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Cyber-assault on Hong Kong Umbrella Movement

9 Mar

Here’s a striking graphical account of the cyber-spying and online attacks activists faced during Hong Kong’s Umbrella movement last year. It also describes how news about the HK protests was first blacked out then altered in the mainland. This is from January but better late than never.


Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement overview

17 Oct

For the past month, Hong Kong has experienced an incredible street movement that sprung up to demand open candidacy for the 2017 chief executive election. It started with a week-long student boycott and protest, then continued into a public occupation that took place in several key sites including outside the main government offices. It captured the world’s attention and admiration and China’s disdain and heavyhanded censorship, but more importantly it seems to have forced Hong Kongers to think deeply about their society and its problems. The movement seems to have decreased in the past few days with HK’s chief stating his administration will meet with the protesters, though the latest controversy involved police brutality earlier this week. The protesters, many of whom are university students, may not be victorious in getting what they wanted in the short term, but they have proved an inspiration to many and shown that a new generation of HKers do care a lot about society rather than shopping.

Here are a few key links to help you understand the protests and some interesting aspects.

The BBC covered the protests quite well, providing a lot of indepth reporting and analysis.  Actually they covered it so well that they were blocked in China just this week, while Instagram was blocked from the very beginning of the protests. On the mainland, the HK protests were first ignored, then censored, and finally covered but in a very slanted way. In addition, mainlanders who expressed support for the protests were also arrested and detained.

Political reform and full democracy are widely known to be the main stated goal of the protesters, but the problems with Hong Kong lie beyond politics and this article provides a very good take on the property curse that afflicts HK. Home prices have skyrocketed, while good jobs are inadequate and the economy has not diversified enough, meaning that many young HKers see a dismal future, one that is reinforced by the current political system where business and property tycoons have enormous influence.

The protests became famous worldwide, helped by the use of a popular symbol – the humble umbrella. As a result, the protests have been termed the Umbrella Movement or Revolution (the latter I don’t quite agree with).

While the main sites were led by students outside the HK government offices in Admiralty, protesters in Mongkok, a working class district in Kowloon, created their own feisty protest zone, one which involved a more diverse mix of people than the Admiralty site.

A lot of Western media, politicians and observers showed support for HK protesters, but so did Taiwan where members of the public and even the president himself spoke out about democracy. This cross-strait support is not surprising in a general context, as ties have grown between young activists who detest and fear China’s government and its increasing influence. For many Taiwanese who cherish their democracy and abhor the mainland’s system, it was natural to support and be sympathetic towards HKers striving for democracy as well in the face of mainland opposition.

Hong Kong’s democracy putdown from Beijing

5 Sep

Hong Kong pro-democracy activists suffered a big blow this week when the central government not only refused to grant open candidacies for the 2017 chief executive election, but tightened the nomination process to run, in effect restricting the electoral process rather than granting any freedoms. Now, to run for the chief executive post (HK’s top official), a candidate must obtain approval from half of an electoral committee, which is higher than previous elections, albeit this election will be the first one regular Hong Kongers can vote in.
This has caused leading figures including leaders of Occupy Central, a movement that threatens civil action such as occupying the Central business district, to ponder their next move, such as if they’ll be able to take the next step and really take action. Beijing was rather bold about its uncompromising decision, even making some wacky claims that limiting democracy is essential to protect the wealthy.

Hong Kong now faces some hard questions because Beijing has made its stance clear. Hong Kong has some stark issues, including on the economic end though this might seem very dire – a report that claims Hong Kong might become a “second-tier” city by 2022 as it becomes overtaken by multiple mainland cities in terms of GDP. As it is, there is much, much more to a city than just GDP and that same article lists them- “The city boasts superb infrastructure, a well-established legal system, and a cosmopolitan culture that no mainland city, including Beijing or Shanghai, has yet been able to replicate.

Beijing a top 10 city

28 Apr

Beijing, despite its horrendous smog, has become one of the top 10 global cities, moving to no. 8 on a city ranking list done by a consultancy firm. Shanghai is in 18th place while Hong Kong is number 5 (Taipei is no. 40). Beijing’s political clout is obvious, and a growing number of  “international schools, museums, and broadband subscribers” have helped it rise.

HK’s crazy slum

1 Apr

Seemingly out of some dark dystopian futuristic movie, the Walled City in Hong Kong’s Kowloon was a crazy place. It was so crazy it was completely demolished in the mid-90s and turned into a public park and garden where a small museum and piece of rubble commemorate it. Some say it was a giant slum, while others say it was a great community; either way, it’s better that it doesn’t stand anymore. The park is attractive, with a large garden, traditional pavilions, and a lotus pond, though the museum, which features a 19th century Chinese official hall, seems a bit small and inadequate for remembering the Walled City. which housed over 30,000 people.


