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Police detaining protesters who attempted to leave the Polytechnic University campus. Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Over the weekend, defiant young activists in Hong Kong demonstrated their capacity to look after themselves in the campus of Polytechnic University. I was there, and witnessed how the students worked together to build brick barricades, took over the canteen to feed hundreds and set up first-aid stations. This all amid a heavy police presence, and occasional volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets.

Then, on Sunday night, the police laid siege to the campus, saying everyone inside would be arrested for rioting – a serious offence punishable by 10 years in prison. The pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong has been in force since the summer, but the renewed anger is in response to the tragic death on 8 November of Chow Tsz-lok, a 22-year-old computer science student who fell from a car park during chaotic confrontations with the police.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester uses a slingshot in Hong Kong on Saturday.CreditCreditLillian Suwanrumpha/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“If we burn, you burn with us.” A famous line in the movie “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” has been given a new life in Hong Kong’s summerlong protests: It has come to represent the spirit unleashed by hundreds of thousands of protesters. As many commentators have pointed out, the massive, leaderless resistance movement here is a critical front-line battle against the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. A dictatorial party facing domestic and global pressures — especially from the ongoing trade negotiations with the United States — the C.C.P. is getting impatient, apparently. On Friday, it targeted leading activists and politicians in Hong Kong with a round of arrests, possibly signaling that a broader crackdown may be around the corner.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protestors at a rally at Hong Kong International Airport on Wednesday.CreditCreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

As Hong Kong’s sleepless summer of political strife wears on, not a day, nay, an hour, seems to go by without someone evoking the 1989 crackdown against another group of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. On breathless postings on Twitter, people share pictures of military exercises by Chinese troops just across the border from Hong Kong, saying or suggesting that the end is near for the protest movement here. But who knows where or when exactly those pictures were taken, or for what purpose they have been made public.

On other social networks, friends and contacts bemoan what they see as the inevitable next stage in the current escalation of violence: Chinese army boots on the ground and a blood bath in Hong Kong.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters resting on the floor of Hong Kong’s international airport on Tuesday.CreditCreditPhilip Fong/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

With the Hong Kong government paralyzed by mass protests, the chances of armed intervention from Beijing, once unthinkable, are rising by the day.

Far from hiding its intent, Beijing has been parading it in full view over the past week. The protesters, initially reviled as mobs, have been rebranded by Chinese officials as criminals and terrorists. The state media has broadcast ominous footage of its anti-riot police, who fall under the command of the People’s Liberation Army, marshaled on the Hong Kong border in Shenzhen.

To be sure, the threats against the protesters are designed to ensure that Beijing never has to carry them through.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester blocking a train door during a general strike in Hong Kong on Monday.CreditAnthony Wallace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Anyone who thought that the antigovernment demonstrations rocking Hong Kong this summer were just the doing of radicalized youngsters should think again. On Monday, the first general strike in the city in about 50 years brought the territory to a near-halt. The protesters making front page news are supported by Hong Kongers from all walks of life, whether or not they, too, take to the streets.

Hong Kong’s labor laws allow strikes only against one’s employer, not for general political causes. Yet the Confederation of Hong Kong Trade Unions announced that more than 350,000 people participated, calling in sick or taking the day off.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters amid tear gas near China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong last month.CreditTyrone Siu/Reuters

The effects of the Hong Kong protests are spreading — to bakeries, bandits and Beijing.

As messages supporting the demonstrations began appearing on the pastry skin of seasonal mooncakes, opposition to the protests suddenly took the form of muscle from the local mafia. The protesters, for their part, have recently taken to pointedly marching toward mainland China’s formal representation in the city — and to accusing both the Hong Kong police and the Chinese authorities in Beijing of enlisting criminals to do their dirty work.

On Monday, the spokesman of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, China’s top outpost in the city, finally broke its studied silence about the massive, monthslong revolts.…  Seguir leyendo »

After breaking into Hong Kong’s legislature, protesters left a message for Carrie Lam, the city’s top government official, spray-painted on a pillar: “It was you who taught me that peaceful protests are futile.”

