HK police arrest Cardinal Joseph Zen

Source: NYT (5/11/22)
Hong Kong Police Arrest Former Bishop in National Security Case
Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, was among three held for their work with a legal aid group that helped protesters and that officials accuse of colluding with foreign powers.
By Austin Ramzy and Tiffany May

Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, has been critical of the official crackdown in Hong Kong.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, has been critical of the official crackdown in Hong Kong. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — The Hong Kong police arrested three prominent activists on Wednesday, including a retired bishop and a pop star who were leaders of a legal aid organization now under investigation for suspected violations of the city’s strict national security law, a lawyer for the group said.

The arrests are the latest in a sweeping crackdown that followed widespread antigovernment protests in 2019 and the imposition of the security law on the territory a year later. More than 170 people have been arrested under the law since it was implemented, and dozens are in custody awaiting trial.

The police arrested Cardinal Joseph Zen, a 90-year-old former bishop; Denise Ho, a prominent Cantopop singer and L.G.B.T.Q. rights activist; and Margaret Ng, a lawyer and former lawmaker. They were all trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, an organization founded in 2019 to provide grants to people who were arrested for participating in demonstrations. Continue reading

CUHK position

Associate Professor / Assistant Professor
Department of Chinese Language and Literature
Chinese University of Hong Kong
Closing Date: May 31, 2022

The Department of Chinese Language and Literature is in the Faculty of Arts that offers diversified programmes including the undergraduate and the postgraduate programmes. There has been a clear position of the Department that sets a foothold in Asia with a global vision, aiming at combining tradition with modernity and promoting traditional culture while also keeping pace with the progress of the times.

The Department is now inviting applications for the post of Associate Professor / Assistant Professor in the area of modern Chinese literature. Applicants with research interests in the global Chinese literature, transcultural studies, or media studies including films, performing arts, and audio-visual culture are particularly preferred. Further information about the Department is available at Continue reading

Star Ferry may sail into history

Source: NYT (4/19/22)
Star Ferry, ‘Emblem of Hong Kong,’ May Sail Into History After 142 Years
Launched in 1880, the ferry has witnessed both Hong Kong’s transformation into a global financial hub and its history of protests. But battered by a pandemic, the service is struggling to survive.
By Alexandra Stevenson

Passengers riding on a Star Ferry, offering spectacular views of the harbor in Hong Kong.

Passengers riding on a Star Ferry, offering spectacular views of the harbor in Hong Kong. Credit…Anthony Kwan for The New York Times

HONG KONG — On a damp Monday morning in Hong Kong, Freeman Ng looked out from the upper deck of the Star Ferry as it approached land. A sailor tossed a heavy rope to a colleague on the pier, who looped it around a bollard as the swoosh of the waves crashed against the green and white vessel pulling in from Victoria Harbor.

Mr. Ng, 43, commutes from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island on the ferry most weekdays. The subway would be much faster, but Mr. Ng prefers to cross the harbor by boat. “The feeling is better on the ferry,” he said, taking in the salt air.

Hong Kong has had many casualties over the last three years. Mass social unrest in 2019 scared off tourists and hit restaurateurs and hoteliers. Coronavirus restrictions wiped out thousands of mom-and-pop shops. But the prospect of losing the Star Ferry — a 142-year-old institution — has resonated differently. Continue reading

Yesterday Today Tomorrow review

Source: Paratext (4/15/22)
Censorhip and Creativity: The Offense of Hong Kong Cinema
By Kuan Chee Wah
Review of Yesterday Today Tomorrow: Hong Kong Cinema with Sino-links in Politics, Art, and Tradition, by Kenny Kwok-kwan Ng (Hong Kong: Chung Hwa Book Co., 2021) (吳國坤,《昨天今天明天:內地與香港電影的政治、藝術與傳統》)

