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September 28, 2014


Dan Hardie

'The demonstrators demands include the resignation of the Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung and the renegotiation of the whole 2017 process. This, needless to say, is a bit of a tall order.'

I have some (probably stupid) questions. The demonstrators' demands don't seem to have changed, and you're quite sure that Beijing can't give in to them. So what might constitute an acceptable compromise in the eyes of a) Beijing and b) a workable number of the demonstrators? And if there aren't any acceptable compromises around, does this peter out with demonstrators going back to work or university, or is a nastier end likely?


Well things are petering out right now, with the promise of talks about talks. It's notable that Beijing, in the event, did absolutely nothing overt, though there were reports that it's security agents were crawling all over the place last week. So the locals are expected to handle this.

I don't anticipate any change to the nominating committee stitch up, not least because it is just about within the letter of the Basic Law. What I think the HK govt may do is promise to allow a comparative liberal on the ballot in an attempt to split the mainstream pan-democrats from the comparative radicals, which may well work.


An interesting point I saw on twitter: HK is obviously hyper-dense, and everyone has a smartphone (and very often gigabit broadband at home). This creates the possibility for a fast re-mobilisation (roughly what happened last week). People "drifting away" may not mean much if they remain on the alert for a renewed call-out.


quite a bit of old fashioned physical exhaustion seems to be coming into it. But this is certainly interesting in terms of re-mobilisation


Dan Hardie

Cheers, Jamie. Another question: if there isn't a remobilisation, but Beijing offers a liberalish candidate on the ballot, and demonstrators don't find themselves hauled off to jail on, say, tax charges after a decent interval, wouldn't that be fairly close to a win for the demonstrators?


Need to unpack this a bit. The occupy HK people want the whole nomination process to be thrown open (which for one thing, goes against the letter of the Basic Law Article 45). The mainstream pan-democrats don't mind the nominating committee but want ideological vetting dropped, which implies structural changes to the committee. I think the HK govt may agree to let a liberal while keeping the membership and function of the committee the same, but if that goes through it's basically a defeat for the wider pan-democratic movement.

Where it gets interesting is that the existing plan has to be ratified by legco by a 2/3 majority, probably next March, and the various democratic parties have enough seats in legco to veto that. If that happens, the current system stays in place. Offering to perfume the ticket with a liberal is probably the minimum that the HK establishment/Beijing need to do if they want to split off enough waverers among the Dems for the plan to go through.

This is where backlash politics may come into it, because what we have here is a classic reactionary 'common sense' trap. While liberals are arguing that voting is a necessary but not sufficient component of democracy etc etc, the pro-establishment side just shout THOSE LIBERALS ARE VOTING TO STOP YOU HAVING A VOTE over and over again.

That said, this is why the democratic side are avoiding this trap by just calling the whole thing fake democracy and leaving it at that. And polls currently show that a good plurality oppose the current plan. So we're basically into a political attrition phase.


Protestors called back out: http://qz.com/278586/an-end-to-hong-kongs-unrest-is-now-more-distant-than-ever/

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