A Look at the Pro-Democracy Protests in Hong Kong [updated]

The government’s subversive tactics also include infecting the cellphones of demonstrators with malware, suggesting that Apple Daily and Next Magazine owner and Occupy supporter Jimmy Lai (黎智英) has profited from the events, the possible use of triads against the protesters (suspicions trace back to past associations between the government and criminal organizations), and use of agents provacateurs to sway sentiments, instigating fraud and distrust.



Fortunately, countless citizen journalists with social media accounts and video cameras like student Chris Lau serve as watchdogs to document incidents that might be used to discredit the demonstrators.  Students at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong have established fact-checking site VerifiedHK to ensure the accuracy of information being disseminated.  The South China Morning Post has also established a “Rumour Buster” page.

The movement has received much foreign media attention, more in its first day than the entire 24-day Sunflower Movement in Taiwan where the protests are being watched carefully.   One reason for the thorough coverage is because China expelled many foreign journalists earlier in the year.  A group called Translating the Umbrella Movement was created to help foreign journalists with understanding what’s going on in the increasingly non-English speaking city.   These reporters have brought events to people around the world, often in real-time.

Supporters of the protests in the global audience can use the “Stand by You: Add Oil Machine” (並肩上:佔中打氣機 / 并肩上:占中打气机) to send messages of encouragement and solidarity.   Messages are submitted through a website (which has been down at least since Saturday night) and are projected on to walls and displayed on LED screens around the city.

Add Oil Machine



People will sing at an extended protest.  The Wall Street Journal‘s China Real Time blog talks about the movement’s unofficial anthem, “Under a Vast Sky” (海阔天空) by Hong Kong 80s band Beyond.

The translated lyrics can be found over at Hong Wrong which also includes a second popular protest song, a Cantonese version of “Do You Hear the People Sing” from the musical Les Miserables.   The Telegraph has more about this adopted anthem.

Every movement also needs a symbol.  Adopting the umbrellas used to shield demonstrators from police tear gas, the movement has come to be known as the Umbrella Revolution.  The umbrella has inspired art (two echoing Banksy) and attempts at a logo.

A 22-year old student known as Milk created a 12-foot tall sculpture named Umbrella Man, which evoked Tiananmen Square’s Goddess of Democracy.

So potent is this symbol that Paul Zimmerman, a Hong Kong District Councillor, brought a yellow umbrella at an official China National Day reception.  His deliberate position between the audience and the media helped him escape notice in the room but offered exciting images for the media.  Fortunately for the daring Zimmerman, the presence of activist Leung Kwok-hung (梁國雄 / 梁国雄) at the event drew attention away from him.

Paul Zimmerman Yellow Umbrella

Yellow ribbons have also been adopted as a symbol of the movement.  Anti-occupy groups have chosen blue ribbons as their symbol.  But there’s a whole rainbow of ribbons that come full circle.

Political cartoonist 变态辣椒 offered his commentary on the violence inflicted by the anti-Occupy people with ribbons.

Finally, for me, this captures the spirit of Hong Kong and the youth of the movement:


Image: williamli1983 via Flickr, licensed through Creative Commons.  Edited by Andrew Shiue