Hong Kong's Student Protesters Want Democracy-At Any Cost; One in Five Hong Kong Residents May Leave Because of Its Poor Political Prospects

By Hewitt, Duncan | Newsweek, October 10, 2014 | Go to article overview

Hong Kong's Student Protesters Want Democracy-At Any Cost; One in Five Hong Kong Residents May Leave Because of Its Poor Political Prospects


Hewitt, Duncan, Newsweek


Byline: Duncan Hewitt

Sitting in a Hong Kong cafe, Oscar Lai looks like many of Hong Kong's young people: slight, bespectacled, with an earnest expression. It's only when he gets up does it become clear he's been doing more than focus on his studies recently: He's walking with a limp and is about to see a doctor about his leg and the scratches on his shoulder, which he reveals by pulling down his T-shirt. "That's where the police grabbed me and pushed me," he says.

Lai, a 20-year-old second-year university student, is one of the co-founders of Hong Kong's Scholarism movement, a grouping of mainly high school students that has played a leading role in the city's pro-democracy protests. He burst through police lines outside the Hong Kong government's headquarters last month to reclaim the city's Civic Square for the people after the government fenced off the former protest site.

The police stopped Lai in his tracks, but some 200 others succeeded, of whom over 70 were arrested, including Scholarism's co-founder Joshua Wong--which led to more protests by tens of thousands of young people the following day. When police used tear gas, the furious public reaction led to the start of a wider campaign of civil disobedience known as Occupy Central.

"We are touched by the students' actions," said Occupy's co-founder Benny Tai, a Hong Kong University professor. "We had to respond to the situation. They have encouraged us to start our own action."

The events have come as a shock to China's leaders, who had hoped that, after 17 years of Chinese rule since the former colony was handed back by the U.K., Hong Kong's young people would have begun to heed their repeated urging to forget foreign influences and begin to "love the motherland." Above all, they hoped to avoid having to put down violently another large-scale pro-democracy protest, as they did in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in June 1989.

Paradoxically, for Lai, as for many of Hong Kong's young people, it was China's attempts to impose a patriotic National Education curriculum on the territory two years ago that helped him find his political voice. It was at that time he and his friends founded Scholarism, leading protests against the curriculum at Civic Square.

"That was the start of the awakening for our generation," he says. "At the start, we were just a handful of teenagers with a shared interest in social issues, but after the protests [which ended with the curriculum being shelved], we felt we didn't want to lose our members, so we turned our concerns to political reform."

Beijing's plan to restrict the long-promised "universal suffrage" for Hong Kong's next leadership election, in 2017, to a vote between "two or three candidates" approved by a committee appointed by Beijing--thus excluding the city's democratic campaigners--has further invigorated the student movement. Now Scholarism has more than 600 members, 80 percent of them still in high school, and many more supporters--and has galvanized the wider society: Traditional Chinese respect for educated young people has come to the fore, as it did in Beijing during the student protests of 1989.

"I really salute these young people," said Joseph Chan, professor of political science, after attending a meeting of University of Hong Kong students about further protests. "They're very courageous and very principled. They are very civil, but they are prepared to risk their safety for what they believe in.

"When I was at university in the late 1970s, only a tiny minority would have taken such action," Chan notes. "At that time, people in Hong Kong still had a refugee mentality [many having fled to the territory from the Communist revolution in mainland China], and were only just beginning to have an identity of their own. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Hong Kong's Student Protesters Want Democracy-At Any Cost; One in Five Hong Kong Residents May Leave Because of Its Poor Political Prospects
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.