Last month we spoke to Hong Kong revolutionary socialist Lam Chi Leung about the mass movement. Following events in the past month, as well as reponses from readers, we caught up with him again.
How is the mood in Hong Kong since Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of the Extradition Bill on 4 September?
Lam’s announcement was largely a case of striking a pose. As early as mid-June she had halted the legislative change, but she had avoided using the word “withdrawal”. More noteworthy is the fact that she completely refused to accept the remaining four demands of the mass movement (for an independent commission to investigate police violence, the withdrawal of the “riot” designation, the release of arrested protestors, and genuine universal suffrage).
John Smith puts the Hong Kong protests of recent weeks into the broader contexts of Hong Kong’s development over the past few decades, its growing connections with the hugely important Pearl River Delta area and the growth of an increasingly aware, organised and militant Chinese working class.
The 2 million-strong demonstration in Hong Kong on 17 June and the proliferation of smaller demonstrations led by students and student-worker alliances, have been truly exciting.
Hong Kong MPs have thrown out a bill proposed by China that would tighten its control over how the country’s leader, known as the chief executive, is elected. Only eight of the 70 MPs voted for the change.
The original move to alter the already undemocratic elections, decided by a 1,200-member committee loyal to the government in Beijing, to one where candidates had to be selected from a Chinese approved list, triggered one of the biggest mass movements in the former British colony’s history.
We revisit Hong Kong-based socialist Au Loong Yu to talk about the dangers and opportunities that have emerged from Occupy Central.
What is the state of the Occupy Central movement now?
Many people want to continue the movement but some of the pan-Democratic parties [those who support democratic reform] don’t know what to do practically. The biggest issue is the passing of the bill implementing Beijing’s favoured system of electing Hong Kong’s government.
Hong Kong’s Occupy movement inspired vast numbers of young people to take action in opposition to China’s plans to limit previously promised democratic reforms. While Hong Kong citizens would have the right to elect their Chief Executive for the first time, they would have to choose from a handful of pre-approved candidates. After months of inspiring protests in the face of police repression the organisers called off the street occupations, after which the student leaders have come under heavy criticism from some sections of the movement. In a follow up to his article in November’s Socialist Review, Hong Kong: Spontaneity and the Mass Movement, revolutionary socialist Au Loong Yu defends the student leaders and sets out the lessons of the movement.
The Umbrella Movement has not met its objective to force the government of China to withdraw its resolution on political reform in Hong Kong. Some people have ridiculed the students for imposing limits on the movement and accuse them of deliberately refusing to escalate the actions that could have delivered a victory.
It amazes me that the shadow secretary of state for education can take trips to South East Asia and come back having learnt the wrong lessons. Tristram Hunt visited Singapore recently and returned saying that if teachers were made to swear an oath “about continuing to learn and to pass on the love of learning” then suddenly the status of teachers would improve.
Lam Chi Leung is a revolutionary socialist based in Hong Kong. He spoke to Sally Kincaid and Sally Campbell about the future of the Umbrella movement one month on.
Is the movement still going strong?
Today (28 October) marks exactly one month since the Umbrella movement broke out. The occupation of the streets continues, but the number of demonstrators has started to decrease from its peak of 200,000.
Hong Kong's Occupy movement has inspired and engaged vast numbers of young people. Au Loong Yu, a revolutionary socialist, assesses its strengths and weaknesses following pitched battles with the police.
The retaking of the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong by occupiers on 18 October relied on the courage of protesters, most of whom have never been a member of a political party. These new participants in the movement faced up to police violence with huge determination.