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Chinese Christians passionately support Hong Kong protesters

Originally posted on Vancouver Sun:

A vigorous debate between Chinese Christians in Canada has been taking place on this blog, The Search, in the last couple of weeks over whether to fully support the Hong Kong protests.

In this installment more than two dozen Chinese Christians with roots in Vancouver passionately stand up for the pro-democracy protesters, who are in the third week of a stand-offwith troops and politicians over their dogged push for free elections in Hong Kong.

Their critical aim is focussed on Jonathan Chan, executive director of the Company of Canadians, an ethnically diverse B.C.-based Christian ministry that counts some of the city’s 100,000 Chinese Christiansamong its members.

(For the record, Chan has never claimed to me to represent the views of all or most Chinese Christians in Vancouver. But, since the writers of the public letter below have made that question a centre of their argument, I will leave…

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Hong Kong has too many poor people to allow direct elections, leader says

Originally posted on Quartz:

HONG KONG—Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement protesters have been demanding that the city’s top official, CY Leung, step down for weeks now. They may soon be joined by many more of the city’s 7 million residents, after a controversial interview last night in which Leung suggested that election reforms sought by the protestors would invite undue influence from the city’s poor.

Speaking at his official residence, a colonial-era mansion set above the city—it’s furnished with crystal chandeliers and guarded by massive stone lions—Leung addressed three foreign newspapers that target Hong Kong’s wealthy international community. Allowing the entire voting population of Hong Kong, some 5 million people, to directly nominate candidates for the city’s top official position would be a mistake, Leung said:

“If it’s entirely a numbers game—numeric representation—then obviously you’d be talking to half the people in Hong Kong [that] earn less than US$1,800 a month. You would end…

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Hong Kong Protest and Social Media: Man Arrested Over Online Messages

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HONG KONG — Gillian Wong reports: A man was arrested on suspicion of posting messages online that urged people to gather and agitate at a protest site, police said Sunday.

“The arrest marks a relatively new tactic in Hong Kong police’s attempts to curb the demonstrations that have paralyzed key sections of the city for weeks.”

The move—one of the first such arrests during three weeks of d”emonstrations here—could potentially chill the protesters’ use of the Internet and social media to mobilize large crowds.

[Follow Pundit Planet's EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Hong Kong Protests]

The Hong Kong Police Force said in a statement on its website that a 23-year-old man had been arrested Saturday on suspicion of “accessing a computer with illegal or dishonest intentions” and illegal assembly.

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A preliminary police investigation revealed the man had posted messages on online discussion boards urging others to go to Mong Kok—one of three main protest sites—to “join an illegal assembly, attack police and paralyze subway lines,” the statement said. The man, who has been released on bail, is separately accused of illegal assembly in Mong Kok, the statement said.

The police declined to give further information about the man or say whether he has retained a lawyer. Attempts by The Wall Street Journal to contact the man have been unsuccessful. Read the rest of this entry »


HK: Dueling Definitions of Democracy

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Rhetoric aside, China has always retained the final say on how the city’s leaders would be chosen. That power was enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, by giving Beijing the right to final interpretations, including on elections.

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Martin Lee, a leading democratic activist and former legislator who sat on the law’s drafting committee.

“There was no doubt in our minds that Beijing was quite prepared to give us democracy or universal suffrage as everybody would understand it to be.”

– Martin Lee

When China and the U.K. began negotiating the transfer of Hong Kong in the early 1980s, both sides spoke optimistically about elections. Promises for future balloting were embedded in documents signed at the time to guide Hong Kong after its return to Chinese control in 1997.

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For WSJ Ned Levin, Charles Hutzler and Jenny Gross: In recent months, arguments over the meaning of those promises have helped to propel increasingly confrontational protests over how the city will choose its next leader in 2017. Beijing says that it has honored its commitment to provide universal suffrage; pro-democracy activists say that China has trampled those promises by insisting that candidates be approved by a committee whose members are largely pro-business and pro-Beijing.

“No one told Hong Kongers when they were assured of universal suffrage that it would not mean being able to choose for whom they could vote.”

Rhetoric aside, China has always retained the final say on how the city’s leaders would be chosen. That power was enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, by giving Beijing the right to final interpretations, including on elections.

