At the Baffler website, Hong Kong–born writer Jaime Chu offers a glimpse of what life in the semi-autonomous territory has been like since massive protests began this summer. The demonstrations, which initially opposed a new extradition bill introduced by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam (since withdrawn), have turned into almost weekly marches against police repression and China’s curtailing of the territory’s relative independence. As Chu writes, the protests, which show no sign of stopping, have been accompanied by a strange mixture of exhillitation and hopelessness. It’s hard to see what kind of concessions Hong Kong’s government could offer to stop them, just as it’s hard to see Beijing ever allowing the territory true independece. Check out an excerpt from the piece below.
If at the beginning of the crisis in Hong Kong, three months ago, it was hard for some to imagine how a supposedly democratic conclave within authoritarian China and the pride of imperial capitalists everywhere would soon become the undeclared police state it now is, it’s an even bigger challenge to imagine how the political crisis might be resolved without a dramatic redefinition of the relationship between the semi-autonomous territory and Beijing’s dictatorial central government. The movement—the revolution, the rebellion, the resistance, the terrorism, the uprising, whatever it is called, depending on who you ask—started as a protest against an extradition bill that, if passed, would have left the door open to compromising Hong Kong’s judicial independence from mainland China’s opaque legal system, in turn accelerating the collapse of the former British colony’s administrative autonomy and the personal freedom of its citizens. The bill had refreshed in everyone’s mind protests against controversial high-speed railway construction in 2009, ill-founded electoral “reform” by Beijing that failed to deliver universal suffrage as promised and triggered the Umbrella Movement in 2014, and the abduction of five liberal local booksellers by the Chinese government in 2015.
Image of Hong Kong protests via NY Times.