As Hong Kong’s summer of discontent passes its tenth week of street protests, analysts agree on one key point: this is the biggest political crisis the city has seen since its reversion from British colony to Chinese Special Administrative Region in 1997.
On March 27, 2017, the leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong turned themselves in to the police. The group included founders of the movement—Benny Tai, a professor; Chan Kin-man, a sociologist; and Chu Yiu-ming, a pastor—as well as other student leaders, lawmakers, and politicians.
Now that China’s National People’s Congress has voted – 2,958 to two – to abolish presidential term limits, Xi Jinping could rule China indefinitely, rather than completing a tenure of two five-year terms in 2023. To what degree is Xi set to become the all-powerful ruler many observers predict?
The first time I saw Ai Weiwei’s art, I was appalled. Almost twenty years ago, long before he became an internationally-known contemporary artist, one of my Chinese-language classmates at Qinghua University brought me to Ai’s studio on the outskirts of Beijing.
Read more at: https://chinachannel.org/2017/10/20/exhibition-as-theater/.
The newspaper headlines that have bracketed my summer trip to Hong Kong have been dark. In mid-July the city, once a British colony and now a Chinese Special Administrative Region, was mourning Liu Xiaobo, a political prisoner and Nobel Laureate who died of cancer under custody.
In the past, Cultural Revolution culture has been easy to dismiss. Despite Western fascination will objects that we might call “Mao kitsch”—buttons, statues, and posters—and Chinese nostalgia for Cultural Revolution music or plays, we have written off these cultural products as “just propaganda,” or not really culture at all.
When we teach the Cultural Revolution here in the United States, our textbook version is that Chairman Mao, fearing “revisionism” within his own Communist Party, launched an attack on perceived internal enemies. Our students tend to be most fascinated with the Red Guards, young people who Mao called on to “make revolution” by joining him in an attack on the old world.
This year, the 43rd annual Hong Kong Arts Festival commissioned a chamber opera in three acts called Datong: The Chinese Utopia. Depicting the life and times of Kang Youwei (1858-1927), a philosopher and reformer of China’s last Qing dynasty, it premiered in the theater of the Hong Kong City Hall.
A week ago today I sat together with you outside the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s library, a teacher among other teachers, a university member beside students, 13,000 strong. The weeks before had felt quiet.
Last week at Hong Kong’s Chinese University, a crowd gathered around a replica of the statue Goddess of Democracy. Beneath hand-lettered banners calling on fellow students to “shoulder their historic mission,” several generations of student union presidents discussed a proposal to boycott classes. Read more at: https://www.thenation.com/article/what-hong-kongs-occupy-movement-can-learn-history/.
In between memory and forgetting, there is commemoration. Twenty-five years ago this month, a protest in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square ended in tragedy. As historical event, the contours of the Tiananmen student movement have long since entered textbooks in the West.
Last Saturday, April 26, marked the official opening of Hong Kong’s June 4th Museum, the world’s first permanent exhibition on the 1989 Tiananmen student movement. On the eve of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the pro-democracy protests and Beijing’s brutal crackdown, the museum—sponsored by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements—opened with another kind of protest on its doorstep.