“They can interpret white as black, yellow, green or red. And tomorrow, they can interpret back to white,” said Martin Lee, a leading democratic activist and former legislator who sat on the law’s drafting committee. He resigned after China’s bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.

The agreement to return Hong Kong to China was signed by U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang in 1984. During a tense 1982 trip to China, Mrs. Thatcher tripped and stumbled on the steps of the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Clashes in Hong Kong: Cops Mix it Up with Protesters in Tunnel, Streets

Pro-democracy activists clashed with police and barricaded a tunnel near Hong Pro-democracy activists clashed with police and barricaded a tunnel near Hong Kong’s government headquarters overnight on Tuesday, expanding their protest zone again after being cleared out of some other streets in the latest escalation of tensions in a weeks-long political crisis.

[Follow Pundit Planet's EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Hong Kong Protests]

The demonstrators blocked the underpass with tyres, metal and plastic safety barriers and concrete slabs taken from drainage ditches. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Want Your Avoid Having Your South Korean Citizenship Application Rejected? Be Prepared to Prove You Can Sing This Song

Can’t Sing the National Anthem? No Passport For You

Should you have to prove you can sing the national anthem of a country if you want it to make you a citizen?

In the U.S. the answer is no, but in South Korea it’s a clear yes.

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Chinese Woman Denied South Korean Citizenship Because She Couldn’t Sing the National Anthem

That’s what a 52-year-old Chinese woman found out when she failed to pass an interview in November to become Korean.

“At the test, we don’t expect the applicant to sing in perfect tune, but we expect to hear the right lyrics. If the applicant fails at the first try, we give one more chance to sing in thirty minutes or an hour. She failed both.”

According to the Justice Ministry, the woman, known only by her Korean surname Choi, flunked three tests; singing the national anthem, understanding the ideas of free democracy and basic knowledge about South Korea.

Seoul’s education office in August provided a new version of the song in a key two steps lower than the original composition, after complaints were raised that high notes in the song make it difficult for students to sing, particularly boys going through puberty.

Ms. Choi then filed a complaint with the Seoul Administrative Court, which ruled on Sept. 30 that the ministry’s decision was legitimate as it followed due process in a fair and valid way. Read the rest of this entry »


Would You Like Pepper With That? Hong Kong Protesters Return to Mong Kok District

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HONG KONG—Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators swarmed back to a protest site Friday night that police had cleared earlier in the day, clashing with officers yet again on the streets of a city struggling to find a way out of a deepening political crisis.

“Apparently their action has triggered more people to occupy Mong Kok again. It’s totally congested with protesters who are forced by police to block the sidewalks and we couldn’t move at all.”

— Lisa Wan

Crowds swelled in the city’s Mong Kok district, one of Hong Kong’s three main protest sites, chanting “open the way” as police in riot gear linked hands to block people from crossing into the area’s main streets. People who were being held back by officers spilled onto side streets and onto already-packed sidewalks, as crowds shouted and jeered.

[Follow Pundit Planet's EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Hong Kong Protests]

Police used pepper spray on several protesters and detained a number of people, including acclaimed international photojournalist Paula Bronstein. A representative for Getty Images said Ms. Bronstein was on assignment for Getty to shoot the protests in Hong Kong and was awaiting more information.

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Hours earlier, before dawn Friday, protesters voluntarily left the Mong Kok encampment after hundreds of officers descended on the site and ordered the crowds to pack up and leave. Police were able to reopen traffic on one of the major thoroughfares in the area for the first time in days. But later in the morning, protesters started to rebuild their camp, again closing one lane of traffic. Tents re-emerged and trolleys of water and food were carted in as police lined the block and watched.

By Friday evening, thousands of protesters were again trying to fully close the entire street as police struggled to keep them at bay. Traffic was snarled throughout the area, and police tried to move demonstrators out of the way of city buses that had been caught up in the standoff. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Protesters Stage Another ‘Umbrella Marathon’ Run

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Gregor Stuart Hunter reports: For protesters sleeping on the streets of Hong Kong, the past three weeks have at times felt like a marathon. Now, they have a real one. Sort of.

“At a dire time like this, when we’ve been camped out for 19 days, this really helps boost morale.”