To the young activists, the storming of the Legislative Council was an act of desperation. Three times in the past month, tremendous numbers of Hong Kongers — at one point estimated to be more than two million — marched peacefully to protest against a controversial extradition bill with China, which they fear would undermine Hong Kong’s judiciary and its freedom. The government suspended but did not withdraw the law.…  Seguir leyendo »

When hundreds of thousands of my fellow Hong Kongers took to the streets to demonstrate last month, most of the world saw people protesting provocative legislation that would allow extraditions to mainland China.

But the Chinese government, which supported the extradition measure, had a much broader view of the protests. It recognized them as the first salvo in a new cold war, one in which the otherwise unarmed Hong Kong people wield the most powerful weapon in the fight against the Chinese Communist Party: moral force.

In much of the West, moral force is underestimated. Communists never make that mistake. There is a reason Beijing will never invite the pope or the Dalai Lama for a visit to China.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters surrounded police headquarters in Hong Kong on June 21.CreditPaula Bronstein/Getty Images

The protests that have roiled Hong Kong for weeks, combining vast marches with small guerrilla operations of civil disobedience, are not the radical development that some say. They are a natural extension of protests past — an upgrade of the 2014 Umbrella Movement’s peaceful tactics of occupation. And they are a natural reaction to changing political circumstances, including a proposed bill that would allow, in effect, the extradition to mainland China of anyone in Hong Kong wanted by the Chinese authorities. The Chinese government’s power grab is accelerating the metabolism of the city’s protest movement.

Most of the leaders of past protests have been sidelined.…  Seguir leyendo »

The author during a demonstration in Hong Kong on July 11, 2015. Credit Kin Cheung/Associated Press

When the tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 1989, many Hong Kongers watched in horror on their TVs. A few days before, one million of them had marched in solidarity with the rebellious Chinese gathered in the square to ask for more liberalism and democracy from the Chinese authorities. Thirty years on, it is Hong Kong that is fighting for democratic values — for its very political survival, actually — against another onslaught by the same Communist government in Beijing.

The situation is dire. The Hong Kong government, now apparently under the direct influence of Beijing, has proposed amending existing extradition laws to give unprecedented power to Hong Kong’s leader — an official essentially chosen by the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.)…  Seguir leyendo »

Hong Kong and the Realities of China’s Rise

I returned to my native Hong Kong in 1998 after more than two decades of working as a reporter in New York City. I was hired to start a journalism program at the University of Hong Kong, my alma mater, and train a new generation of reporters to tell the stories of Hong Kong, China and Asia. It was a big and timely beat.

Hong Kong was handed over to China after 156 years of British rule 10 months before I returned. In an ingenious stroke designed to reassure the international community and Hong Kong people, China’s paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, devised the “one country, two systems” arrangement: Beijing would assume sovereignty, but Hong Kong would keep its rule of law and capitalist ways for 50 years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters outside government headquarters in Hong Kong this month. Kin Cheung/Associated Press

The run-up to the Sept. 4 election for Legislative Council is getting tense, and the governments of both Hong Kong and Beijing are watching with keen interest. For the first time, a crop of fresh-faced candidates who cut their political teeth during the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in 2014 are hoping to bring to the lawmaking body their battle to emancipate Hong Kong from Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian control.

The activists, most of whom are in their 20s, no longer believe in the promises of the “one country, two systems” principle set out in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution since Britain handed the territory back to China in 1997.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’évacuation des derniers manifestants pro-démocratie de la zone occupée de Causeway Bay, au centre-ville de Hongkong, marque la fin de la «révolte des parapluies». Le grand mouvement populaire qui secoue l’ancienne colonie britannique depuis maintenant plus de deux mois se termine dans une certaine indifférence, bien loin de l’effervescence collective des grands rassemblements des premières semaines. Ils n’étaient d’ailleurs plus qu’une poignée d’irréductibles, ce lundi, à défier encore la police aux cris de «nous reviendrons». Les récentes divisions apparues au sein des différents leaders du mouvement, conjuguées au mécontentement grandissant de la population locale, ont fini par heurter la légitimité même de la contestation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Unas chinas imprevisibles

«La historia avanza a pasos de paloma», escribe Friedrich Nietzsche. Desde hace más de un siglo, ninguna profecía se ha confirmado mejor. Hoy en día, al igual que en 1914 (la guerra que nadie quería), en 1917 (la revolución bolchevique inesperada) o en 1989 (la caída del Muro de Berlín imprevista), nadie sabe qué acontecimiento de apariencia menor determinará nuestro futuro colectivo. En este orden de cosas, y por haber visto a Joshua Wong en Hong Kong, me pregunto si la China de mañana se parecerá a Joshua Wong o al presidente Xi Jinping.