On October 27, 2021, Hong Kong legislators passed an amendment bill on the censorship law, which would allow the government to halt film productions deemed threatening to national security. The amendment was an extension of the national security law which Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in July 2020 in the aftermath of the 2019 social protests against the enactment of the criminal extraction bill. Aligned with the national security law, the newly amended censorship regulation bans films that may “endorse, support, glorify, encourage, and incite activities that might endanger national security,” and citizens who hold illegal screenings of these films will face heavy penalties and jail sentence (Yau, Leung, and Ng). Continue reading

Hard-liner is favorite to run HK

Source: NYT (4/6/22)
Hard-liner Who Led Crackdown on Protests Is Favorite to Run Hong Kong
John Lee, who spent his career in Hong Kong’s security services, is likely to continue Beijing’s emphasis on political stability above all else.
By Austin Ramzy

John Lee speaking during a ceremony in July 2021 commemorating the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain.

John Lee speaking during a ceremony in July 2021 commemorating the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain. Credit…Peter Parks/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

HONG KONG — John Lee rose through the ranks of Hong Kong’s security services, earning a reputation as a hard-liner by crushing the city’s 2019 protest movement and curbing dissent as the city’s No. 2 official.

Now, he is widely expected to be Beijing’s choice to take over as Hong Kong’s leader, an appointment that would reflect the central government’s emphasis on reinforcing its grip on the once-restive city, even at the expense of its status as a global financial center.

Mr. Lee said Wednesday he had submitted his resignation as Hong Kong’s chief secretary and that he planned to run for chief executive if Beijing accepted his notice.

“It signifies he is confident that he can get the support of Beijing, otherwise you would not take the risk of resigning from your post,” said Lau Siu-kai, an adviser to Beijing on Hong Kong affairs. Continue reading

Reorienting Hong Kong Resistance

New Publication: Reorienting Hong Kong’s Resistance: Leftism, Decoloniality, and Internationalism, edited by Wen Liu, JN Chien, Christina Chung, and Ellie Tse (PalgraveMacmillan, 2022).

This collection brings together writing from activists and scholars that examine leftist and decolonial forms of resistance that have emerged from Hong Kong’s contemporary protests. Practices such as labor unionism, police abolition, land justice struggles, and other radical expressions of self-governance may not always operate under the banners of leftism and decoloniality; yet, examining them within these frameworks uncovers historical and prefigurative sightlines that reveal their significance to Hong Kong’s future, and interlaces the city’s struggles with others around the world. See table of contents below.


JN Chien Continue reading

How Beijing has muted HK’s independent media

Source: NYT (1/3/22)
How Beijing Has Muted Hong Kong’s Independent Media
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
Citizen News, a small but aggressive online publication, is the latest outlet to fold amid relentless pressure from the authorities.
By Austin Ramzy

Stand News Editor Patrick Lam being escorted into a police van in Hong Kong last month. Credit…Vincent Yu/Associated Press

HONG KONG — Citizen News, a small online news site in Hong Kong known for its in-depth coverage of courts and local politics, said it would stop publishing on Monday night, deepening concerns about the collapse of the city’s once-robust media.

Just days earlier, another independent online media outlet, Stand News, closed after hundreds of police raided its offices and arrested seven people. Two former senior editors at Stand News and the publication itself were charged with conspiracy to publish seditious materials.

The latest closures are the final chapters in the demise of independent media in Hong Kong, a city that once had some of the freest and most aggressive news media in Asia. Now, as Beijing continues a sweeping crackdown on the city, the journalists who once covered the city’s protests and politics are increasingly either under arrest or out of work, without anywhere to publish.

“What’s happening is not just another closure of a media outlet,” said Lokman Tsui, a former journalism professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “This is part of a larger project by the government of dismantling all critical media, of all independent media in Hong Kong.” Continue reading

Denise Ho arrested

Source: The Guardian (12/29/21)
Denise Ho: the Cantopop star and pro-democracy activist arrested in Hong Kong
The singer, who was swept up in a raid on people linked to StandNews, has been an outspoken critic of Beijing for years
By Rhoda Kwan in Taipei

Denise Ho in Washington in 2019 where she gave evidence to Congress about human rights abuses in Hong Kong.

