China tries to brush off HK election results

Source: SCMP (11/25/19)
China tries to brush off pro-democrat victory in Hong Kong election and blames ‘foreign forces’ for interfering
State news agency Xinhua refuses even to report pro-establishment side’s heavy losses and reports only that the elections have taken place. Official outlets say government supporters were harassed on the campaign trail and accuse Western countries of fuelling unrest
By William Zheng and Echo Xie

Pro-democracy supporters celebrate the defeat of Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, one of the most high-profile victims of Sunday’s vote. Photo: AFP

Pro-democracy supporters celebrate the defeat of Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, one of the most high-profile victims of Sunday’s vote. Photo: AFP

Mainland China on Monday tried to brush aside the landslide defeat for the pro-establishment camp in Hong Kong’s district council elections with news of the results being heavily censored.

State media preferred to focus on calls for law and order to be preserved and the accusation that Western countries had been instigating unrest.

Many official media outlets only ran brief reports on the vote, with state news agency Xinhua declining to report the results, in which the pro-democracy camp took control of 17 out of 18 councils.

“According to the announcement by the Electoral Affairs Commission, all 452 district councillors of 18 districts have been elected,” it said. Continue reading

HK democracy backers win big

Source: NYT (11/24/19)
Hong Kong Democracy Backers Win Big as Voters Flock to Polls
A surge in voting, especially by young people, allowed democracy advocates to win many more seats on local councils.
By Keith BradsherAustin Ramzy and 

Democracy supporters celebrating in Hong Kong on Sunday night outside a polling station. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Pro-democracy candidates buoyed by months of street protests in Hong Kong were headed to a stunning victory in local elections on Sunday, as record numbers voted in a vivid expression of the city’s aspirations and its anger with the Chinese government.

It was a pointed rebuke for Beijing and its allies in Hong Kong, and the turnout — nearly seven in 10 eligible voters — suggested that the public continues to back the democracy movement, even as the protests have grown increasingly violent. The surge was driven especially by young voters, a major force behind the demonstrations of the past six months.

With three million voters casting ballots, pro-democracy parties captured at least 216 of 452 elected seats, up from 124, and perhaps many more, according to early official results. Continue reading

External forces and black hands

Source: China Media Project (11/19/19)
EXTERNAL FORCES AND BLACK HANDS
by 

External Forces and Black Hands

Featured image above by Studio Incendo under CC license.

The front page of the Chinese Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper featured an official commentary yet again today that sent a stern warning over violent standoffs between protesters and police in Hong Kong.

The commentary, like yesterday’s attributed to “a commentator from this paper,” or benbao pinglunyuan (本报评论员), marking it as a staff-written piece representing views in the senior leadership, was a stern warning to so-called “external forces” accused of fomenting discord in order to “impede the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people.”

The commentary says that Xi Jinping’s speech at the 11th BRICS summit of leaders in Brazil — also referenced in yesterday’s commentary — had “sent a severe warning to the radical Hong Kong rioters and their behind-the-scenes supporters.” Continue reading

Parents of HK protesters come to the front lines

Source: NYT (11/19/19)
Parents of Besieged Hong Kong Protesters Come to the Front Lines
The parents of young people under siege at a university emerged as a call for compromise.
By Tiffany May and 

Teachers and relatives waited for student protesters to surrender at Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Tuesday. Credit…Thomas Peter/Reuters

HONG KONG — One mother fell to her knees before riot police officers and begged for her daughter’s release. Another promised she would boil soup for a trapped son before he made a desperate escape across police lines. From a distance, a father got his first glimpse of his son in days — as the son was led away in handcuffs.

As the police siege of Hong Kong Polytechnic University trapped more than 1,000 pro-democracy protesters this week, another group entangled in the city’s crisis has turned conspicuously outspoken: their parents.

