoriatbhui.wordpress.com/?s=backfire)

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) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5kEyAySyqw



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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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: http://www.cecc.gov/events/hearings/the-future-of-democracy-in-hong-kong

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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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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“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” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aM95Bwwpc7s

On the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989:  <這一天並不遠了> – The day will come! https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=640307516081506&set=vb.287013041410957&type=2&theater10393945_640142246098033_757762896836828244_n

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.” (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152528827156374&set=a.10150907473366374.408285.514056373&type=1&theater)

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。」(https://www.facebook.com/notes/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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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 http://www.scmp.com/print/news/hong-kong/article/1653389/hong-kong-government-must-face-responsibilities-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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Increased popular support for the Umbrella Movement–and beware of more backfire

This latest poll confirms what everyone has been saying, that the use of police violence has backfired, driving up support for the Occupy and Umbrella Movement when many people originally had misgivings about disruptive action. Meanwhile, the SCMP reports that the government may use harsher measures to put a stop to the occupy movement. Let’s hope that the government finally learns the lesson that police and thug violence is more likely to strengthen protestors than to shut them up. The CY government has no alternative to talking to student representatives.

Governments confronting popular challenges have the options of making concessions or heightening repression. As authoritarian rulers do not want to make concessions, they often resort to more repression. Unfortunately, in case after case, repression only drives moderates and bystanders into the arms of the opposition. In Hong Kong where the people fiercely defend their long-cherished freedom and where the movement is live streamed for the world to see, repression has only backfired and will continue to backfire.

SCMP Public support for Occupy movement growing, survey shows : Public support for the Occupy movement has grown since the campaign began, and it continues to divide residents, a Chinese University survey has found….Pollsters said they believed that the police force’s controversial handling of protesters – including using tear gas and batons – was a catalyst.

SCMP Government source hints at tougher line on Occupy protests if deadlock persists 

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A Eurasian Movement — Why is the Tiananmen analogy wrong? And interacting dynamics with Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement

[updated on J. 20, 2016]

Why is it that international observers cannot resist the temptation to liken the Umbrella Movement to Tiananmen? Even commentaries that suggest that Tiananmen is the wrong analogy still use the idea in the headlines. If one looks hard enough, it is not difficult to find parallels. Why is the analogy so mistaken? Most of all, Hong Kong has freedom even though there is no full democracy. Han Dongfang puts it well:

“While Hong Kong’s Occupy Central With Love and Peace movement bears a superficial resemblance to the 1989 demonstrations, Mr. Han explains that they have less in common than many think: ‘The big difference is, at Tiananmen, we were asking for reform and democracy, which didn’t exist in China. We wanted something we didn’t have. Here in Hong Kong, they already have free speech and rule of law,’ Mr. Han says. ‘They can go out on the streets and protest. They are fighting so Beijing doesn’t take that away.’”  Han in A Protest Veteran in Hong Kong — Lessons from Tiananmen for the students of the Occupy Central movement.

Another Han interview: Building Hong Kong’s Future: Interview with Han Dongfang (建設香港的未來:韓東方訪談)

According to Tung Chee-hwa, the first post-1997 Chief Executive: “The [People’s Liberation Army] will not be sent to Hong Kong streets,” he said. “I have full confidence in the Hong Kong police in handling the protests.” Asked whether that was the central government’s position, he said: “Yes”.

According to Jimmy Lai of Apple Daily, “A violent crackdown will ruin China as it ruins Hong Kong.” Whether this sentiment will turn out to be right or wrong, it is quite widely shared at the moment.

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HK Chief Executive says democracy “would produce policies skewed toward the poor”

Those on the Left have been sympathetic to CY Leung and critical of the protestors. Would CY’s honest words on how the system favors the rich trigger a rethink?

Hong Kong Leader Reaffirms Tough Stance on Elections and Economic Discontent, NYT :

HONG KONG — The Beijing-appointed leader of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, said Monday evening that allowing his successors to be chosen in an open election based on who won the greatest number of votes was unacceptable in part because it would produce policies skewed toward the poor.