Denise Ho in Washington in 2019 where she gave evidence to Congress about human rights abuses in Hong Kong. Photograph: Pablo Martínez Monsiváis/AP

The arrest of Cantopop star Denise Ho in a raid on reporters and prominent figures linked to the Hong Kong media outlet StandNews has shocked her many fans in the city and around the world.

The artist, who is also a Canadian citizen, was taken from her home in Hong Kong on Wednesday for allegedly conspiring with five others to publish seditious materials in her role as a former director of the independent news provider.

Ho’s arrest marks the first time a pop star of global renown has been detained in Hong Kong for a political crime after Beijing imposed a national security law 18 months ago in response to months of pro-democracy protests in 2019. Continue reading

HK police raid Stand News site

Source: NYT (12/28/21)
Hong Kong Police Raid Office of Pro-Democracy News Site and Arrest 7
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
Those arrested, including current and former senior staff members of Stand News, were accused of conspiring to publish seditious material. The news site announced it would shut down immediately.

The acting editor in chief of the news website, Patrick Lam, was escorted from his home by police officers on Wednesday.

HONG KONG — Hundreds of Hong Kong police officers arrested seven people connected to an outspoken pro-democracy news website and raided the site’s headquarters on Wednesday, in yet another government crackdown on the city’s once-vibrant independent press.

Within hours, the site, Stand News, announced that it would shut down immediately, and its website and social media pages would be deleted within a day. All employees were dismissed.

“Stand News’s editorial policy was to be independent and committed to safeguarding Hong Kong’s core values of democracy, human rights, freedom, the rule of law and justice,” the announcement said. “Thank you, readers, for your continued support.”

The seven were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to publish seditious material, according to the police. A senior official, Steve Li, accused the publication at a news conference of publishing “inflammatory” content intended to incite hatred toward the government and the judiciary, especially through its coverage of the city’s fierce pro-democracy protests in 2019. Continue reading

HK removes Tiananmen statue

Source: NYT (12/23/21)
Hong Kong Removes Statue That Memorialized Tiananmen Victims
The decision to take down the “Pillar of Shame,” an enduring symbol of the territory’s pro-democracy movement, was another sign of Beijing’s crackdown.
By Mike Ives

Workers removing part of the “Pillar of Shame” statue at the University of Hong Kong on Thursday. Credit…Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

The authorities in Hong Kong on Thursday removed a statue that memorialized those killed in the 1989 government massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing, the latest crackdown on political dissent in the Chinese territory.

The 26-foot copper statue, known as the “Pillar of Shame,” was created by the Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot in 1996 and shows a pile of naked corpses arranged into what looks like a ghastly obelisk. It commemorates the June 4, 1989, massacre of pro-democracy students and workers around Tiananmen Square by the Chinese government.

The Tiananmen massacre is among the most delicate topics in Chinese politics and has been largely erased from history on the Chinese mainland. But for more than two decades, Mr. Galschiot’s statue was a symbol of the pro-democracy movement in a territory that enjoyed freedoms unimaginable in the mainland. Continue reading

M+ Museum opens and is already in danger

Source: NYT (11/12/21)
Hong Kong’s M+ Museum Is Finally Open. It’s Already in Danger
The museum, billed as Asia’s premier art institution, faced construction delays and personnel problems. Now it faces its greatest challenge: the threat of censorship.
By Vivian Wang

As the M+ Museum in Hong Kong opened on Friday, its greatest challenge was just materializing: the threat of censorship from the Chinese Communist Party. Credit…Tyrone Siu/Reuters

HONG KONG — M+, Hong Kong’s sprawling new contemporary art museum, ran into problems from the start. Billed as Asia’s premier visual institution, it was four years behind schedule and an undisclosed amount over budget. Several top executives departed during the decade-long development period. At one point, an 80-foot-wide sinkhole formed on the construction site.