On Thursday night, runners returned for the second “Umbrella Marathon” following Sunday’s inaugural event, and named after the symbol of the city’s pro-democracy protests. The route is on downtown roads that are temporarily pedestrianized as a result of the sit-in, and just 2.5 miles compared to a regular marathon’s 26.2-mile slog.

Participants ran waving illuminated mobile phones in the nighttime air and cheered “Hong Kong, Hong Kong” as the students watching from the surrounding tent city broke into applause.

“Running is synonymous with freedom.”

“At a dire time like this, when we’ve been camped out for 19 days, this really helps boost morale,” said Nikki Lau, one of a handful of volunteers who organized the event in a single day after being inspired by a blog post.

The event drew a wide mix of Hong Kong society, including professionals and expatriates who said they had been looking for a role to play in supporting Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong: Love in the Time of Protests


Hong Kong Protests: The Power of Ridicule

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For Hong Kong Protesters, Ridicule Proves an Effective Formula

On the streets of Hong Kong, protesting students have found a novel way to assail their opponents. They sing “Happy Birthday.” As the WSJ’s Andrew Browne writes in this week’s China’s World column:

Lusty choruses of the song—in English—rang out in the working-class neighborhood of Mong Kok last week when thugs descended to try to break up the sit-in demonstrations there. The crowds would engulf a hostile interloper and strike up the melody.

It was musical mockery; the equivalent of the medieval pillory designed to publicly embarrass and humiliate. Read the rest of this entry »


State Department Concerned About Spying at Waldorf Astoria: Investigating Sale to Chinese

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The State Department said it is reviewing the sale of the hotel to Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group, and that it may stop leasing space for the U.S. ambassador to the UN or the General Assembly. Anbang is reportedly linked to China’s Communist Party, which has overseen a massive effort to use cyberspying to steal U.S. trade and military secrets.

The NYDaily News‘  reports: The sale of the Waldorf Astoria to a Chinese insurance giant is really bugging the State Department.

Grand plans by Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group “to restore the property to its historic grandeur” has some Washington diplomatic and security insiders wondering if the Chinese will be adding more than a view to kill for.

Officials said Monday they are reviewing the sale — and implied the glittering renovation scheme for the iconic Park Ave. hotel may mask a nefarious purpose: espionage.

State Department officials said they are reviewing the sale of the famous hotel to a Chinese insurance company with possible ties to the country's Communist Party. JUSTIN LANE/EPA

State Department officials said they are reviewing the sale of the famous hotel to a Chinese insurance company with possible ties to the country’s Communist Party.  JUSTIN LANE/EPA

“We are currently in the process of reviewing the details of the sale and the company’s long-term plans for the facility,” said Kurtis Cooper, a spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

The State Department said it may end a 50-year practice of leasing a residence at the hotel for the U.S. ambassador to the UN.

Evan Vucci/ASSOCIATED PRESSIt remains to be seen if President Obama (with daughters Sasha, left, and Malia) will continue staying at the Waldorf's presidential suite during his trips to New York City.

It remains to be seen if President Obama (with daughters Sasha, left, and Malia) will continue staying at the Waldorf’s presidential suite during his trips to New York City.  Evan Vucci/ASSOCIATED PRESSI

Also at stake is the department’s rental of two floors of the Waldorf during the annual UN General Assembly.

The White House declined to say if President Obama will continue staying at the hotel’s presidential suite during trips to New York. Every commander-in-chief since Herbert Hoover has stayed there. Read the rest of this entry »


Just Happened: Protesters Successfully Hold off Riot Police in Lung Wo Road with Umbrellas, Barricades


EXCLUSIVE: Hong Kong Democracy Demonstrations, Day 17 — The Empire (sort of) Strikes Back (Hong Kong Style)

Starting this morning, Hong Kong police executed an operation to clear street barricades on Queensway Road and other major arteries in Hong Kong.  It’s unclear to me how the clearing has gone in Causeway Bay and on Nathan Road on the Kowloon side. But in the Admiralty district immediately in front of my office, I’ve been taking periodic trips downstairs to see and photograph the police work methodically all morning and into the afternoon to push protesters back out of the road and systematically dismantle and clear the barricades they had built.

I saw NO violence.  The vast majority of the police wore empty holsters — only very senior officers carried their sidearms.  No riot weapons (shotguns, tear gas grenade launchers) were evident, but other riot gear was visible — small clear plastic shields and helmets (although none of the police were wearing helmets).