Not sure if CY Leung meant that all the European welfare states are doomed to go down the drain. He should consult at least champions of neo-classical Economics: The Economist and Douglas North. E.g., North, Wallis, and Weingast (2009, 266) say:

The logic of a median voter model suggests that widening the suffrage in a democracy to include more low-income voters will likely result in populism and other forms of zero- or negative-sum redistributive politics emphasized by Meltzer and Richard (1981). If the median voter makes less than the average income, it is in his or her interest to transfer income from rich to poor people. Such an analysis, however, ignores the incentives for redistribution that exist if the government is able to deliver redistribution impersonally. As Lindert (2004) shows, the social costs of redistribution create incentives for the poor and rich to redistribute in ways that have the least negative effects on society as a whole. They create strong incentives to redistribute opportunity to poor individuals through the provision of education, public health, and public services rather than strictly cash. When public goods enhance human capital, the ability to provide impersonal policies allows open access orders to respond to citizens in ways that complement markets rather than undermine them. In this way, open access orders sustain democracy as a positive-sum game. Of course, if the government cannot credibly deliver impersonal public services, then the poor have every incentive to use their votes to transfer cash now and are susceptible to populist appeals from factional leaders. This is the dark side of democracy, a side often visible in natural states.

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Foreign/external forces at work in Hong Kong

[Updated on July 1, 2017]

[May 6, 2016] Declassified documents shows that the UK and US understood in 1984 that the lack of specificity in the s/election of the Chief Executive formed the biggest loophole of the Sino-British Joint Declaration 九七密檔揭特首選舉漏洞 英美唔理2047靠自己

[Oct. 23, 2015] Joshua Wong: What’s the fuss about foreign visits 黃之鋒:外國聯繫 何罪之有

[Oct. 21, 2015] Proof of foreign involvement in Occupy protests absent, one year after CY promise to media

[July 8] Poisoning The Well Of U.S.-China RelationsIn the past few years, virtually no area of Chinese policy has remained untouched by the influence of “hostile foreign forces.”

[July 2] If the stock market crash is due to hostile foreign forces, then why wouldn’t the umbrella movement? In China, hostile foreign forces blamed for bursting stock market bubble

Hostile foreign forces often get blamed for trying to undermine China, and were said by the government to be behind pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong last year.

Hong Kong’s Occupy protest ‘was an attempt at colour revolution’: PLA general

The Occupy protests were “an orchestrated Hong Kong version of a colour revolution” and Beijing’s response should serve as a warning to advocates for Taiwan’s independence, according to a senior PLA general. General Sun Jianguo, a deputy chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, made the comments …“Hostile forces have always attempted to make Hong Kong the bridgehead for subverting and infiltrating mainland China,” Sun said. “The illegal Occupy Central activities in 2014 came as minority radical groups in Hong Kong, under the instigation and support of external forces … orchestrated a Hong Kong version of a colour revolution.”

[Sep 22, 2015] Hong Kong’s Democracy Movement and Beijing’s Fear of Foreign Influence


Original post with updates:

CY Leung and pro-establishment figures suggest that Hong Kong protestors are under the instigation of foreign forces. Maybe they should talk to protestors  to find out for themselves. At least watch the live streams (see separate post “A social media revolution“.)

It is important to distinguish between international monitoring and media attention that are integral to HK’s success  and foreign orchestration of protest activities. There is plenty of the former and no evidence of the latter. Instead of blaming foreign forces, why doesn’t the HK government try to win back the hearts and minds of the Occupy Generation?

A Notre Dame student from HK asks this question: What is foreign and what is not foreign in HK? Good question. See In Hong Kong, Just Who Is an Expat, Anyway? HK is not a fortress. Let us not forget that HK is an international city that is fully integrated with the rest of the world. It would be disastrous for HK to follow China’s anti-foreignism (see In New China, ‘Hostile’ West Is Still Derided and China Targets ‘Hostile Foreign Forces’) What do we make of HK’s brightest and richest who often have dual citizenship? They are both local and foreign. Among the population, 300,000 Canadian citizens live in Hong Kong, of whom nearly 90 per cent are dual citizens. The Economist’s last count in 2008 shows that 30,000 people held both Australian and Hong Kong passports. The US counts 60,000 citizens in HK–as the US does not recognize dual citizenship, it is not clear how many of those American citizens are also HK citizens. The Basic Law is explicit that foreigners can serve as public servants save in a few specified posts. Foreigners can also serve in the Legislative Council “provided that the proportion of such members does not exceed 20 per cent of the total membership of the Council.” (Basic Law, Art. 101 and 67)


HK has always invited and welcomed “foreign forces”. The HK government, the business sector, and civil society have always looked to the world for the best talents, best ideas and best practices, and have always tried to sell the best of HK to the world. It is hardly surprising that the Umbrella Movement embodies the fusion of the West and the East, just like many other aspects that HK is so proud of. See a Eurasian Movement.

