In extraordinary scenes that could have been a direct replay of 2014’s Occupy Central protests, thousands of anti-government protesters surrounded the Hong Kong government offices and Legislative Council building at Admiralty today, blocking roads and forcing the government to postpone a planned meeting to debate a controversial proposed extradition law.
Again, as in 2014, today’s protesters were primarily youths, clad in black t-shirts and chanting “Cit Wui!” (“Withdraw!”). Drawing on their experience from the Umbrella Movement, protesters quickly equipped themselves with protective gear – face masks, goggles, hard-hats – in anticipation of police batons, capsicum spray, or even tear gas and rubber bullets. Police formed three-deep defensive lines equipped with riot shields, truncheons and guns. By mid-morning, protester supply stations – well-stocked with water, foodstuffs, first-aid supplies and other necessities – were already springing up.
Unlike in 2014, the protesters have two advantages which may increase their chances of success. Then, they were trying to push the government to adopt a “genuinely democratic” means of electing the territory’s chief executive – although specifically which model of genuine democracy the protesters could not quite seem to agree upon. This time, their request is simple: they want the government to drop a proposed new extradition law. And it is truism in politics that it is easier to oppose than propose. [Continue reading…]