In a unique take on the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011 and 2012, protests have erupted in Hong Kong in the last few weeks, being touted as ‘Occupy Central with Love and Peace’.
The demonstrators are demanding real democracy for Hong Kong, which is technically a region of communist superpower China.
While Hong Kong has significant autonomy from China’s political and legal systems, and has considerable economic clout on the world stage, they still do not have sovereignty and universal suffrage has not been implemented.
It is these two issues that have driven the mostly peaceful protests in downtown Hong Kong. These protests have been instigated by Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong, and advocated by the now-organised Occupy Central with Love and Peace
Their aim is to pressure the Hong Kong government into “satisf[ying] the international standards in relation to universal suffrage” in the Hong Kong Chief Executive election in 2017 as promised according to the Hong Kong Basic Law Article 45. Should such an electoral system not be achieved, OCLP seeks to fight for equal suffrage in Hong Kong through illegal means, namely the occupation of Central, which OCLP vowed would be non-violent.
The movement has a fight ahead of them. According to a report from the BBC:
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.
The first clearance in Admiralty on 18 November passed off peacefully.
But clashes erupted the following week when the authorities demolished the entire Mong Kok camp.
Student protesters accused the police of violence, and tried to shut down government offices in Admiralty on 1 December, prompting a strong response from the police.
Another injunction has been granted to clear a section of Connaught and Harcourt Roads – the major stronghold of protesters.
So we will see what unfolds in Hong Kong. Can they sustain the assault on the established political system? Will they ever break free from China’s oversight? Time will only tell. In the meantime, I applaud their non-violent approach and watch with bated breath.