Life of a HK TV actress

13 Feb

Sorry for the long lag. It’s about time something gets posted especially now that Spring Festival has passed.

Here’s a BBC profile of a Hong Kong TV actress. Nobody too famous, but she’s accomplished and it’s fairly interesting, especially the timing of the filming- doing day scenes at night and night scenes at day etc. I don’t know too much about HK shows since I don’t watch, but I do know that unlike North American shows, they’re usually just one season and run five days a week or so during the season. That’s quite grueling for the actors and actresses and crew, which the actress (Luvin!) stresses in the article.

Highway at the top of the world, and HK’s most diverse building

24 Dec

The Atlantic has a decent story about the Karakhoram highway which links China and Pakistan, and is the intersection of three of the world’s highest mountain ranges – Himalayas, Hindu Kush and the Karakhoram. Focusing mostly on Pakistan, it’s about the development and the places along the highway, which have seen some violence in recent years, but which might bring on economic growth for Pakistan, mainly due to increased trade with China.

Hong Kong’s notorious Chungking Mansion seems to have become respectable. The large sprawling building located near the southern tip of Kowloon features cheap hotel rooms and businesses, mostly frequented by people from the third world which means it’s one of the most diverse places in Hong Kong. It’s not a place where many local HKers go to, but this seems to be changing. The BBC seems to be a little late to this story, since I’ve seen a number of Chungking Mansion stories in recent years.

Hong Kong v Taiwan

8 Nov

Hong Kong versus Taiwan – see this interesting matchup here through a series of drawings by a Taiwanese artist living in Hong Kong. It’s kind of funny, kind of fascinating, and kind of untrue. In general, Hong Kong people appear to be more individualistic and blunt while Taiwan is more collective and polite, which is not surprising. HK is also portrayed to be softer than Taiwan, such as in dealing with typhoons. Taiwan does get affected by stronger and more frequent typhoons but it can’t be ignored that if things are really bad, typhoon holidays are often announced, sometimes even in the middle of a workday. It’s definitely true that people in Taipei walk slow and casually, even in the subway which was annoying. About the arguments on subways, I’ve never seen something like that in Taipei, especially blunt and in-your-face arguments or fights. On the other hand, I can only speak for Taipei as I’ve never lived elsewhere in Taiwan. Maybe down south in Kaohsiung things get more rowdier sometimes.

Hong Kong’s identity issue

18 Oct

Anti-mainland feelings in Hong Kong has been growing in the past few years, leading some to try to arouse a more Hong Kong-centered identity. The Atlantic has a very detailel article about this “crisis.” It’s no secret that many Hong Kongers have a range of grievances against mainland Chinese, including tourists, pregnant women, wealthy home purchasers, and even university students. As a result, several movements and campaigns have formed or have gotten involved, which the article proves very useful information about. One such group is the one that runs the annual Tiananmen commemoration march. This latter group has a pro-country/pro-Chinese, anti-Communist party stance, but other Hong Kong groups have a more localized vision where they seemingly reject any association with China. It’s also interesting to learn that a large number of young people have an anti-mainland attitude, and it’s not a good sign. One big issue is that harboring strong anti-China views, besides ignoring reality in that Hong Kong is a part of China, allows people to conveniently blame many problems on China and its government, whilst foresaking personal responsibility on Hong Kong’s part. At the end though, the writer mentions the idea of loyalty to one’s nation not just because of ethnicity but to constitutional values- “constitutional patriotism,” as defined by Jurgen Hagermas. This is relevant and China’s leaders have recognized this issue and are trying to deal with this by promoting the “Chinese dream,” (as represented in part by those posters I mentioned in my previous post) which however is more centered on tradition and culture. I don’t fully believe that patriotism needs to rely on constitutional values, but at the same time, a nation should not rely on blind loyalty from its people.

Golden Week concerns, and HK humiliation

9 Oct

China’s “Golden Week” just ended on Sunday and it seems I didn’t miss out on much. It seems that staying in or going overseas were better choices, because many of those who traveled around the country during this annual holiday week to mark the national day experienced a lot of “challenges.” This has raised a lot of concerns, so much that cancelling Golden Week and allowing employees paid leave, which they can take anytime, has been proposed. That would be a good idea, since it’d allow for more flexibility for both employers and employees, and spread travel and spending throughout the year as opposed to one week with enormous crowds everywhere.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong shows that it can be quirky if it wants. It’s a fact that ladies can be tough and intimidating, as opposed to being dainty, but this Cantonese-speaking female (as opposed to Mandarin) takes it to another level, giving her “man” a public beating, with him on his knees no less.