A few students were standing on the sidelines weeping, while others had pulled back to the barricades that protected the approaches to the main protest site in front of the government offices, a block away.  Police were making no attempt to clear those barriers.  During one phase of the clearing, the police formed a cordon to allow protesters to retrieve their tents and other personal items from the underpass where they’d been camping.

At one key point along Queensway, students were sitting in the streets leading to the main road.  A line of police standing at the edge of Queensway faced off against this group to keep the students from moving back into the main road.  As of now (1:30 PM Hong Kong time) that is the only large group of police still present on the main road.  I suspect this may stay this way to keep the protesters from trying to re-block Queensway.

All of this was done in what I think of as “Hong Kong style:” Compared to anywhere else in the world (including definitely anywhere else in China), everyone was incredibly polite on both sides, there were a minimum of raised voices, and the police force was professional and outright courteous to the protesters and curious passersby and people who work in the area who had to navigate the work of barricade clearing that was underway all along the road. I saw no arrests and have heard of none.  I spoke with one police officer who told me that no arrests were planned.  The entire operation was very well organized and executed in a very efficient manner — typical Hong Kong.

Now the big question is how the pro-democracy demonstrators will react.  Over the last week or so, they have proved themselves to be a largely leaderless movement.  Will they try to move back onto the main roads and block them again?  If they do, I fear they may lose significant popular support — and that the police response might not be so polite next time.

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Police blockade of area where protesters had encamped under a road crossing.

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Police line blocking access to the protester camp under a road crossing on Queensway.

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Police lines blocked access to the blockade-clearing operation.

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Police carried out the clearing operation with precision and . . . politeness.

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After yesterday’s tense confrontation with the “Antis,” the protesters had reinforced their barricades with bamboo fencing. That didn’t last long.

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Police cordon through which protesters retrieved personal items left at their encampment when the clearing operation had begun earlier in the morning.

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Exclusive PunditCam aerial view of police action on Queensway.

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Police line opposite students sitting in access road.

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Police and democracy demonstrators face off at the edge of Queensway.

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By early afternoon, a few umbrellas are all that was left of the protester encampment in front of the Bank of China Tower.

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Students pushed out of the encampment discussing their next steps.

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Demonstrators at one of the barricade sites still surrounding the main protest area in front of the central government office.

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The main protest site was undisturbed.


TRIAD UNLEASHED: Masked Gangsters Lead Assault Against Pro-Democracy Protesters

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HONG KONG –  A mob of masked men opposed to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators led an apparently coordinated assault on the protest zone in the heart of the city’s financial district Monday, tearing down barricades and clashing with police.

[Follow Pundit Planet's EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Hong Kong Protests]

The chaotic scenes came after police carried out a dawn operation to reopen some key roads blocked by protesters for more than 15 days. Police said they will continue to chip away at the occupied zone to relieve traffic, and warned that anyone who challenges them could be arrested.

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“Before the police came, young men wearing masks and dark clothing came to pick fights with people and we heard that some of them had weapons.”

Monday’s confrontations highlighted the growing tension between student-led protesters and authorities — as well as other residents aggravated by the disruptions. The protesters, who had enjoyed widespread support when the movement began, are fighting to keep up momentum as the political crisis entered a third week.

“I don’t know who the young men wearing masks were. We suspect they’re triad members, but it’s hard to say. What other kind of group would organize themselves to come attack us?”

– Kevin Ng, college student

Demonstrators have flooded several thoroughfares in central Hong Kong since Sept. 28 in a civil disobedience movement to oppose restrictions on the first-ever direct election for the semiautonomous Chinese city’s leader, promised by Beijing for 2017.

Leung Chun-ying

Leung Chun-ying

They want authorities to drop a plan to use a pro-Beijing committee to screen candidates, and demand the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, the city’s Beijing-backed leader.

Authorities have repeatedly urged protesters to retreat from the streets, but student leaders have vowed to keep up the disruptions until the government responds to their demands. Read the rest of this entry »


EXCLUSIVE: Hong Kong Democracy Demonstrations Day 16 — The Empire Strikes Back (sort of)

About an hour and half ago a group opposed to the pro-democracy protesters made a concerted attempt to take down the barricades on Queensway Boulevard near where I work.  Hearing the commotion, I headed down and snapped some pics.  After about a tense hour, the “Antis” backed down and left in groups of ten or twelve.