Xi Jinping reina en Pekín mientras que Joshua Wong solo tiene dieciocho años y no ejerce ningún poder, pero es la figura emblemática de la revuelta de los jóvenes de Hong Kong contra la dictadura comunista.…  Seguir leyendo »

"We'll be back" banners and posters proclaimed on the 75th and final day of the pro-democracy protests that have upended Hong Kong.

Whether that's a threat or a wan hope depends on who you ask right now.

The students that formed the "Umbrella Movement" -- named for the humble umbrella used to protect against tear gas and pepper spray -- are morose but defiant, and more alienated than ever.

Pro-government supporters have transformed from being rather passionless parrots of the Beijing line into fire-breathing zealots demanding Hong Kong police bash the heads of anyone stepping into the streets.

Emotions are clearly raw, and probably will continue to be into 2015.…  Seguir leyendo »

The peaceful protesters occupying the streets of Hong Kong for more than two months have been surprisingly persistent in their pursuit of genuine universal suffrage. It is welcome news that some student leaders are considering bringing the occupation to an end. They are exhausted and have been unwilling to go home without substantial concessions from the Hong Kong and Beijing governments.

Many protesters still think too little has been achieved. They see the lack of concessions from the Hong Kong government as a reason to continue pressing on. I disagree. The Umbrella Movement has awakened the democratic aspirations of a whole generation of Hong Kong people.…  Seguir leyendo »

The dramatic opening of the Occupy Central movement five weeks ago, complete with liberal use of batons, pepper spray and tear gas by the police against unarmed students, triggered a surge of support for the young pro-democracy protesters. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of demonstrators still occupy several of the city’s main traffic arteries, camping out in neat lines of colorful tents.

That police brutality unexpectedly heralded the amazing rise of a new socio-political force. Already dubbed the Occupy Central Generation, its members, drawn from the cohorts born during and since the 1980s, are mostly students and young workers, many of them professionals.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tuesday night marked one month since the day Hong Kong’s police attacked peaceful pro-democracy protesters with tear gas and pepper spray, inadvertently inspiring thousands more people to occupy the streets for the right to freely elect Hong Kong’s leaders.

I was being detained by the police on that day, Sept. 28, for having participated in a student-led act of civil disobedience in front of the government’s headquarters. I was held for 46 hours, cut off from the outside world. When I was released, I was deeply touched to see thousands of people in the streets, rallying for democracy. I knew then that the city had changed forever.…  Seguir leyendo »

El movimiento democrático en Hong Kong ha ganado admiración en todo el mundo. Los principios, la decencia y la conducta de su vanguardia joven inspiran confianza en las cualidades de una generación que algún día gobernará la gran ciudad. Dicho eso, ya es hora de avanzar con inteligencia hacia la etapa final.

Mientras más tiempo dure el punto muerto entre el jefe ejecutivo de Hong Kong y los manifestantes, más daño sufrirán Hong Kong y sus ciudadanos. El gobierno hongkonese debería de mostrar un poco de sentido de Estado, que con seguridad correspondería la llamada “revolución de los paraguas” (Umbrella movement), que ahora tiene la ventaja moral y no desea perder el apoyo del público.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hong Kong’s Pop Culture of Protest

In the first few days of the pro-democracy protest here, haughty newspaper editorials branded the demonstrators as naïve dreamers. The students responded by daubing a quote from John Lennon’s “Imagine” over various parts of the main sit-in site in the Admiralty neighborhood: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

The line turned out to be prophetic: The protesters’ ranks soon swelled so much that journalists stopped trying to estimate the numbers. The choice of a Western pop song was also defining. Hong Kong is an international city, and ever since the former British colony was swallowed up by China in 1997, its residents have expected to live by global, not Chinese, standards.…  Seguir leyendo »