#OccupyHongKong (#UmbrellaRevolution)

From the NYTimes:

As the people of Hong Kong gathered over the past week in the city’s central business district staging the biggest pro-democracy protest in a Chinese-controlled area in decades, headlines around the world compared today’s movement to the 1989 student demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

While the authorities have not yet used the brutal force that the Chinese army used to suppress the 1989 protests, observers are concerned about the possibility.

The latest warning coming from Beijing has been especially reminiscent of the 1989 rhetoric, and worryingly so, analysts say. The People’s Daily, a government-controlled newspaper, said the protests are creating “chaos.” “That is a significant term in Chinese Communist Party ideology, suggesting that the situation could threaten the Party’s hold on power, and therefore that decisive action is required,” writes Al Pessin at the Voice of America. Mr. Pessin writes that the same word was used 25 years ago to describe Tiananmen Square.

The memory of Tiananmen and its historical legacy is crucial to today’s “Umbrella Revolution,” named so after the ubiquitous umbrellas that the protesters held to defend themselves from tear gas and pepper spray used by the police. Hong Kong, the only area under Chinese control with freedom of speech, commemorates the massacre with an annual vigil. As Max Fisher writes for Vox, that part of Chinese history has been so heavily censored in mainland China that many in the younger generation had never heard of it. Hong Kongers feel responsible to keep the memory alive, Mr. Fisher says, but they are also scared they could face the same repression…

In a plea for action in The Wall Street Journal, Yang Jianli and Teng Biao, former political prisoners in China, ask the world to prevent Tiananmen from happening again. Mr. Yianli and Mr. Biao ask the Obama administration to put pressure on the Chinese government to allow democratic elections in Hong Kong and “forcefully condemn” violence against demonstrators. “The United States and the international community share the responsibility to prevent another murderous attack on pro-democracy demonstrators,” they write. “While the Tiananmen Square massacre surprised the world, this time the world is on notice.”

11 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Don’t the people of Hong Kong realize there is no point in voting because there is no difference between the parties.

  2. 2

    This is going to end so, so awfully.

  3. 3
    pharniel says:

    Depends. Crushing HK will cause a fair bit of stir. At the very least China is going to really start getting the side eye from everyone else.

    Mostly because of the financial losses.

  4. 4
    Steeplejack says:

    [. . .] Yang Jianli and Teng Biao, former political prisoners in China, ask the world to prevent Tiananmen from happening again. Mr. Yianli and Mr. Biao ask the Obama administration [. . .].

    Copyediting is dead at the Times. Chinese surnames comes first, so that should be “Mr. Yang and Mr. Teng,” and they go from “Jianli” to “Yianli” in the very next sentence.

    Yes, this is trivial in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a sign of the dry rot that sets in when you start hollowing out the editorial operation. Copy editors also edit for content, and when you have fewer editors with less experience the end product suffers.

  5. 5
    maya says:

    I’m confused. Was Mary Poppins protesting for or against the nanny state?

  6. 6
    Amir Khalid says:

    It’s not just Chinese names. Remember Rahinah Ibrahim, the Malaysian academic who sued the DHS over her no-fly listing? The New York Times kept calling her as Dr Ibrahim, her patronymic, in subsequent mentions, even though it knows to call Anwar Ibrahim (not related) Mr. Anwar and not Mr. Ibrahim.

    As I recall, the NYT’s house style book does provide the proper guidance on such matters; but like you said such mistakes end up in published copy because copyediting is seen by the beancounterati at corporate as not adding value.

    The Japanese, whose surnames also precede their given name, have learned to work around this same issue by reversing this order in Western languages. So have some Chinese people, like the film director Lee Ang.

  7. 7
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I wonder if that’s part of the reason so many people from Chinese-speaking areas (especially Taiwan) adopt Western first names for doing business here — makes it easier for us silly USians to figure out what their surname is.

    (One of G’s co-workers, who immigrated from Taiwan years ago, even had a Western first name for the kitten she adopted from us — she called her Lan-Lan at home but referred to her as Olive with us, which was the name we had given the kitten. It seemed to amuse all of us.)

  8. 8
    pluky says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: I so very much wish I disagreed with you.

  9. 9
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Here’s something funny. When you write a check to “Occupy Central“, its Web site says you actually have to write the check to something called “Hong Kong Democratic Development Network“.

    Well, that’s kind of shady. So I did some checking and it turns out that’s a shell organization that’s founded and run by someone on the Executive Council of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, a man by the name of Chu Yiu-ming.

    Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor has a name that makes it sound like they’re associated with Human Rights Watch, and that’s intentionally designed to mislead, because while Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International attempt to maintain at least a veneer of independence, Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor is substantially funded by the U.S. State Department through its quasi-nonprofit arm, the National Endowment for Democracy.

    So, while some of the grievances being voiced by the protestors are no doubt legitimate, the policy organization guiding the Hong Kong protests is funded by the U.S. State Department through an organization it uses to advance anti-Chinese propaganda. Kind of makes you think . . .

  10. 10
    AA+ Bonds says:

    By the way, the method that the United States government is apparently using to hijack the leadership of the protests in Hong Kong is the same method that previously netted us Ahmed Chalabi, “Curveball” and the yellowcake lie about Saddam Hussein’s mythical nuclear weapons program. They’re not changing it up much – I guess they think that the American public has already forgotten how we were lied into war in Iraq. I hope that’s not the case.

  11. 11
    Arclite says:

    I don’t think that the Chinese could get away with a Tianenman Square style action in this day and age.

    1. They lied to the attacking army that there was an armed rebellion, so the army attacked the protesters with an appropriate response, killing 1000s. The Chinese gov’t has much less control over communication and media these days, so the army would know the demonstrations were peaceful before they went in.

    2. There’s no way to prevent 100s of people from filming the massacre that would occur in HK. This was not the case in Tianenmen, where they were effectively able to enforce a media blackout, so the world never saw vids of the 1000s horrifically crushed beneath the treads of tanks.

    3. Tianenmen Square is in the middle of China, so the gov’t had its choice of armies to request to deal with the problem. Hong Kong is an island in the far south, which provides unique logistical problems. People would know far in advance if the army was coming.

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