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The “Anti” group heading East on Queensway toward a protester blockade. I’d say there were between 250 and 500 people in this group.

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The “Anti” group was accompanied by a handful of taxis. They chanted “OPEN, OPEN” in Cantonese.

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The police very quickly mustered and formed lines to separate the two groups.

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Looking south, with the “Midlevels” neighborhood (where REALLY rich people — the 0.001% — live in Hong Kong) in the background

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Soon the largest group on the scene were curious people drawn down from the surrounding skyscrapers.

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Police escort a couple of angry “Anti” folks away who had gotten on the protester side of the barricades and tried to pick fights — I personally witnessed their aggressiveness.

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Police lines like this formed very fast to hold strategic roads leading to the site of the confrontation.

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Police movements around the area were very well coordinated, and their fast work averted an ugly fight. I personally observed multiple occasions where individual policemen and policewomen acted very calmly and professionally to defuse small confrontations.

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The average age of the “Anti” people was probably 40 years higher than the pro-democracy protesters. Interestingly, I observed quite a few groups like this of fairly elderly people who seemed to have come together and, in the end left together — accompanied by one or two younger people who seemed to be organizing them.

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More of what I called the “Grey Brigade” that I watched for some time. I was convinced by what I saw that they had come and departed as a group organized by a much smaller number of younger people.


Vintage Japanese Pulp: ‘The Practical Science for Boys & Girls’, November 1949

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‘The Nightingale': Why China Chose a French-Directed Film as Its Oscar Submission

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For WSJLilian Lin and Josh Chin: After decades of failed bids for the best foreign-language film Oscar, China appears to be hoping it can borrow a little of France’s Academy Award magic. Actually, make that a lot.

“It’s a mild, breezy, accessible, feel-good drama which really pictures China as a harmonious, wonderful place where conflicts of various stripes – across age, class or geographical divides – could easily be reconciled.”

In a surprise choice, China’s film authority submitted “The Nightingale,” a Sino-French co-production nightingale-directdirected by French director Philippe Muyl, as its entry in this year’s foreign-language category at the 2015 Academy Awards, state media reported this week.

“It really fits with the Chinese government’s current dominant political narrative of seeking to maintain stability in society at the same time when chaos sweeps across the body politic.”

– Clarence Tsui, The Hollywood Reporter

The Nightingale,” which tells the story of a road trip taken by an old man and his spoiled granddaughter through the southern Chinese countryside, is an adaptation of Muyl’s uplifting 2002 odd-couple drama “The Butterfly,” which was well-received in China despite never being officially released here.

Although the structure of the two films is similar, Mr. Muyl has described the “The Nightingale” as a thoroughly Chinese story. “We originally planned to make a Chinese version of ‘The Butterfly,’ but later we changed our mind and wanted to created something more originally Chinese,” he said in a video promotion for the film.

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In choosing “The Nightingale,” China’s film authorities passed over a number of strong candidates, including period drama “Coming Home” by Zhang Yimou, arguably the country’s most prominent director, and Diao Yinan’s noirish “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” which walked away with the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Kin Cheung: Walking through Tunnels on Barricaded Road in Hong Kong


EXCLUSIVE: Hong Kong Democracy Demonstrations, Day 13 — Comics and Cartoons

The talks between protest leaders and government representatives didn’t happen — the students backed out when they felt the agenda for the first meeting was to be too limited.  They called for a surge in attendance at the main blockaded site in front of the government office last night, and thousands showed up.  Today, I walked down to the site in the early afternoon.  I sensed a relaxed atmosphere among the demonstrators, and more signs that they’re committed to the long haul, including setting up a “study hall” for kids to keep up with the school work they are missing.  Also, both Asian and Western comics and cartoons are making their way into more and more of the new posters that constantly pop up around the site.  Some of the images below are very clever adaptations of the iconography of American comics — something that would give hardliners in Beijing (is there any other kind now?) serious heartache if they got the jokes.

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If (like me) you”re a Marvel comics fan, click this to view the larger version and savour the sheer genius

 


How Social Media Helps–and Hinders–the Protests in Hong Kong


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