The voices of mothers and fathers, racked by fear and anger, emerged as a call for compromise in the standoff on the campus, where on Tuesday several dozen holdouts remained. Continue reading

China thinks it can defeat HK protesters; it can’t

Source: Washington Post (11/15/19)
China thinks it can defeat Hong Kong’s protesters. It can’t.
The mighty behemoth will have to make concessions to end the conflict.
By Keith B. Richburg 

A rally at Edinburgh Place in Hong Kong on Thursday. (Justin Chin/Bloomberg)

A rally at Edinburgh Place in Hong Kong on Thursday. (Justin Chin/Bloomberg)

Protracted conflicts typically end in one of two ways: Either the party with overwhelming force subjugates the other and declares a complete victory, or the two sides get tired of fighting and make a deal.

In Hong Kong — now in its sixth month of an increasingly violent, seemingly intractable conflict — China’s communist rulers and their handpicked chief executive, Carrie Lam, seem intent on achieving a total victory over a leaderless, loosely organized, youth-driven protest movement that has paralyzed the city and plunged the economy into recession. The protesters “will never win,” Lam has vowed, and it’s “wishful thinking” to believe that the government will ever yield. And there’s no doubt China has the overwhelming power in this dispute, as well as the will to dominate.

But Beijing is not going to get its way. Continue reading

LGBTQ+ Rights and the Struggle for Democracy in HK

Roundtable: ‘LGBTQ+ Rights and the Struggle for Democracy in Hong Kong’
Date: 25 Nov 2019
Time: 18:00-19:30
Venue: Room UG05, 309 Regent Street, W1B 2GW, University of Westminster, London
ALL ARE WELCOME but registration is required here.

Photo credit: Hong Kong Pride 2018 (with permission from Dr Daniel Conway)

Abstract:

Hong Kong has been gripped by widespread protests and demands for greater democracy in recent months.  While studies have begun to address the engagement of other marginalized groups such as women and ethnic minority in social movements and protest, the roles that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer plus (LGBTQ+) people play in non-LGBTQ+ specific politics have been given little academic attention. This invisibilization of LGBTQ+ people in wider social movement raises many questions. This roundtable will begin to explore the level of engagement of LGBTQ+ people in the movement for democracy in Hong Kong, pose questions about the intersections between LGBTQ+ rights and democracy and social justice, and ask whether these rights are articulated  in intersectional terms, or whether LGBTQ+ communities and rights are being overlooked or in the current protests in Hong Kong. We will also discuss comparisons with LGBTQ+ people and rights discourses in other struggles for democracy and social justice.

Speakers: Dr Suen Yiu Tung (Chinese University of Hong Kong), Eliz Wong (London School of Economics and Political Science) and Dr Daniel Conway (University of Westminster) Continue reading

HK is trying to impose Tiananmen by stealth

Source: The Independent (11/12/19)
Hong Kong is trying to impose Tiananmen by stealth – Carrie Lam herself is now the ‘enemy of the people’
This isn’t a confrontation between the government and rebellious youths. It is a clash between a lame-duck government imposing the iron will of Beijing and millions of citizens
By Stuart Heaver

The regular weekend street protests in Hong Kong have spilled over into pitch battles in the middle of the working day in the city’s busy financial district, as Carrie Lam’s beleaguered government gives the police a free hand to impose a Beijing style crackdown on all forms of dissent.

There may be no tanks, but many believe the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops are already here, disguised as Hong Kong riot police as part of a concerted policy to impose Tiananmen by stealth and create a climate of fear.

It can’t be verified but riot police in full body amour looking like stormtroopers from a science fiction movie, wear masks, show no official ID and are often heard speaking in Putonghua dialect. They could be anyone. The average height of Hong Kong police officers appears to have increased by about 10cm since July and photos circulated online by the Demosisto party, appear to show Hong Kong police mustered inside a PLA barracks. Their primary job is to intimidate. Continue reading

Universities become battlegrounds

Source: SCMP (11/13/19)
High Court denies injunction sought by Chinese University student leader to bar Hong Kong police from campus after days of clashes with protesters
Jacky So files for temporary injunction after CUHK was the site of clashes between protesters and riot police that led to 119 people being injured. But court dismisses bid, with lawyer arguing that criminals could hide on campus if police did not have a warrant to enter
By Tony Cheung

[See also: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3037454/hong-kong-anti-government-protests-pitched-battles-campuses and https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/13/world/asia/hong-kong-protests-students.html]

Clashes erupt on Tuesday between anti-government protesters and riot police on the campus of Chinese University. Photo: Winson Wong

Clashes erupt on Tuesday between anti-government protesters and riot police on the campus of Chinese University. Photo: Winson Wong

A Hong Kong court has dismissed an urgent injunction application by a Chinese University student leader to bar unauthorised police from campus after the school became a battleground for anti-government protesters and the authorities.

