‘Under a Vast Sky’ (海阔天空) The Story Behind the Hong Kong Protests’ Unofficial Anthem


For Real Time China, Joyu Wang writes: “Under a Vast Sky” (海阔天空), a monster ballad from the early ‘90s by Hong Kong rock band Beyond, has become the unofficial anthem for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.

“It means to destroy the old and establish the new. Even if we are disappointed—we shouldn’t be discouraged–because our world will have a better future eventually.”

The 1993 hit has become the rallying cry for protesters angry over a China ruling that limits political reform in Hong Kong. Nikki Lau, a Hong Kong resident who has participated in the protests for the past three days, said protesters have sung the song nearly 10 times each day.


“We need a song that everyone can sing along to,” Ms. Lau said. “[This song] is part of the collective memory of Hong Kong people.”

Watch a clip of the music video with English subtitles:

The song was written by the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, Wong Ka-kui, to express the singer-songwriter’s disappointment in Hong Kong’s music industry in the 1990s, according to drummer Yip Kwok-ming, who worked with the Canto-pop band. Beyond, which was formed in 1983, are seen by many as Hong Kong’s equivalent to The Beatles because both bands’ songs carry strong political messages.


Mr. Wong once was famously quoted as saying “there’s only the entertainment industry but not a music industry in Hong Kong.” The rock star died after a tragic incident in which he fell off a stage in a Tokyo television studio in 1993.

The band eventually broke up in 2005, but its legacy lives on through recent protests.

“The song is about Ka-kui,” Ms. Lau said, because people are nostalgic for the days when the musician was still alive and they’re longing for “a better time when everything was much simpler.”

Ms. Lau said she and other protesters identify the lyrics.. (read more)


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