"Promises to keep: the Basic Law, the 'Umbrella Movement,' and Democratic Reform in Hong Kong" in M Monshipouri (ed), Information Politics, Protests, and Human Rights in the Digital Age
May 2016, Cambridge University Press, pp. 239-266
Abstract: In 2014 Hong Kong youth captured the global imagination in massive protests challenging China’s central government in Beijing over failed promises of democratic reform. Those promises, outlined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, guaranteed Hong Kong all the ingredients of modern constitutionalism, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Under “one country, two systems” there would be fifty years without change (or as Deng Xiaoping said, maybe more), a high degree of autonomy and Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong. The 1990 Hong Kong Basic Law promised democratic reform and the ultimate aim of “universal suffrage.” In the summer of 2013 skeptical Hong Kong democracy activists, under the name “Occupy Central for Love and Peace,” promised to clog Hong Kong’s Central financial district with 10,000 occupying protesters if genuine democracy was not delivered. Instead, in the summer of 2014 Beijing issued a White Paper accusing Hong Kong people of a “confused and lopsided” view and the National People’s Congress Standing Committee issued a decision that turned “universal suffrage” into a Beijing-vetted election. Lead by student activists and the full panoply of tools for modern social movements, hundreds of thousands of protesters occupied the streets. Not a revolution, the social movement that followed demanded compliance with constitutional commitments already made. This chapter considers the demands, evolution and social media of the movement that became known world wide as the “umbrella movement.” Contact the author regarding the chapter.