‘Occupy Central’: Insights from a Hong Kong Student

(Source: Griffiths 2014, IN PICTURES: The highs and lows of Hong Kong’s Occupy protests, accessed: 2/10/2014, http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1607608/pictures-highs-and-lows-hong-kong-protests-20-images)

“No matter how this goes, I am proud to be one of this movement. This utopian atmosphere is purely beautiful and heart-warming. #‎umbrellarevolution‬”
– Hilton, student of ‘Occupy Central’

‘Occupy Central’ is a movement I’ve been drawn to ever since I started seeing posts and yellow ribbons wave my news feed from friends I met on exchange. This quote above comes from my friend, Hilton, a Hong Kong-born Chinese student, who’s been at the protests since Saturday. ‘Occupy Central’ started as a student campaign a year ago but has since gained momentum by social media and public protests, which have united an estimated 100,000 people in a congregation outside Government headquarters. Together they stand for pro-democracy in hope to change the current electorate that only allows 1,200 people to vote (So & Lau 2014). The protestors are seeking a fair and representative election as many of the 1,200 voters are said to have close links to the Central Government of China (Hilton 2014, pers. comm. 3 October).

I’ve been in contact with Hilton over the course of the protests via Facebook and he’s hoping that the demonstrations will see Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying step down. In terms of social media, it has been a leading factor in the coordination, mobilization and dissemination of ‘Occupy Central’. Mitew (2014) describes online communication as dialogic media, an open source where mass involvement and content sharing takes place on various online platforms. ‘Occupy Central’ exemplifies the reach and immediacy of content and an online symbol that’s marking the movement is the changing of profile pictures to a yellow ribbon. The yellow ribbon is a representation signifying a person’s support towards the movement of pro-democracy.

(Source: Griffiths 2014, ‘Global Solidarity with Hong Kong’ rallies planned worldwide as Facebook turns yellow in support of protestors, accessed: 1/10/2014, http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1603935/global-solidarity-hong-kong-rallies-planned-worldwide-facebook-turns)

Hilton (2014, pers. comm. 3 October) informs me that the main social media platform predominately used in Hong Kong is Facebook and that it’s been the most powerful tool in broadcasting the ‘Occupy Central’ movement. He believes it’s more credible and students have been better able to trace sources than other platforms such as Whatsapp, which has been home to rumours and sometimes discouraging information. Unlike the protests in Cairo where the Egyptian government took extreme measures by shutting down the country’s access to the Internet, Hong Kong has not done so (Mitew 2014). Hilton (2014, pers. comm. 3 October) says there were rumours but has seen nothing of the likes.

Dialogic media has been incredibly powerful and has helped give people a newfound voice to rise up (Mitew 2014). The movement in Hong Kong has been dubbed the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ as protestors used umbrellas to shield themselves from pepper spray and tear gas emitted from authorities. There’s also been an outpouring of inspirational support coming from Facebook encouraging the people of ‘Occupy Central’. Courageous images of people covering themselves in makeshift protection such as glad wrap, raincoats, goggles and holding umbrellas is too circling the Internet. Dialogic media has helped show that ‘Occupy Central’ is a non-violent protest, the people are not armed with weapons, only umbrellas for protection. The ‘Umbrella Revolution’ are civilised, peaceful and do not want to fight (Hilton 2014, pers. comm. 3 October). They are taking a very courageous stand for Hong Kong that will be remembered and able to be traced back for years to come via the mass aggregation of online content.

Mitew, T 2014, The social network revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 23 September.

So, P & Lau, C 2014, ‘’The sun rises as usual’: Beijing official’s response to Occupy Central’, South China Morning Post, 2 October, accessed: 2/10/2014, http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1607247/sun-rises-usual-beijing-officials-response-occupy-central


10 thoughts on “‘Occupy Central’: Insights from a Hong Kong Student

  1. You have taken such a fantastic approach to this weeks topic. Truly unique. I loved how you were able to incorporate your friend Hilton’s current experiences to what we have been discussing. Your writing shows that you have definitely thought outside the box compared to others, and that these kinds of protests are happening all the time, all around the world.
    Just something I picked up on during my read, perhaps you could have related the Facebook yellow ribbon picture to slacktivism. I’m sure it helped create awareness, but did it do much really? I also think it would have been very interesting for you to use one of this weeks sources and compare it to Hilton’s experiences, perhaps showing how these kind of events differ between countries.
    Regardless, your post is my favourite I have read this week!

  2. Amazing post. Loved the fact the you have an inside source in the occupy central movement which I have also been following. You did well relating it to this weeks content comparing it to Cairo and explaining the difference. Great post and I hope all goes well for your friend.

  3. Hey, enjoyable post and great use of sources and references. It’s great to see your using personal communication with Hilton as input for this post. I like how you’ve provided various links articles such as Hong Kong’s yellow ribbon movement and how Occupy Central has been dubbed as the umbrella movement. It gave greater depth and background to the post, an overall great coverage on the topic.

  4. Hey Jess, thought I’d have a proper read of this post whilst procrastinating and I’m glad I did! I had no idea the campaign had been going on for a year before the world saw the protests outbreak, your inside source is an inspiration! I wish him all the best in his fight for true democracy.

  5. Great and truly interesting post that you have provided. It ties in well with the weeks topic and the sources and references that you used supported your post very well. I had no idea of the Occupy Central movement and the yellow ribbon before reading your post but now I am glad to have been informed about it.

  6. Great blog post! Thank you for sharing you’re friend’s personal experience along with detailed information. It has furthered my understanding in this area of study, in particular dialogic media. You have also now informed me of the Occupy Central Movement. I wish your friend, Hilton all the best in his campaign for democracy!

  7. This was a fantastic post! I really liked your personal insight on the ‘Occupy Central’ movement, as well as the thoughts and actions of your friend Hilton. I also think it is interesting how Facebook is the being used as the main social media tool to organise the demonstrations. During my brief exchange in China, Facebook was basically non-existent and WeChat was the primary social media app.

  8. Finally! Someone that took a current example and tied it into the week’s topic! Great post, especially using Hong Kong as your source. I am quite surprised that most of the blogs haven’t considered Hong Kong as it is completely relevant right now. I thought it was very smart that you explained the main points of coordination, mobilisation and dissemination in relation to every aspect of Hong Kong’s student revolution. From their online movements to their stylistic appropriations to ensure it is a movement recognised for significant purposes. Great post! It was a joy to read.

  9. Great post, love to see a very current event on a blog, escpecially Hong Kong. It’s pretty cool that you have an inside source to give you a good insight into what is happening over there and how the student revolution is coordinated through social media. The personal thoughts of your friend were really tied in well and help to show the effectiveness of social media in event like this

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