As the museum opened on Friday, its greatest challenge was just materializing: the threat of censorship from the Chinese Communist Party.

M+ envisioned itself as a world-class institution that could make its home city a cultural heavyweight, but those ambitions are now directly clashing with a new national security law imposed by Beijing to crush dissent.

Even before the opening, pro-Beijing figures criticized pieces in the M+ collection as an insult to China and called for them to be banned. Officials have promised to scrutinize every exhibition for illegal content. Continue reading

HK to censor old movies for security breaches

Source: Japan Times (10/27/21)
Hong Kong to censor old movies for security breaches

Going to see a foreign film, or a movie with a subject deemed problematic to the government, could soon be a tall order in Hong Kong, due to new censorship regulations. | REUTERS

Going to see a foreign film, or a movie with a subject deemed problematic to the government, could soon be a tall order in Hong Kong, due to new censorship regulations. | REUTERS

Hong Kong passed a toughened film censorship law on Wednesday empowering authorities to ban past films for “national security” threats and impose stiffer penalties for any breaches in the latest blow to the city’s artistic freedoms.

Authorities have embarked on a sweeping crackdown to root out Beijing’s critics after huge and often violent democracy protests convulsed the city two years ago.

A new China-imposed security law and an official campaign dubbed “Patriots rule Hong Kong” has since criminalized much dissent and strangled the democracy movement.

Films and documentaries have become one of many cultural areas authorities have sought to purge. Continue reading

Filming the Individual and the Collective

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “Filming the Individual and the Collective: The 2019 Pro-democracy Movement in Hong Kong Independent Documentaries,” by Judith Pernin. Find a teaser below. For the entire essay, go to: Our thanks to Judith Pernin for sharing her important work with the MCLC community.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Filming the Individual and the Collective:
The 2019 Pro-democracy Movement in Hong Kong Independent Documentaries

By Judith Pernin[*]

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October 2021)


Between June and December 2019, Hong Kong became the stage of large-scale pro-democracy protests, during which participants elaborated original strategies, along with slogans, posters, songs, videos, and documentaries. This outpouring of political creativity during social movements has many parallels in the world, and, in Hong Kong, was preceded by the 2014 Umbrella movement. The seventy-nine-day occupation inspired around thirty independent documentaries, an unprecedented number of productions for Hong Kong. Fueled by ongoing social discontent, the reconfiguration of the local documentary scene, and the convenience of social media and online platforms, audiovisual records of the 2019 protests are both diverse and ubiquitous. As in 2014, live broadcasts, investigative reports, visual manifestos, personal diaries, and documentary films reported on the movement and their actors. These media also express personal views on Hong Kong and circulate ideas and inspire mobilization locally and abroad. However, given the evolution of Hong Kong’s political situation and the shifting of local protest strategies, one could expect marked differences in the filmic treatment of the 2019 protests. The Umbrella movement was followed by 5 years of “abeyance” amid strong rebuffs against the pro-democracy movement (Lee et al. 2019). When opposition to the proposed extradition bill erupted massively on the streets in June 2019, protests and their actors had already drastically changed. Furthermore, during the half-year of the 2019 pro-democracy movement, protest modes kept on evolving, constantly adjusting to escalating police tactics and government reactions. What kind of documentaries have been produced on the 2019 movement, and how do these documentaries translate the evolution of protest modes and Hong Kong’s rapidly changing political context?


