Now, the Occupy Central – now also under the name Umbrella Revolution – move meet has pushed forward and gained terrain against the Chinese government. In October 21st, the student leaders, the renowned Alex Chow of HKFS with them, held talks with a government delegation led by Carrie Lam after the talks with the government were called off earlier that month. However, these talks were considered to be unsuccessful and fruitless.
Two days later, a group of protesters hiked the iconic Lion Rock to set up a banner in attempt to gain more presence. The banner included a pro-democracy slogan. But, this banner was later took down by government officials.
Despite this gained ground for the protesters, they have been greatly pushed back by the government of China. In attempt to spread out their movement, Alex Chow and two other students were accompanied by 300 supporters as they attempted to fly over to Beijing. The intentions of the trip were supposedly to meet up with the Chinese authorities and discuss the matter. However, this attempt was unsuccessful as their traveling visas were deemed as invalid. Currently, the pro-democracy protesters and students in Hong Kong are not allowed to go elsewhere in China under the notion that they are threats to national security.
“A growing number of people in Hong Kong who have taken part in the city’s recent pro-democracy protests are suddenly finding themselves denied entry into China. The action has shocked many and sparked widespread belief that Chinese authorities have assembled a blacklist with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of names in recent months.” (Source: theguardian.com)
The notion of these blacklists have created the sense of paranoia amongst many of the citizens of Hong Kong.
Later on, in November 26th, police officials mobilize into the Mong Kok to dismantle the protesters’ camp site. This events brings about violent clashes between the protesters and the police. And over the following nights, the protesters attempt to regain the camp.
Four days after, in retaliation to the Mong Kok incident, hundreds of protesters blockade government offices. However, the protesters are fenced by police officials who use water hoses and batons against them. This goes on from November 30th to December 1st.
The following day, December 2nd, the three co-founders of Occupy Central - Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming – hold a conference to call the students to retreat, as they reestablish their goals to focus on reforming the civil society.
December 6th, teenage activist, Joshua Wong, ends his four day hunger strike due to a doctor’s recommendation.
Then onwards, the police officials move on forward at taking down the blockade as they are met with no resistance. However, protesters claim that this will not be the end of it.
Thus, we are left with the question of whether Beijing has succeeded at taking down the protesters or whether there is more to come from them.
Since late October, the momentum of the Occupy Central movement has been spiraling down to the point of reestablishing their goals. For some people this is concerning, for in reestablishing the goals of the movement, is Occupy Central aiming to improve the conditions of Hong Kong.
Clearly, the focus is on the reform of the civil society, so in a sense, to a degree the movement is attempting to improve the conditions of Hong Kong. But, of course, others would be concern with the notion that these are diluted goals that may only improve the superficial aspects of that society.
However, another position that I haven’t talked about yet is the Anti-Occupy perspective which concerned itself with the economic stagnation of Hong Kong. Essentially, in this view people believe that the Occupy movement will slow down business and economics in Hong Kong, thus resisting the protests. In this regard, what they are left with is relief.
Another element to the Hong Kong conflict is that the protesters have, to some degree, a nationalistic response by branding themselves as “not China.” A similar statement can be said about Taiwan for that matter. I believe BBC’s Carrie Gracie puts this idea eloquently when she says that:
“Far from assimilating easily to an increasingly wealthy China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are growing more defiant. And adding to the list of troublesome peripheries whose citizens can’t be trusted to behave like true Chinese patriots…” (Source: bbc.com.)
While China’s government is trying to unify its population through a message appealing to the community, this is failing to reach the key audiences in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Ultimately, it seems that the problem in China not only has a political and economic dimension, but also a sociological-nationalistic dimension concerning the communities of people that live within China’s territory.
Thus, in talking about Hong Kong, and Taiwan by extension, we should take precautions in understanding that these populations do not identify as Chinese, for they are not held together by the same national identity and national values that weave their movements against Beijing.
Only time will tell whether the protesters in Hong Kong were true about coming back against Beijing.