While HK protestors have taken inspirations from around the world, their nonviolent discipline, self-organization, artistic talent and strong determination have won them admiration from everywhere. Subsequent movements are certain to draw on the HK experience. As the Umbrella Movement becomes HK’s latest export, is HK now “interfering” in other countries?

[Nov. 8] Juli Minoves of Liberal International said during a visit to Occupy Admiralty:

“With this umbrella movement, they want to be able to decide who will govern them in the future. This is great hope. It’s great hope for Hong Kong. We don’t want to interfere at all in the internal affairs of China, not at all. On the contrary, I have to say, it’s the students that interfere with us, because they have actually brought about the imagination of the world. We’re just here by chance. We admire what they are doing. We are not interfering at all. We just want to show our support.” (50外國領事議員撐場 讚學生勇敢香港有希望)

[Nov. 13] A high school student Lavina appeals for international attention: Lavina : I need your help [Jan. 6, 2015] Despite the accusation, the government’s public sentiments report makes no mention of foreign instigation. [Jan. 14, 2015]  CY Leung repeats claim of ‘external forces’ influencing Occupy – but provides no evidence

In an event on Monday that was open only to two pro-government newspapers – Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Pao – Leung reportedly said the leaked emails showed “the trace of external forces” in the Occupy movement… But Leung has so far failed to explain how the donations were actually related to the foreign interference. A spokesman for Leung’s office said no further information would be provided. (CY Leung was referring to leaked emails in Wen Wei Po’s report 「佔中」勾結外部勢力證據大曝光)

What ‘foreign forces’ are truly threatening HK

In fact, the only external force interfering in our local affairs is either from mainland China or from certain anti-party or anti-Xi Jinping factions embedded in Hong Kong…  As a matter of fact, it is the anti-party and anti-Xi forces who should be held responsible for the political chaos and social disharmony in Hong Kong in recent years, especially after Leung gained power with the support of certain party factions and the indigenous Communists. They are the root of the social unrest that has haunted Hong Kong for so long.

[Jan. 29] Hong Kong added to Beijing’s list of ‘core interests’ amid post-Occupy unease:

Hong Kong has been named publicly as one of China’s “core interests and key concerns” in a veiled warning from Beijing to Washington over territorial issues. The rare reference surfaced in a military-to-military meeting in Beijing on Tuesday between PLA deputy chief of general staff Sun Jianguo and US undersecretary of defence for intelligence Michael Vickers, the PLA Daily reported…  His remarks follow repeated claims from mainland media and Hong Kong officials that “foreign forces” had meddled in the city’s politics.

Pundits believe that the talk about foreign forces is to push for the introduction of national security bill in HK.

Mainland think tank on HK affairs forms group ‘to safeguard national security:  The new group, formed under the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, came into being on the same day the city was met with a high-level suggestion to copy and paste the mainland’s tough security laws into the Basic Law.

“Beijing is doing this because they want to [turn] the Umbrella Movement into [a] national security concern.” (The Coming Storm of Hong Kong Nationalism)


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Democracy and chaos? — erosion of freedom without democracy

The Chinese argument that democracy leads to chaos resurfaces in the midst of the Umbrella Movement. When Jack Sndyer published the Chinese edition of his “Democratization and War,” I mentioned that Chinese would love his argument, using it to support the long-standing Chinese argument that democratization would cause chaos. Here is what Jack said: You don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Note that Jack’s argument is that the rule of law and the free press are essential for successful democratization. As it happens, HK is a case of freedom without democracy — what is at stake is that the rule of law and the free press are being eroded without democracy. What protestors are defending are precisely such “core values of HK.”

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong economy and the stock exchange continue to do well overall, thus debunking the argument that the Occupy movement has hurt HK’s economy. https://victoriatbhui.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/has-the-umbrella-movement-hurt-the-hk-economy/

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More police and thug abuses — have they learned the lesson of backfire?

The shocking video of the police beating and kicking a protestor is surely to backfire yet again.