Jacky So Tsun-fung, the CUHK student union president, filed an application on Wednesday for the temporary injunction to the High Court after his school was the site of a tense stand-off between protesters and riot police that started on Monday and led to 119 people being injured.

The court heard that protesters stalled public transport for two days by throwing objects from a No. 2 Bridge above a highway and the MTR East Rail line. Riot police arriving at the bridge were brought to a standstill by protesters who hurled petrol bombs at the officers. Continue reading

HK’s Monday of mayhem

Source: Sup China (11/11/19)
Hong Kong’s Monday of mayhem

Photo credit: SupChina illustration

For most of the 24 weeks of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the city has seethed on weekends but returned to something resembling normalcy on weekdays. Only twice have there been significant exceptions to that — a general strike on Wednesday, June 12, and further strikes and an occupation of the airport for days in early August. Today was the third exception, as a protester was shot and critically injured by what appeared to be a traffic cop at about 7:15 a.m., according to the Hong Kong Free Press.

Later in the day, a man was “set alight following a heated argument” with demonstrators, and was admitted to a nearby hospital with severe burns, AFP reports. The South China Morning Post has more on the status of the two injured persons, and other details on what it calls the day’s “unprecedented working-hours mayhem”: Continue reading

Anger in HK after student dies

Source: NYT (11/7/19)
Anger in Hong Kong After Student Dies From Fall Following Clash With Police
The death of the student, Chow Tsz-lok, ignited public fury after months of antigovernment demonstrations.
By Austin Ramzy and

Protesters with placards that read “missing classmate Chow” gathered Friday outside the home of the president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Credit…Kin Cheung/Associated Press

HONG KONG — A Hong Kong student died on Friday after falling earlier this week from a parking garage where police officers clashed with protesters, a development that further escalated the public’s fury after months of antigovernment demonstrations.

Chow Tsz-lok, who was a student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, sustained head and pelvis injuries when he fell one story early Monday morning. His death on Friday morning was confirmed by the city’s Hospital Authority.

Anger with the police has run high over the force’s widespread use of tear gas, pepper spray and batons on demonstrators during five months of protest. A key demand of the protest movement, which began over a now-withdrawn extradition bill, has been an independent investigation into the police’s use of force. Continue reading

How real estate looms behind HK’s unrest

Source: Lausan (11/6/19)
How real estate hegemony looms behind Hong Kong’s unrest: an interview with Alice Poon
Economic justice in Hong Kong requires land and tax policy reform.
By Brian Ng

A public housing estate in Wong Tai Sin, 1 October 2019. Photo: Alex Yun

Unaffordable rents, while not explicitly addressed by the movement’s key demands, shape every facet of Hong Kong’s civic life. Nearly half of Hong Kong flats rent for upwards of 20,000 HKD (2,550 USD) a month, more than 70% of median household income—making it the world’s costliest housing market. Even with the availability of underutilized land, the government has failed to build more public housing or reduce rents. This is partially due to Hong Kong’s residual colonial institutions, where authorities tasked with land reacquisition and planning also act as land developers and land premium negotiators; they use taxpayer funding to finance private development without public consultation or oversight.

These labyrinthe semi-public statutory authorities, such as the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), MTR Corporation, and Link Real Estate Investment Trust (Link REIT), are motivated by profit from land premium rather than the public good. For instance, the MTR has increased transit fares disproportionate to the cost of living; Link REIT, the largest real estate investment trust by market capitalization in Asia, has been known to dramatically increase rents and management fees. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government’s dependence on land premiums for revenue has led to nonchalance: on the issue of high transit fares, Chief Executive Carrie Lam remarked publicly in 2017 that “there is really nothing [she] can do.” Continue reading

HK campuses as political battlefields

Source: SCMP (10/30/19)
Hong Kong university chiefs caught in crossfire as protest tensions risk turning campuses into political battlefields
Backing protesters risks offending authorities; condemning violence will anger students. Students attend lectures dressed in black, equipped to go directly to protests if needed.
By Chris Lau and Gigi Choy

Students make up about a fifth of the 2,711 people arrested over protests since June. Illustration: Perry Tse

Students make up about a fifth of the 2,711 people arrested over protests since June. Illustration: Perry Tse

Chinese University vice-chancellor Rocky Tuan Sung-chi found himself surrounded by his students, some dressed in black, some masked, many upset and in tears.

