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The Rendon Group Snapshot Report
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Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement begins to unravel
A police officer raises his baton at a group of pro-democracy protesters at Tamar, near the government headquarters in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong
Photo: Dale de la Rey, Agence France-Presse
This week’s snapshot focuses on the current state of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. The protesters are calling for the right to vote for chief executive candidates who are nominated by the public, and not vetted by Beijing as per a decision handed down by the National People’s Congress in August. The leaders of the Occupy Central With Love and Peace movement last week tried to get the participants to end their protest to no avail.
News Summary of events during the week of 01DEC-07DEC
Sample of Twitter handles regarding increased instability and state repression in Egypt
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the current state of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement
Clay Chandler, Hong Kong-based writer, Fortune Asia, Hong Kong
“In one sense, Hong Kong’s mainland overseers emerged as victors from the turbulence of the last two months; they reasserted central government authority over Hong Kong without yielding to demands for a more democratic electoral process. But, if nothing else, the protests highlighted Hong Kong residents’ growing disaffection with the coterie of local tycoons Beijing has relied on to manage this city since it was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Can Beijing count on those tycoons in years to come?”
– As Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution folds, what’s next for Asia’s World City?,
Michael DeGolyer, Professor of Political and International Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
“I would argue [the protest] was a much greater threat than Tiananmen. The danger was that all of China would see [Xi] as weak.”
– Hong Kong’s waning protest may be a hollow victory for Beijing, The Globe and Mail, 05DEC14
Minxin Pei, Professor of Government, Claremont McKenna College, California
“Real concessions would not only require Beijing to allow more democracy but also set a historic precedent: a pro-democracy movement forcing the Communist party into retreat. But if Beijing opts for a harsh crackdown, such repression – as it has before – will almost certainly revive public support for the demonstrators, leading to more protest and public outcry against the authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing.”
– Hong Kong’s stand-off is heading for a showdown – and Xi’s future is at stake,
Financial Times, 02DEC14
Richard Wong, Professor in Political Economy, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
“Liberal democracy and populist democracy differ primarily in their conception of liberty. In a liberal democracy, liberty is freedom from constraint in one’s activities, especially constraint by government. In a populist democracy, liberty is the realisation of the “general will” through participation in democratic political processes. As the student-led Occupy Central pro-democracy protests continue to reverberate around Hong Kong, it is worth analysing the brand of democracy that would best suit the city.”
– Why populist democracy is wrong for Hong Kong, South China Morning Post, 02DEC14
Yeung Chee Kong, Professor in School of Journalism and Communication, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
“The root cause of the protests is a political impasse…If it’s not sorted out, and the government still hopes to do a crackdown by the police, it won’t be an ultimate solution as protesters will resort to other demonstrations.”
– Hong Kong Police Are Lone Protest Enforcers With Silence From Government, Wall Street Journal, 01DEC14
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the current state of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement
1. The unresolved Hong Kong question for Beijing
Media: Financial Times
Date: 01 December 2014
The re-emergence of student demonstrations on the streets of Hong Kong testifies to the continuing tension over the territory’s political arrangements.
Until a few days ago, the authorities in Beijing might have consoled themselves with the thought that the unrest was subsiding. But such illusions will have been dispelled by Sunday night’s running clashes, which saw student activists blocking streets and trying to storm government buildings. The situation in Hong Kong remains febrile with plenty at stake for the territory’s people and the Chinese government.
2. For Hong Kong Protesters, a Spark to Keep Alive
Media: The New York Times
Byline: Michael Forsythe and Chris Buckley
Date: 01 December 2014
HONG KONG — Manni Ng has stayed with Hong Kong’s protest movement from the start, boycotting her classes, sleeping in a tent on a city street, even cleaning up garbage. But after an attempt by the demonstrators to surround the city government complex failed over the weekend, she is wondering how to continue.
Ms. Ng, like many of the student protesters here, will soon have to tell her parents about her involvement, something she has been avoiding because of their opposition to the movement.
3. Hong Kong protests: What’s changed?
Date: 03 December 2014
Since the street occupations began in September in three key spots – Mong Kok, Admiralty and Causeway Bay – the authorities have largely tolerated protesters.
But the High Court began granting injunctions to businesses and industry groups to clear roads in November, triggering a round of clearances by bailiffs and the police.
4. Hong Kong Protests Divide Along Generations
Media: Wall Street Journal
Byline: Isabella Steger
Date: 03 December 2014
HONG KONG—A day after urging student protesters to abandon their street occupation, to no avail, the founders of the prodemocracy group Occupy Central With Love and Peace attempted to surrender to police, who declined to arrest them.
Occupy co-founders Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-Ming tried to turn themselves in at a police station on Wednesday afternoon, along with several other pro-democracy figures, including Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, and some lawmakers.
5. A Frail Face Becomes a Defiant Focus of Hong Kong’s Waning Protest Movement
Media: New York Times
Byline: CHRIS BUCKLEY and ALAN WONG
Date: 05 December 2014
HONG KONG — A spindly, stooped teenager in a blue windbreaker shuffled from a tent on the edge of Hong Kong’s main remaining protest camp. Dozens of onlookers applauded, shouted to him or just stared. Cameras snapped and journalists leaned in to catch his soft voice.
The teenager, Joshua Wong, who embodied the hopes of the city’s pro-democracy street movement in its headiest days, has become the exhausted yet defiant focus of what looks to many like the movement’s final throes.
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