What began as a student sit-in in Hong Kong has snowballed into an enormous protest as as police responded with tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets. Here’s what you need to know so far. (New York Magazine)
Use our resources to learn more about the Occupy movement and one of China’s “Special administrative regions,” Hong Kong.
- What is “Occupy Central” and why did it begin protesting?
- Occupy Central With Peace and Love (usually shortened to “Occupy Central”) is a part of the international Occupy movement, which protests social and income inequality. Read more about the Occupy movement here. The group takes its name from Hong Kong’s multibillion-dollar financial and government hub, Central.
- Occupy Central and Hong Kong’s student communities began protests to draw attention to China’s new rules for Hong Kong’s first democratic elections, scheduled for 2017. In 1997, China promised Hong Kongers freedom to nominate and elect their top leader, called the “chief executive,” for the first time in history. In July of this year, the Chinese government announced that while Hong Kongers would still be allowed to vote for the chief executive, all candidates would have to be approved by the Chinese government in Beijing. This is a severe restriction to the democratic process—if the authorities in Beijing do not agree with a candidate’s positions, they can simply disapprove and not allow him or her to be a candidate in the first place.
- Occupy Central began their protests ahead of Chinese National Day, the Chinese national holiday, on October 1. The demonstrations are expected to reach their peak then.
- If the 2017 elections were set to be the first in which Hong Kongers would elect the chief executive, who is the chief executive now? How did he get that position?
- Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was elected by a special committee with support from the Chinese government in 2012. Leung has urged the pro-democracy protesters to stop their demonstrations “immediately.” Protesters want Leung to step down immediately.
- Why has the protest movement expanded?
- Hong Kong police have responded very aggressively and even violently to protests. Unlike mainland China, Hong Kongers have a long tradition of living with some form of democracy. Demonstrators are protesting what they interpret as police brutality and adherence to greater control from Beijing.
- Does the pro-democracy movement enjoy widespread support in Hong Kong?
- Not really. Support has grown over the past month, but thousands of Hong Kongers criticize the protests for “endangering” the city by threatening its relationship with Beijing and creating a political climate that is unattractive for foreign investors.
- Why is the media calling this the “Umbrella Revolution”?
- Umbrellas are a common sight in the muggy Hong Kong summer, where pedestrians use them for protection against the sun as well as sudden showers.
- Many protesters have used umbrellas to protect themselves against tear gas and pepper spray. Umbrellas have also been deployed as defensive blockades.
- “Occupy Central” was named after Hong Kong’s busy business district, Central. It has spread to other neighborhoods in Hong Kong, both on Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula to the north. Hong Kong’s excellent mass transit system, the MTR, serves the entire region. Click on the bookmark (Hong Kong MTR) to find the Central metro stop in this map of Hong Kong, then map how the protests have spread.
- Mong Kok (these were huge, confrontational protests)
- Causeway Bay
- Tsim Sha Tsui, nicknamed TST
- Sham Shui Po
- Wong Tai Sin
- Compare your map with the massive disruptions Hong Kong’s transit system is experiencing as a result of the “Umbrella Revolution.”
Here are some other great Q&As about the Umbrella Revolution: