The WSJ has a big feature today on Hong Kong students and their roles in the protests:
Zack Ho, 18, heads the Hong Kong Student Strike Alliance, which advises high-school students on organizing protest events at schools and how to deal with opposition from teachers and principals.
At his own high school he said he had met resistance from schools officials and push back from mainland Chinese students.
His principal rejected his idea to set up a wall for people to post sticky notes of support for the movement. The principal also told him she won’t allow protest events in school over fears that it would increase tensions with mainland students at the school. The school principal declined to comment.
Mr. Ho found workarounds. While walking between classes, he shouted pro-democracy slogans. In response one day, a mainland Chinese classmate threw a piece of paper with a hammer and sickle drawn on it. “I support the Chinese government. Long live China!” Mr. Ho said the boy shouted.
Lau Pak-ho, a high school junior, said he was cut out of his class photo for boycotting classes in support of protests. The 17-year-old high school junior, said his school issued a notice to parents to warn against students taking part in class boycotts. The school said anyone who took part would be excluded from class photos, said Pak-ho, who boycotted anyway, with around 40 classmates.
The protests pose challenges for teachers as well.
Steve, a high school English teacher, said fears of losing his job prompted him to delete Facebook posts in which he expressed his views supporting the protests. He said he no longer feels comfortable openly discussing current news events in class. Officials at his school, however, have allowed students to chant slogans in favor of protests at school assemblies.
In his homeroom, in which about a third of students are from mainland China, students are divided, he said. When he showed a news clip in class that included protests and a Chinese national flag thrown into a river, some students shouted “dirty cops” while mainland students sat silently.
Concerned that Beijing’s scrutiny of secondary schools might make him a target, Steve changed his Facebook profile name and picture. Click by click, he deleted posts in which he objected to police use of force against protesters and criticisms of China’s ruling party. He unfriended students.
Similar themes in this Bloomberg article:
One 14-year-old student said that he first joined the protests in mid-June after his exams because of his concerns about the extradition bill, which would have allowed Hong Kongers to be tried in courts in China.
His classmates are not as involved, so he often goes alone and keeps abreast of events through social media.
He always keeps his parents informed, he said, only goes to peaceful protests and is home by dinner at about 8pm.
His mother, who was present, confirmed that.
The teenager envisioned no other home for himself other than the Cantonese-speaking territory.
He would stay, he said, until Hong Kong is not the territory he knows — that is until everyone speaks Mandarin, the language of the mainland.
Managing such young protesters also complicates policing.
In response to a request for comment, the Hong Kong police said that they strive to interview children only when a guardian is present. They also “consider each case on its own merits having regards to the individual circumstances” before deciding whether to apply for a care or protection order for minors, the statement said.
The 14-year-old who was shot in the thigh was arrested for taking part in rioting and assaulting a police officer, although he has since been released on bail. His name has not been made public and he could not be reached for this article.
After the incident, Hong Kong police released a statement saying that the officer had fired in self-defense.
Underage protesters can also be split up from their families.
If a court order is granted, they can be sent into foster care for weeks, said Johnny So, a barrister who has represented minors.
Foster-care institutions in Hong Kong often house teenagers with serious family or emotional issues, and some underage protesters are not used to such an environment, he said.
He recalled one of his clients who was sent to such facility for a month.
“She wasn’t happy in there and cried while we visited her. She’s from a normal family, not that type of problem child,” So said.
What will happen? Who knows. I saw this in the Taipei Times.
Although the details of the plan have yet to be worked out, it seems evident that China’s leaders intend to gut the Basic Law, exercise more direct control over the appointment of key officials, weaken or eliminate Hong Kong’s judicial independence, curtail civil liberties and suppress political dissent, including through ideological indoctrination.
In other words, they have effectively decided to abandon the “one country, two systems” model that then-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) promised to uphold for 50 years after Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule in 1997.
China’s leaders must know that they are to run into powerful resistance. While some initial steps would be taken in Beijing, the plan’s most substantive measures require action on the ground in Hong Kong. If the ongoing protests have shown anything, it is that Hong Kongers are not going down without a fight.
In fact, China has tried to get Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to pass national security legislation before, in 2003, but about half a million residents took to the streets to protest, forcing the city government to withdraw the bill.
Likewise, China’s attempt in 2012 to institute “patriotic education” in Hong Kong by changing its history textbooks ignited a rebellion among parents and students, forcing the government to back down.
As the CCP attempts to exert total control over Hong Kong, even larger demonstrations, marked by even more violence, are likely. The city would descend further into chaos and become ungovernable.
However, that might well be what China’s leaders want: an excuse to deploy security forces and impose direct control over the city. In that sense, the fourth plenum might mark the beginning of the end of Hong Kong as we know it.