Monday 30 Mar 2020 | 05:40 | SYDNEY
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Hong Kong

Coronavirus and the Hong Kong protest movement

For authorities in both Hong Kong and in Beijing, there must be, in some circles, something of a sense of relief. The pro-democracy protests that defined 2019 had become a deadly hydra that was exhausting the resources and credibility of both governments. The enforced shutdown as a result of the

Beijing’s Hong Kong appointment sends a clear message

Messaging, as anyone knows, is a big part of politics. In Zhongnanhai, the Communist Party headquarters in Beijing, messaging is a form of gospel. A strong storyline, no matter how twisted the truth becomes (e.g., Uighurs and “education camps”), is central to much of what goes on there, and

What lies ahead for Hong Kong in 2020

On the early morning of the first Sunday of 2020, many people in Hong Kong were woken up by a surreal anomaly. They felt that their beds or apartments were shaking. Some thought that they were only dreaming but as heated discussions began to emerge online, what was unimaginable soon became reality:

Best of The Interpreter 2019: Hong Kong protests

Before Hong Kong became a by-word for months of street protests and fears of an ever-growing crackdown, Vivienne Chow reflected earlier this year on the contrasting traditions that stem from heritage and modernity, the quest for wealth versus happiness. Blocking people’s pathway to fortune is

Hong Kong: The people’s voice

On Monday evening in Hong Kong, just hours after the pro-democracy camp made global headlines with a landslide victory in the District Council election, thousands gathered in the shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui East calling for the unconditional release of protesters remaining at the nearby

How China is winning the Hong Kong propaganda war

I have been in touch with “Lee” for a few months now. She is a 20-something Hongkonger heavily involved in the long-running protest movement there, and she has always sounded pretty level-headed and clear in our communications, replying to my queries with long, considered, and helpful answers.

In search of clarity on Hong Kong’s future

Under the constitutional principle of “One Country, Two Systems”, as stated in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, Hong Kong’s capitalist system and way of life would remain unchanged for 50 years after the 1997 handover from British to Chinese rule. As a reassurance, Deng Xiaoping, the

Hong Kong protesters need a narrative – now

As the demonstrations roll on in Hong Kong, the narrative surrounding the protests is as unclear as the tear gas clouds in Causeway Bay. While the visual drama tells a certain story, and the #fivedemandsnoless hashtag gives some clues, it’s difficult for many looking on around the world to discern

China’s own “Great Delusion”

In his 2018 book The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities, international relations scholar John Mearsheimer argues that many of America’s post–cold war foreign policy failures have ultimately been the result of a misguided strategy of a pursuit of “liberal hegemony”, an

Cat videos meet Big Brother

As digital technology and information become more sophisticated, so does the Chinese internet and the ways in which it influences its people’s behaviour. It has established a “closed loop” of state media, homegrown internet companies, and censorship – blocking access to foreign platforms and

Hong Kong: popular protests, live-streamed

On Sunday, more than 1.7 million Hongkongers braved torrential rain for yet another massive and peaceful rally. The astonishing size of the turnout might have caught some people off-guard, especially those who believed that the movement has already lost its public support after violent clashes among

Hong Kong Protest City: Podcast out now

In the latest episode of the Lowy Institute’s new half-hour podcast, Rules Based Audio, I’m talking to Lowy Institute Research Fellow Ben Bland and Hong Kong-based Financial Times journalist Primrose Riordan about the roots of the ongoing political unrest in the city, and where it

Hong Kong’s political trouble is Singapore’s gain

China’s promise to treat Hong Kong as “one country, two systems” has been in the spotlight ever since the controversial extradition bill proposed by the Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam in June resulted in massive protests, not only against the bill but also over Beijing’s meddling in

The deeper malaise in Hong Kong’s civil service

On Saturday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that she would suspend consideration of the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill (“the Bill”). The Bill would have, among other things, allowed mainland Chinese authorities

Hong Kong climbdown eases external pressures on China

Claims by Chinese and Hong Kong officials that the huge protests of the last week were instigated by “foreign forces”, rather than Hong Kongers fighting for their rights, are laughable. However, the Hong Kong government’s decision on Saturday to suspend the hated extradition bill will ease

Why China’s rulers won’t admit they could be wrong

On 2 June, two days before the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, I was in Singapore covering the Shangri-La dialogue, the Asia Pacific region’s biggest security forum, at which Beijing upgraded its representation this year with a delegation led by Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe

Hong Kong: when rich dreams interrupt fortunate life

Kung Hei Fat Choi is the auspicious Cantonese phrase most commonly heard in Hong Kong this week during the Lunar New Year. Kung Hei stands for congratulations, while Fat Choi literally means making a lot of money. The phrase was said to be originated in the Guangdong region during the Self-

How China changed its language on speech

The Heart Eyes Emoji is one of the most commonly used icons in today’s digital communications worldwide. The smiling face with heart-shaped eyes generally means adoration and love towards someone or something. It is not necessarily a romantic gesture, but it shows a level of approval and

Shifting sands in Hong Kong

October is usually one of Hong Kong’s nicest months. The notoriously hot, humid, and rainy summer is gone, and the incoming autumn brings the city a pleasant, warm temperature alongside a stunning clear blue sky. But the usual cheerful vibe has dissipated this year. Not only have&