It is surprising that the police still have not learned the lesson that violent repression would only backfire on Hong Kong people. It was police violence that created the Umbrella Movement in the first place. And it was thug violence that sustained the movement just when it was fizzling out.

Many protestors are on the street now only AFTER the riot police used tear gas and pepper spray. If CY had allowed the student boycotts and Occupy Central to go on without incident, the protests would have died out on its own after a few days. Instead, the use of tear gas on Sep. 28 caused an outrage and mobilized people to pour into the streets, thus giving birth to the Umbrella Movement.

And just when the protests in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mongkok were fading away by Oct. 2 or so, thugs (who were suspected to have the blessings of the police) beat up and sexually harassed protestors in Mongkok. Soon after, more people poured into the street to condemn thug violence.

Just yesterday, it was looking like the police would be able to remove road blocks piecemeal and thus end the occupy movement any time soon. And then the police beat up protestors, reporters and monitors in the middle of the night.

HK protestors who are baptized by criminal arrests, pepper spray and tear gas would only increase their determination.

HK testifies to the well-known theory that it is state violence that drives support for the opposition.

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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. http://podcast.rthk.hk/podcast/item_epi.php?pid=280

Another commentary using the same analogy 小思:浴火鳳凰 http://hktext.blogspot.com/2014/10/phoenix.html

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: http://www.oldhkphoto.com/?p=3944

鄧鍵一:誰動員群眾? ——電視畫面在雨傘運動的動員作用 http://www.pentoy.hk/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. http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1655412/mainland-chinese-youth-remain-cool-hong-kongs-democracy

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 http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/12/25/ferguson-staten-island-protest-2014/20435471/)

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。」http://www.vjmedia.com.hk/articles/2014/11/08/90287)

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.comhttps://www.facebook.com/socrec?ref=br_tfhttp://new.livestream.com/socreclive/events/3480280

Also live, though not live stream: http://www.scmp.com/topics/occupy-central

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.”  http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1628305/role-social-media-occupy-protests-ground-and-around-world

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. http://www.scmp.com/article/1649310/hongkongers-who-find-news-online-more-likely-support-occupy-protests-survey

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





http://hkgolden.com (requires registration)

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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. (http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1654286/original-hong-kong-occupy-plan-veered-script)

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 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/30/hong-kong-pro-democracy-protest-leaders-occupy

Wong, Tai on list of leading global thinkers http://www.ejinsight.com/20141118-wong-tai-on-list-of-leading-global-thinkers/

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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 http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/12/hong-kongs-protests-are-overfor-now/383703/)

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. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-sheehan/hong-kong-summer-of-love_b_6265190.html?fb_action_ids=10152513442516623&fb_action_types=og.likes

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.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/world/asia/hong-kong-protests.html?_r=0)

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 http://programme.rthk.hk/rthk/tv/programme.php?name=tv/thepulse&d=2014-10-31&p=2862&e=282173&m=episode On the Occupy Generation: What Does Hong Kong’s “Occupy Generation” Want?  A documentary of the voices of Hong Kong’s teenagers: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152456570926939&fref=nf

Through Occupy, Hong Kong youth claim their citizen’s rights http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1671698/through-occupy-hong-kong-youth-claim-their-citizens-rights

The Umbrella Movement marks a coming of age for Hong Kong’s “princess” generation http://qz.com/285345/the-umbrella-movement-marks-a-coming-of-age-for-hong-kongs-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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYCvpXWRsM0&feature=youtu.be

More young voters on electoral rolls after Occupy

網片新人王 http://hk.apple.nextmedia.com/supplement/special/art/20150104/18989240 Who is Joshua Wong–what Scholarism is for? http://www.scmp.com/video/hong-kong/1601854/who-joshua-wong Joshua Wong, Taking Back Hong Kong’s Future http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/30/opinion/joshua-wong-taking-back-hong-kongs-future.html?_r=1 Joshua Wong for Time’s person of the year http://time.com/3562179/time-person-of-the-year-poll/vote/42/ 學民思潮召集人黃之鋒 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swtcTvQKkSE “Lessons in Dissent” about Scholarism made earlier: http://lessonsindissentmovie.com/en/ 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. http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1699804/dab-struggling-attract-higher-quality-membership-chairman-admits

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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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,   http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/八八直選 and http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/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… (http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1654286/original-hong-kong-occupy-plan-veered-script) Continue reading


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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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