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Hong Kong's "Umbrella City"

When I left Hong Kong back in September,  Occupy Central had just begun. I went to Admiralty and Central on the first day of the protests, which was the 28th. The following morning I flew to Taipei.  I was very sad, not only because I was leaving a city which I love more and more each time I return there, but also because I had seen history unfolding before my eyes and yet I was suddenly cut off from those events. While I was sitting on the express train to the airport, I had already made up my mind that I would go back to Hong Kong as soon as possible.  And I was right. What I have seen in Hong Kong over the past few days is amazing, and I feel glad and privileged that I could be part of this historic moment. At least I'll be able to tell my grandchildren that I was here. 

Goodbye, Occupy Central

The Hong Kong police have given the students that have occupied Admiralty an ultimatum: they must leave before 11 am today. Whoever stays will be arrested.  Apparently the students have decided to comply. They are dismantling their tents, saying goodbye to the ' Umbrella City ' they have created. The images of the occupation - a symbol of civil disobedience - will remain in the collective memory, just as those of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement did. The power of those images and ideas is stronger than the short-term failure of the protesters' political objectives.  Rumours had been going around for weeks that the police would soon clear the sites of the protests. On the evening of December 1st I met a friend of mine. I hadn't seen her for a year. We went to a cafe' called Kubrick, in Yau Ma Tei. We talked a lot, and Occupy Central was one of our topics - it seemed impossible not to mention this issue when conversing with a Hongkonger, a proof

7 Reasons Why Hong Kong Is A Great Place To Live

Hong Kong skyline (by Aris Teon) In 2013 I wrote a post about 7 reasons why it's good to live in Taiwan  based on my one-year experience in the country. Now I would like to talk about another place which I love, and which I have perhaps loved more than any other: Hong Kong. When I was growing up in a small town in Southern Italy, I knew very little about Hong Kong. As a child I remember watching the handover ceremony in 1997, yet at that time I did not really understand much about what was going on. That is my first, vague memory of Hong Kong. Years later, when I was in my early twenties, I watched a short documentary about Hong Kong on Italian television. I was captivated by the energy and modernity of that exotic metropolis. I thought that some day I would like to visit it. However, it was not on my list of priorities. I wanted to go to Japan, mainland China, South Korea, far more than I wished to go to Hong Kong. In late 2011 I decided to go to Taiwan bec

Dozens of Mainland Chinese Detained by Police For Supporting Hong Kong's Occupy Central

Since September 28 at least 34 people have been detained and 60 people have been questioned by the police in mainland China for sharing images and news of Hong Kong's Occupy Central or showing support for it. As the " Umbrella Revolution " unfolded in Hong Kong, the Communist government and its media apparatus have been trying to insulate the mainland from the outside world, leading to a sharp increase of censorship activities. According to Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (民生观察), the Hunanese activist Ou Biaofeng (欧彪峰) was arrested on October 1. A squad of Zhuzhou Internal Security Bureau broke open the door of his house while he was still in bed. They questioned him about some pictures he had posted online in which he was seen as shaving his head in support of Occupy Central (the initiators of Occupy Central had shaven their heads at the beginning of September to show their "determination to fight for true democracy"). " Because I shave

Stuck In Macau For One Night

Senado Square On Friday I decided to go to Macau , a city which in my opinion - as I wrote in the past - is one of Asia's most charming travel destinations. I was planning on staying there for just one day, taking a walk in the afternoon and later meeting an old friend of mine, before returning to Hong Kong at around 11 p.m. The original idea was to take a ferry in the morning, but because I slept miserably the previous night I ended up leaving home at 3 p.m. The weather was hot and humid, the sky grey. Around one hour later I arrived at the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. After buying a ticket and going through the immigration control, I joined the unavoidable long queue largely consisting of mainland Chinese tourists: young and old, fancy and sporty, all invariably holding shopping bags with names of fashion or food brands written on them.  Riding a ferry from Hong Kong to Macau may seem like an enjoyable and relaxing experience - to those who ha

Chinese Nationalism and the End of Hong Kong

As the Umbrella Revolution unfolded and thousands of Hong Kong students and activists occupied various streets of the city demanding genuine universal suffrage , the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing and their allies in Hong Kong looked in dismay and astonishment, unable to understand what was happening. They condemned the democracy movement, which they considered an illegal act of subversion aided by foreign forces . Yet they didn't seem to take the true motives behind this popular protest seriously. If they had analysed these motives, they would have soon discovered that there are plenty of reasons why the people of Hong Kong might be dissatisfied with the status quo created by the ' one country, two systems ' model. One of them and, in my opinion, the most important one, lies in the ideologisation of society which the Communist state considers an integral part of its 'socialist' system, and which it is trying to extend to Hong Kong in

My Pictures of Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution

Yesterday I arrived in Hong Kong and, despite being extremely tired - I had slept for only one hour and a half in two days -, after leaving my stuff at the hostel I immediately went to see how Occupy Central had transformed the city centre.  However, I was way too exhausted and hungry to go to Central, so I just had a look at the Causeway Bay site of the protest, which is quite close to where I'm currently staying. The 'Occupiers' have by now settled permanently in some limited areas, one of them being a section of  Hennessy Road , formerly a bustling traffic artery, now turned into a sort of 'encampment' with tens, colourful pictures, collages and posters. Actually, Hennessy Road has never been as beautiful as it is today, and the occupation does not seem to affect shops or normal life. The only thing it has affected is traffic, but, well, does Hong Kong really desperately need more cars and pollution?  The atmosphere is quiet right now, and very lit

Debunking Beijing's Accusations that Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution is Fomented by 'Foreign Forces'

" The Chinese revolution is a key factor in the world situation and its victory is heartily anticipated by the people of every country, especially by the toiling masses of the colonial countries ," said Mao Zedong in a July 1936 interview . " When the Chinese revolution comes into full power, the masses of many colonial countries will follow the example of China and win a similar victory of their own… "  According to Mao, the Communist-led Chinese revolution was part of the " world revolution " directed against " anti-imperialist and anti-feudal " forces ( On New Democracy , January 1940). " Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin " had given the revolutionary avant-garde a weapon. " This weapon is not a machine-gun, but Marxism-Leninism ", he explained ( On the People's Democratic Dictatorship , June 1949).  Faithful to his ideology, Mao not only accepted the help and guidance of the Soviet Union, but he also helped &quo