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Political Implications of the Umbrella Movement for Hong Kong’s Anti-Government Protests of 2019

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What commenced in Hong Kong as a series of rallies against a proposal to permit extraditions to mainland China has developed into a most robust challenge to Beijing’s grip on the city. The demonstrations have become the Chinese territory’s worst political nightmare in years, ensnaring Beijing, Washington, local and foreign businesses.

After a summer of unrest in Hong Kong, thousands of protesters are still taking to the streets every week. It all began in June when millions came out to oppose a controversial bill that would have allowed extradition from Hong Kong to China. Though Hong Kong’s leader has formally shelved the bill after three months of increasingly violent protests, the protests have morphed into a campaign for full democracy and an inquiry into the alleged police brutality.

After a summer of unrest in Hong Kong, thousands of protesters are still taking to the streets every week.

History did not happen in a vacuum. Based on a number of onsite surveys with interviews of over 3300 persons of the anti-government protests conducted between Jun 12 and Jul 14, 59% of protesters joined the Umbrella Movement in 2014, and that 22% of their “first experience in social movement” was the Umbrella Movement.

Of no less importance, those who have joined the Umbrella Movement, when compared with those who have not, have expressed stronger readiness to participate in activities promoting universal suffrage, in community initiatives and encourage others to take action about political issues. In the light of the above findings, understanding the causes, dynamics and outcomes of the Umbrella Movement bears an obvious contemporaneous significance.

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Ming Sing’s research interests include comparative study of democracy and democratization, political culture, civil society, quality of life, and Hong Kong politics. He obtained his D.Phil from Oxford University in Sociology and has been the author or editor of four books and over thirty articles. His refereed publications can be found in the Journal of Politics, Journal of Democracy, Democratization, Government and Opposition, Social Indicators Research, among others.  

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