Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hong Kong: The Revolution IS Being Televised

Photo by May James / Hong Kong Free Press
‘The Revolution is being televised’ ...on YouTube and Twitter. 

As a “China-watcher” for some years, I am seeing something kinda new and significant in this Hong Kong “Summer of Protest.” 

Unlike the soul-stirring (and ultimately suppressed) student-led “Umbrella Movement” of 2014, there is no visible leadership here. In some places, 'conventional nonviolence' has given way to strategies inspired by Kung Fu philosophy, with guerrilla style disruptive tactics, savvy coordination via the internet, and surveillance-resistant anonymity, all of which enables current groups of demonstrators to have a remarkable degree of elusiveness and mobility. There have been some accusations of protester violence; but the obvious problem is police thuggery. Meanwhile, obsequious local public officials continue to dance to Beijing's tune.

Protesters have been taking to the streets on weekends since the beginning of June, when local legislation was proposed that would allow mainland China to extradite criminal suspects from the semi-autonomous former British colony. The legislation has been "suspended" (but not revoked), and protest demands have expanded to include the perennially controversial overall aspects of the current "One-Country-Two-Systems" arrangement.

This is a dangerous situation.

One thing seems clear regarding Hong Kong politics in the past decade: the kids are not buying it. They don't want their future to be some kind of new Soviet Union "with-Chinese-characteristics." The kids are taking enormous risks, dressed in black and wearing face masks, using 2019 technology in the spirit, bravery, restraint, and cleverness of classic Chinese martial arts heroes. Their opponent is a behemoth, but the kids ought not to be underestimated. Indeed, multitudes from every sector of Hong Kong society are calling for justice and respect for their human dignity. 

I don’t know how it will all play out, but if Beijing sends in the People's Liberation Army they will not find these protesters planted like sitting ducks to be shot down. They may instead be up against the ghost of Bruce Lee (with an encrypted cell phone). 

What will China do then? This is a dangerous situation, indeed. Stay tuned...