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Hong Kong and the Umbrella Revolution

CGP experts discuss democracy movement and Beijing´s response on Global Matters

News from Oct 27, 2014

During the last weeks, tens of thousands took part in demonstrations, demanding – in different ways and forms – more democracy. The protests – labeled by some as “umbrella revolution” - were set in motion when China’s National People’s Congress announced that candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 chief executive elections would have to be approved by a Beijing-controlled committee; this, according to the protesters, contradicts the principle of universal suffrage that was established in the handover agreement in 1997. More recently some of the protest leaders became more daring and called for “self-determination” and “independence”.

This week on Global Matters, our International Relations experts discuss the current situation in Hong Kong. Peter T. Y. Cheung, Associate Professor at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong, believes that the protest movement in Hong Kong will “paradoxically invite even more intervention from Beijing into Hong Kong’s domestic governance as it thinks the political situation is growing out of control and detrimental to China’s own state security and political stability.”

His colleague, Ian Holliday, Professor of Political Science at The University of Hong Kong, thinks that the risks are that Hong Kong will be damaged both internally and externally. Internally, Holliday argues, the society is likely to become still more polarized, and violence could erupt more frequently. “Externally, there is a strong chance that relations with Beijing, and also with the wider Mainland society, will sour considerably. After so many years of acting nice, maybe it’s time to act nasty.”

The Dean of the School of Political Science at MGIMO University in Moscow, Alexei Voskressenski, takes another perspective. He looks at what Beijing might have to lose from the conflict and argues that Hong Kong is “a Litmus test for Taiwan”. “If no compromise is found, China probably will never reunite and the Chinese dream will never be accomplished”, Voskressenski concludes.

Please join the debate here.

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