By Pham Ngoc Anh
Hong Kong protests is known as “Umbrella Revolution” which began in September 20014 and is displayed as peaceful protests in the face up Communism. The protests demand for full democracy, namely the right to be nominated and direct elected the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. In 1997, Britain gave Hong Kong back to China in a transfer up sovereignty colloquially nickname the handover after over 150 years of colonial government. Currently, China rules Hong Kong under a one country – two systems formula and grants the city a degree of independence and freedom. However, on September 21, 2014, China’s parliament insisted that the Hong Kong citizens are entitled to nominate for the Chief Executive in 2017 that are approved by the election commission in Beijing (1). The protests were raised against this decision of Hong Kong people, especially students. On September 22, 2014, Hong Kong student organizations began protesting outside the Government headquarters demanding democracy (2). The main player involved these protests are the students associations, young families and professionals versus the Chinese and Hong Kong Government’s triad gangs and the anti-Occupy movement (3). Students and younger citizens feel a little common with mainland China and want Hong Kong to become politically autonomous. What gave protest nickname “Umbrella Revolution” was the fact that people started to use umbrellas to protect them from spray pepper (1).
In the 2014, Hong Kong protests are distinctive in their attention to peaceful assembly cleanliness and tech- savvy communication. Protesters organized recycling stations and cleaning plastic waste. In order to keep contact with others, protesters used “Fire chat” – a cross – platform mobile phone app using by Bluetooth or Wi-Fi link between phone to phone. This app allows people to contact each other without internet networks or traditional mobile. What gave protest nickname “Umbrella Revolution” was the fact that people started to use umbrellas to protect them from spray pepper (1).
While there are no officially leaders of the protests, there are several active players. One of them is Joshua Wong who turned 18 in the midst of protests (3). He is a co-leader of Scholarism which is a student activism group. Joshua Wong has taken part in many other protests. China’s mainland state –run media regularly targeted him as he has drawn heavy criticism from Beijing. He has stated that the value guiding protests is non-violence (4). Joshua Wong is a leader of students from 20 universities and colleges. They refused to go to classes 1 week before protests to against Beijing’s decision. After months of protests, the Chinese University run survey and found that people responded that they did not trust the Hong Kong or Beijing governments and young people with higher levels of education felt most strongly (2).
According to The Telegraph Newspaper, student movement occurred because, in one hand, they wanted to against a strong control of Hong Kong government. In other hand, they dissatisfied with the gap between rich and poor in Hong Kong and they felt disappointed about their future (5). Hong Kong was rated as one where had the largest gap between rich and poor as well as one of the cities had the highest housing prices in the world. Meanwhile, the salary has not increased in many years. It leads to the dissatisfaction in the middle class and students. Therefore, Hong Kong student movement broke out as a realization of the ideal because young people stand for their rights and they are patient with their purpose. There are many outstanding students, who have good political skill, taking part in the protests. Joshua Wang was arrested three times and had eight charges against him. It was a big pressure not only for leader of student movement but also for other protesters and their families because the risk of going to jail. However, Wong said: “But for a movement to be successful, someone needs to pay the price”, “No one won and no one lost this battle and we still believe that we will win the war” (6).
Student, who is a new generation of protester, has been born. They stand up for their freedom and come to the realisation that freedoms do not come to anyone without struggling. They had to face to the obstruction of police by using tear gas to disperse students protesting. Therefore, protesters used umbrella as a way to protect themselves. Although the Hong Kong government had promised negotiations with the protest leaders to find solution, they have not agreed on any proposed dates to meet (7). Thousands of students came to centre of Hong Kong, wearing black T-shirt and yellow ribbons, and bringing umbrellas to demand for the response of the government.
In “On the Poverty of Student Life”, author shared an idea that “It is not enough for theory to seek its realization in practice; practice must seek its theory”. Realness the uprising of young people against the way of spirit imposed on them is simply a harbinger, a preliminary manifestation of a far more widespread corruption that will embrace all those who are feeling the increasing impossibility of living in this society, a new start to the next revolution era (8). Therefore, the protest of Hong Kong students, though, had a support from media, it did not really success.
Recently, almost protest camps in the capital city have been detained by Hong Kong authorities. However, students said that they would be back. Although they were disappointed, they decided not to give up hope. The protest was peaceful mainly in Hong Kong is one of the most serious challenge to the Chinese authorities.
(1) Watch Mojo, 2014. 10 Hong Kong protest fact. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9hiy9H2dQw [Accessed 18 March 2015].
(2) Agencies in Hong Kong., 2014. Hong Kong students begin democracy protest. The guardian [online], 22 September 2014. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/22/hong-kong-students-democracy-protest [Accessed 19 March 2015].
(3) BBC News China.,2014. Hong Kong protests: They key players [online]. BBC News. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-29408476 [Accessed 19 March 2015].
(4) Campbell, C., 2015. Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong questioned over pro-democracy protests. Time [online], 16 January 2015. Available from: http://time.com/3671211/hong-kong-occupy-central-umbrella-revolution-joshua-wong-students-charged/ [Accessed 19 March 2015].
(5) Phillips, T., 2014. Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement spawns new generation of protester – but can they win?. The Telegraph [online], 13 December 2014. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/hongkong/11291772/Hong-Kongs-Umbrella-Movement-spawns-new-generation-of-protester-but-can-they-ever-win.html [Accessed 19 March 2015].
(6) Carol, W., 2015. Hong Kong student protest leader Joshua Wong: ‘We will win’. Los Angeles Times [online], 25 February 2015. Available from: http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-hong-kong-activist-joshua-wong-20150225-story.html#page=1 [Accessed 19 March 2015].
(7) Huey, F.T., 2014. Hong Kong student “umbrella revolution” movement takes to social media to separate fact from fiction in pro-democracy protests. ABC News [online], 30 September 2014. Available from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-30/feature-social-media-use-in-hong-kong-protests/5780224. [Accessed 19 March 2015].
(8) Knabb, K., 1966. On the Poverty of Student Life Considered in its Economic, Political, Psychological, Sexual, and Especially Intellectual Aspects, with a Modest Proposal for Doing Away With it. Situationist International [online], November 1966. Available from: http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/poverty.html [Accessed 28 April 2015].
Channel 4 News, 2014. Interview with the Hong Kong protest leader. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atG9-sAaVZ4 [Accessed 19 March 2015].
The New York Times, 2014. Hong Kong Protest 2014: The evolution of Joshua Wong. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2nSFBaN2NM [Accessed 18 March 2015].