Dossier: Social movements in Hong Kong

, by  Coline Proy

Since March 2019, Hong Kong has been the site of a series of demonstrations opposing citizens, the local administration and the Chinese mainland state. As elsewhere in the world, these diffuses and composites mobilizations provide differents and sometimes diametrically opposeds analyses.

As part of the program Echanges et Partenariats, an Intercoll volunteer was able to observe the events on site and prepare a dossier containing ten articles in French and English on the subject. In this dossier you will find a summary and a link to the original article.

Hong Kong : la mobilisation continue

Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières

While Carrie Lam recently announced the withdrawal of the extradition bill, this article provides some reminders about the executive in Hong Kong. It would only be a delay and an apparent about-face: the withdrawal has be only just begun, subject to a vote by pro-Beijing elected officials. The article also explains the electoral process in Hong Kong and China’s influence on this system. Finally, four of the demonstrators’ demands are still not met and the announcement is late and insufficient. The mobilization continues despite pressure, arrests, injuries, dismissals, suicides, etc. Europe Solidaire therefore calls for international solidarity, hoping that foreign participation will not be limited to providing the police with repressive equipment.

Chine : derrière les manifestations à Hong Kong

Plateforme altermondialiste

This is an interview with Hong Kong left-wing activists and intellectuals. This article allows the 2019 demonstrations to be reintegrated into a political and economic regime that is unique in the world. This sheds light on the movement in the light of the social and civic struggles of recent years, whether they separate or converge. Moreover, this article highlights the various configurations of the movement, the misunderstandings, the paradoxes, among all the victims of authoritarianism at work and social and economic insecurities. According to the interviewees, we must not distinguish between social struggles and citizen struggles, in a capitalist regime that prides itself on defending freedoms in order to flout them. Finally, this article analyses the place of the left in Hong Kong and its positioning in the protest movement.

Four features of the current situation in Hong Kong

Borderless Hong Kong

This is a Taiwanese article that explains the incursion of the China-controlled Liaison Office into the Hong Kong government. Carrie Lam and her administration are described as puppets, which make them lose all legitimacy with the Hong Kong people. The author explains Hong Kong’s special status by the fact that Beijing wants to collaborate with the Western powers for a time, that of economic development, which is coming to an end. He explains the multiple ramifications of Chinese control at all levels. This seems a little biased at times, but this article describes well the porosity of the institutions - rather than a Hong Kong/China binarity - as well as the particularity of Hong Kong as a place of convergence and presence of conflicting interests that have caused this situation.

Leadership collapses, Hong Kong disintegrates


The current chaos in Hong Kong would be an admission of failure by Beijing. According to the author, the repression is orchestrated by China, which gathers and mobilizes its pawns. The administrations dominated by China would be obsolete, based on an ideology more than on the reality of the Hong Kong people. The dangerous turn of events is described, with violence increasing and riot police given free rein to respond violently. The question arises, particularly for demonstrators: what will they get at the end and at the price of how many of their own?

A Global Path through the Hong Kong Dilemma: Towards a New Internationalism

Made in China

This feature article places the protest movement in a regional and global context. According to the author, the situation is a symptomatic reaction to an unequal global system, and there are equivalents elsewhere in the world. It is therefore an invitation to get out of the antagonism between China and Hong Kong, which is not denied but does not summarize the situation. In addition, it is necessary to exchange with China to move the discussion forward. But this does not seem to be the path taked, with a generalized identity withdrawal, which is expressed in Hong Kong’s liberalist populism and China’s anti-liberal nationalism. In addition, the author is concerned about the polarization of China and the United States around capitalism, and advocates a new internationalism, based on progressivism and listening, which should unite around issues such as the environment, equality, labour law, etc.

Hong Kong in Turnmoil

Made in China

This is the diary of an intellectual who returned to Hong Kong during a very eventful summer. In this subjective dive, she reports on the atmosphere, guides us through the streets of Hong Kong, helps us to decipher the scriptural traces - posters, slogans, suicidal people arrests - and paints a portrait of the demonstrations that are not easily accessible in the press. As observations and testimonies are made, the challenges of the movement are gradually being recalled. It is in fact an activist text by an observer, which nevertheless shows a certain diversity of opinion among her relatives.

Anarchists in the resistance to the extradition bill


This is an interview with a Hong Kong anarchist group. It provides a political analysis of the Hong Kong context, emphasizing that filters and usual words are ineffective in describing what is happening. We find issues such as economic subjection, of which the actors on the ground would not necessarily be aware. It also highlights the similarities with the umbrella movement, although this movement exceeds it in number, speed, technique and modes of action. The militant/spectator ratio has been exploded, and the demonstrators are ready to risk prison. The reading grids are no longer appropriate and it is all the more difficult to set up a discourse, a unifying narrative. The article also deciphers the stakes, prejudices and perception of the left in Hong Kong, as well as the turn to the right in recent years. Finally, the group interviewed considers that the movement is not accompanied by a very sharp political conscience, but seems to admire the scope and effectiveness of the struggle.

Hong Kong ou l’angoisse de la contagion autonomiste


This article recounts the process over a long period of time, and describes Hong Kong’s particularity as part of the identity mosaic within the Chinese world. There is also the question of the self-sufficiency of the Party’s legitimacy, a mirage of a thousand-year-old Chinese nation. To preserve its power, China’s last card in the face of possible claims is nationalism, patriotism. However, Beijing faces the impossibility of establishing a common past and experience among very different populations, inherent in such a vast territory. China is reported to fear a contagion following the demonstrations in Hong Kong.

En Chine, l’impossible débat sur Hong Kong

Le Monde

This article describes the journalistic treatment of the Hong Kong protest movement by the Chinese government and media and the resulting perception of the Chinese population. It seems that the information, after being suppressed, is completely biased: propaganda and fake news are commonplace. The movement is said to be the result of manipulation by foreign forces, senior democrats, and the demonstrators are above all radicals who want independence. In addition, anyone who reports more nuanced information is censored, denigrated or worried, as a traitor to the nation. The nationalism of official discourse is indeed absolutely not hidden, a trend that has become more pronounced in China in recent years.

A Hong Kong, la police face au peuple

Le Monde

This article depicts the tensions between the once-exultted police and the demonstrators. First, he points out that today, the only tool the government is using to manage the crisis, if not compromise, is the police. Police violence has been present since the beginning of the movement, which has itself become more radical. The article denounces the laxity of the police in dealing with the triads, and the laxity of the authorities in dealing with the violence of their subordinates. The mutual misunderstanding and rejection of both sides is growing. Even the population is beginning to resent its own police, for having deviated from its moral code, and they are rejected and denigrated even outside the performance of their duties. The police react viscerally to those they equate with parasites, but not necessarily for their support of China, as Beijing would have us believe. In addition, police corruption is highlighted, and some police officers resign because they no longer recognize themselves in their position.