Scholars of Asian documentary cinema (Park 2015; Nornes 2007) have studied the influence of specific political environments on protest modes, filmmaking practices, and representations, influences that are also found in documentaries made on the Umbrella movement (Pernin 2020). Before examining recent productions on the 2019 protests, it is important to review the visual culture from which these new productions emerged. Despite the dominance of Hong Kong’s commercial cinema, an unprecedented number of individual and collective independent documentaries were produced on the 2014 occupation and its aftermath. Using observational techniques, young filmmakers in particular have depicted a plethora of complex characters—at once political heroes and vulnerable young people—such as the well-known activists Joshua Wong 黃之鋒, Yau Wai-ching 游蕙禎, and Edward Leung Tin-kei 梁天琦 who appear alongside ordinary protesters and citizens.[1] Their streetwise, on-the-ground politics, and emotional turmoil are subtly exposed through first-person direct narration or by the subjective voiceover of the filmmaker-participant.[2] Apart from depicting confrontations with police, these films give much space to discussions, arguments, speeches, and various forms of public address among protesters, mirroring Hongkongers’ desire for a voice through democratic processes. This tapestry of characters from distinct local cultures and subcultures, gender identities, religions, educational backgrounds, and political leanings reconfigures the image of the righteous model protesters often projected in the media, deepening our understanding of Hong Kong’s diverse society through personal stories. Close to their protagonists, the filmmakers are also able to translate their changing state of mind, from hope in the early days of the movement to despair after the clearing of occupied sites, which are often depicted as micro-utopias. What grew in the void left by this largely ineffective movement was a feeling of doom, but also the hope to take to the streets again, though in a different way, as illustrated by a couple of documentaries reflecting on the aftermath of the Umbrella movement.[3] Reviewing the breaks and continuities between 2014 and 2019 in Hong Kong documentaries, this essay is also informed by the growing scholarship on the creative practices of protests in Hong Kong in the fields of music, slogans, and visual arts (Veg 2016; Wong 2019; Veg 2020). . . [READ THE WHOLE ESSAY]


HKU on the frontline of a battle for democracy

Source: CNN (9/18/21)
One of Asia’s most prestigious universities is on the frontline of a battle for democracy
By CNN staff


Hong Kong (CNN)Students and lecturers at Hong Kong‘s most prestigious university returned from summer break this month to a very different institution.

The Democracy Wall at the University of Hong Kong (better known as HKU) — a pinboard where students once shared political thoughts — is gone. The student union, which once advocated for students, is all but defunct, with four of its members facing charges of advocating terrorism.

Although many students and academics were happy to be back on campus — many for the first time since the start of the pandemic — a political chill hangs over the university that some staff say is influencing how they teach.

While the Hong Kong government told CNN the city’s universities “continue to enjoy academic freedom,” four current HKU staff who spoke with CNN on condition of anonymity said they are more cautious about what they say in class, afraid that their own students could report them to authorities.

The self-censorship began after June last year when Beijing imposed a controversial and sweeping national security law on the city. Since then, more than 140 people have been arrested under the law, including activists, journalists, politicians and educators, and, of those, 85 have been charged. Continue reading

HK film censorship bill

Source: Nikkei Asia (9/1/21)
Hong Kong film censorship bill takes page from mainland script
Amendment up for debate on Wednesday would add to national security law pressure

A shot from the Hong Kong protest documentary “Revolution of Our Times”: The film’s director says no cinema in the city will be willing to show it. (Image courtesy of “Revolution of Our Times” team)

HONG KONG — A film censorship amendment due for debate in Hong Kong’s legislature on Wednesday is poised to further squeeze local artists already feeling the pressure from the Beijing-imposed national security law.

The bill, submitted by the government, would alter the existing film censorship law to establish a new mechanism to prohibit films “that would be contrary to the interests of national security,” according to the legislation’s preamble. Its passage would continue rolling back freedoms that once helped the city earn the nickname “Hollywood of the Far East,” creating a censorship environment ever closer to that on the mainland.

As it is, many Hong Kong filmmakers are simply giving up on screening movies with controversial themes.

Mok Kwan-ling, a director and video journalist, told Nikkei Asia that she has no chance of publicly showing her latest film featuring a young couple who met during the protests that swept the city in 2019. She rejected the government censor’s demands in June to make 14 cuts as well as change the title “Jap-uk” — which literally means to “tidy up the house” in Cantonese. The name comes from a scene where the girl rushes to her boyfriend’s house to clean up after he is arrested, before the police can search his room. The official English title is “Far From Home.” Continue reading