Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests and the ‘umbrella revolution’ explored

As the Hong Kong protestors enter their third week of camping in the streets outside government headquarters, SW Londoner explores the so-called ‘umbrella revolution’.

The protest is an unprecedented anomaly in Hong Kong, governed by communist China, where freedom of association and speech remains restricted.

The protestors themselves are predominately young Hong Kong students who oppose the electoral processes in the country, but the protests have been witnessed by a number of different nationalities.

Renee Davis, from Epsom, an English language assistant at a school in Hong Kong, has been surprised over the involvement of the police, or lack of, during the demonstrations.

Early morning protesters Renee

The 21-year-old said: “The police have been rather uninvolved during the protest, which is surprising. Few protestors, if any, have been moved.

“It has been mainly peaceful until last weekend, when there were clashes between the anti-occupy movement and the protesters. The police oddly came to the aid of the protestors then.”

Since returning to Chinese rule in 1997 the government has been headed by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, an appointment made by a Beijing-based committee of 1,200 officials.

The protest is a collection of groups unhappy with the present system stating it is undemocratic to have a governor who is not elected by the people of Hong Kong.

The umbrellas synonymous with the protest are used as a shield from pepper spray and tear gas as well as giving the movement a collective symbol.

Renee and her fellow language teachers believe the protestors comeplaint is correct and justified.

I completely support the protestors. In fact, I haven’t met any foreigners who oppose them. We have democracy so why shouldn’t they?

“I completely support the protestors. In fact, I haven’t met any foreigners who oppose them. We have democracy so why shouldn’t they?” she said.

“But I sense that some people are getting tired of the protestors, especially before they start causing more havoc with the transport system and affecting the economy detrimentally.”


HK protest Admiralty Station

The protests have already caused bus services to be cancelled and many entrances and exit on the Hong Kong metro system have closed since the protests began.

It remains unclear as to when the protest will finish and Renee believes that the two sides will soon enter into a war of attrition over who steps down first.

“At the moment, nothing will be resolved though. It depends on whether the protestors give up or the government recall the riot police to disperse the masses. I fear it is a lost cause though for the protestors,” she said.

“Many people fear though that the protest could go on for months. The students want to get their voices heard but nobody in the Chinese government seems to care.”

The government have already imposed deadlines on the protestors to vacant the streets but these have been widely ignored.

The demonstration is slowly turning into a game of poker, with neither side willing to show their hand yet.

It comes down what the two sides have at their disposal – the protestors with umbrellas and the hope of change, and the government – with doctrine and riot police behind them.

umbrella rev flickr  Pasu Au Yeung

Featured image courtesy of かがみ~, with thanks
Inset pictures courtesy of Renee Davis, with thanks

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