#FreeHongKong – the path of Non-Violent Resistance

Posted: November 12, 2019 in Hong Kong, Washington, DC

See below – for the quotation I mentioned this week on Twitter @dwalshmedia from a recent Hong Kong resident speaking about protesters being criticized for disrupting worker commute.

November 12, 2019 – At this time, Hong Kong or HKSAR is understood to be the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC People’s Republic of China – a sort of hybrid, ultra-heated commerce zone – for China to be able to carry out its principle of One country – Two systems.

Hong Kong has its own legal system unique from the Law of the PRC and based on the combination of English common law which has evolved over time in local cases and with local legislation coded in the Laws of Hong Kong. The Basic Law guarantees: The continuation of the English common law system (laws based on judicial precedent) that has been practiced in Hong Kong for more than 170 years. It is on this basis that the masses of Hong Kong people that take to the streets and current political upheaval must be understood.

Historically the British occupied the island of Hong Kong in 1841, during the First Opium War. In 1841 China had to give Hong Kong up to the British signing the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 and ending the war.

Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841 onward.

Hong Kong was occupied by Japan, from 1941 to 1945. When the Allies won WWII Hong Kong was surrendered back to the British, in 1945 until 1997.

In 1997 Hong Kong was transferred (returned) to China.

Administratively today Hong Kong is described as a devolved executive led within a socialist republic and includes; Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam; Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung; Council President Andrew Leung; and Chief Justice, Geoffrey Ma. Hong Kong’s legislature is called the Legislative Council. The region is nationally represented by National People’s Congress of 36 deputies and a Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference of 203 delegates.

Hong Kong has not historically been used to the kind of political demonstration the region is currently experiencing. In 2019 protesters, in what has been dubbed the #FreeHongKong movement, made the claim that, all told, it could be said that more than a million residents have been attracted to its genesis. The region’s emerging democratic personality has evolved over a short time, with the birth of the Umbrella Movement being reported as 2014. There is a focus within the movement on a strategy and on historic English common law having penetrated the psyche of Hong Kong-ers, with human rights, universal suffrage, rule of law and free and fair elections are part of a more long term freedom-fight praxis.

The actual trigger for the current unrest is purported to have been the Proposed Extradition bill of 2019 which would allow China to target and extradite fugitives. The protests are believed to be a combination of well organized on-line demonstrations in Hong Kong against the Hong Kong government’s Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019. In part because it was a visible demonstration just how not-autonomous Hong Kong was actually seen to be by the Central Government in China. Democratic reform is a key component of the battle in the streets, spurred on it’s been suggested by some onlookers by a reaction to Causeway Bay Books disappearances.

Of note, the Wikipedia on Hong Kong cities “nominee per-screening, discrepancies in the electoral registry and disqualification of elected legislators after the 2016 Legislative Council elections” as some of the reasons for the unrest.

The upshot, today, is democratic activists share the position that that China fully intends to micro-manage nominee suitability and stop any kind of widespread democratic development and so they’ve taken to resisting this crackdown unapologetically.

Seemingly, the moment the world has started watching intently and more visibly lending support on social media for #FreeHongKong, media images of a man set on fire by a masked flash mob emerge – on Nov 12, 2019.  “A man who argued with a group of rioters in Ma on Shan was doused with a flammable liquid and set alight.” (scmp.com, Nov 11, 2019). The police are calling it attempted murder and have launched an investigation. It is difficult to find a cohesive statement anywhere. One would have expected a push-back from protesters distancing themselves from the violence. Most of the media reports share the institutional response. The Guardian is reporting that police are claiming that “protesters are pushing Hong Kong to the brink of collapse.” (The Guardian, Nov 11, 2019). The timing is relevant.

“As Hong Kong’s protests rage on, Xi Jinping’s meeting with Carrie Lam and China’s fourth plenum promise more interference. The attention paid to Hong Kong during the fourth plenum and news that central government officials will come to the city to explain the meeting’s communiqué should arouse concern.”(Opinion: David Zweig, scmp.com, Published 9 am 12 Nov, 2019).

Seen by many democracy activists as China’s ‘appointed puppet’, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong Chief Executive, is said to have the confidence of Chinese leaders and the Chinese police (PLA) will not necessarily show their faces on the streets of Hong Kong. Others would like to see Lam on her way out and believe that the unity and confidence displayed by China is just a smoke-screen for the Western press to make it look as though a total crackdown by specifically China’s military/security/police forces is not yet in the cards but is veiled threat felt on the streets everywhere nonetheless. China displayed massive military might on social media on Oct 1, 2019 and the warning to Hong Kong was clear as day.

Chinese leaders say they expect the local government to prioritize dispersing the unrest. Local officials have clearly failed to calm the unrest. They have never been required to act politically. They are ‘newbies’ in that sense. Protesters in Hong Kong continue to show confidence in the Telegram app and Bridgefly, with the reported loophole now fixed.

Advanced technology to capture the movements and faces of protesters is being employed including the use of artificial intelligence by government, reported the BBC World News, BBCNews.com, on Sept 23, 2019. Protesters apparently sawed through traffic posts and found evidence of a surveillance company. The report went on to say, protesters are using lasers to disrupt sensors. Goggles and germ masks are being worn as self-protection from tear gas.  The Valiant and The First Aider is described as a key category of protester. The former raises the freedom banner and challenges authority putting herself or himself in harm’s way, and the latter swabs the injured and speaks with the liberal media as a both a nurse and an endorser. The Black flag is issued by police when they intend to use tear gas. In response, protesters have lit barricades on fire. Protesters claim they are following Bruce Lee’s mantra, “Be water”.

This has all the ingredients of an escalating crisis – use of water cannons by police and police kettling of protestors. On Nov 11, 2019 the hashtag #FreeHongKong on twitter includes video of the protestor that was shot close range by police.

Protesters are being criticized for disrupting commuters and vandalizing subway stations. In a recent interview with a Hong Kong resident she expressed these thoughts:

This is wide open to agent provocateurs. Tsuen Wan is featuring in the news. The universities in Hong Kong (this space) are  hot spots. It appears to be becoming increasingly violent. The protests are disrupting working people trying to get on with their day. It is unclear who the head is or is there is a head. There is a lot of volatility about it. Random reaction. Hong Kongers have never had to fight for anything! It is like they are being handed over to a biological parent. They are trying to be independent. The movement needs to be non-violent, Gandhian. It has the appearances of anarchy. They are seeking emancipation. But they are not ready for self-government. China will not give up Hong Kong! Hong Kong is about commerce. When it comes to political training it is still in infancy.

BBC World News, Nov 12, 2019 at 5:45 pm PST reported on TV that the Hong Kong protests showed no signs of letting up. Markets are slipping and nervous investors look on. It all has the appearance as looking more like a conflict between the police and a growing protester intelligentsia. Protesters say they are being compelled to increase their precautions to self-protect.

Update: Nov 14, 2019 Reuters   ‪- ‘Flaming arrows and petrol bombs: Inside Hong Kong protesters

Nov 15, 2019 PBS News Hour ‪- ‘In Hong Kong, public outrage toward police rises as violence spreads’

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1824 Hong Kong bill

https://twitter.com/m_johnston1/status/1198411981222502400?s=2

November 25, 2019 New York Times- Hong Kong election mapped

June 30, 2020 Hong Kong Security Law explained – New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/30/world/asia/hong-kong-security-law-explain.html

 

Comments are closed.