They demanded that he and the university condemn police brutality in Hong Kong’s ongoing anti-government protests, now in their fifth month. Some called him “a disgrace to Chinese University” for staying silent, while others pointed laser beams at him.

The October 10 meeting took a dramatic turn when a female student whipped off her mask and claimed she was sexually abused while in police custody after being arrested at a protest.

He found himself under fresh attack immediately. Continue reading

I will die with the city

Source: Washington Post (10/25/19)
‘I will die with the city’: A young woman’s chilling message from Hong Kong’s front lines
By Chermaine Lee

A woman is arrested by police after residents and protesters gathered outside the Mong Kok Police Station in September in Hong Kong. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

A woman is arrested by police after residents and protesters gathered outside the Mong Kok Police Station in September in Hong Kong. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

HONG KONG — Every Friday, Alexa dines at home with her father, a single man who she says is unaware of his daughter’s secret. Afterward, the 21-year-old college student kisses her teddy bear good night.

Then, as the weekend arrives, she slips out of their Kowloon apartment and hits the streets to join Hong Kong’s fight for democracy amid increasing crackdowns by the city’s Beijing-backed authorities.

Often, she doesn’t return home until Monday morning. When her father asks her whereabouts, “I tell him I am working late,” she said. Continue reading

HK protests spread to US colleges

Source: NYC (10/26/19)
Hong Kong Protests Spread to U.S. Colleges, and a Rift Grows
By Emma Goldberg

A student who attended protests in Hong Kong spoke at the University of California, Davis, this month. The conflict is spilling onto campuses across the U.S., highlighting rising tensions between students.

A student who attended protests in Hong Kong spoke at the University of California, Davis, this month. The conflict is spilling onto campuses across the U.S., highlighting rising tensions between students. Credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

For much of the year, Frances Hui followed the Hong Kong demonstrations from her dorm room at Emerson College, feeling guilty that she was safe in Boston while clashes grew increasingly violent for her fellow Hong Kongers.

But when she protested on campus in support of the movement this month, she did not expect to fear for her own well-being.

Students from mainland China, she said, confronted her with expletives and lewd gestures. Earlier, a classmate posted an op-ed she had written, titled “I Am From Hong Kong, Not China,” along with a Facebook comment: “Whomever opposes my greatest China, no matter how far they are, must be executed.” Continue reading

Hong Kong’s sinkhole

Source: Verso Books (10/11/19
Hong Kong’s Sinkhole
By Pang Laikwan
The protests in Hong Kong continue to escalate. Yet, the Western left has struggled to come to terms with the situation – torn between the contradictory desire to support the movement and the mainly liberal democratic demands of the protestors themselves. In this article, Pang Laikwan analyses the nature and stakes of the movement.

Lead_720_405-1-

I am often asked how Xi Jinping compares to Mao Zedong, and whether another cultural revolution is approaching. To this, my responses are always consistent: Xi might want to model himself on Mao for his leadership skills and charisma, and they might share a common will to power; but from the perspective of political philosophy the two Chinese leaders are polar opposites. The former Party chief truly believed in revolution, while the current one seems to be interested only in protecting the status quo. Mao was an exceptional Chinese leader, willing China into chaos with an, ultimately unrealistic, hope that only a radical social upheaval could save the Chinese people from feudalism and capitalism. Xi however understands and appeals to the deep Confucian and pragmatic psychology of the Chinese people with the promise of perpetual order and wealth. Under Xi’s leadership, there is no chance of a repeat of the 1966 Cultural Revolution in China. Yet what is possible is a new political movement, one that could happen at any time and taking a completely different form to wreak havoc once more. Continue reading