Hong Kong has its own way of appealing to the world.
After staging two peaceful demonstrations of over a million Hongkongers within a week, another miracle has taken place in this former British colony. Over USD 641,000 was raised online to publish newspaper ads in Britain, America, Canada, Germany, Japan, and Belgium within hours of the campaign created by a group of Hong Kong netizens. But the world has already been watching Hong Kong since the beginning of June.
1. What is the global movement about?
It was trigged by controversial legislation proposed by the local government earlier this year, which would allow extradition to take place between Hong Kong and mainland China, as well as with other jurisdictions where Hong Kong has no existing agreements.
The Hong Kong government refused to withdraw the legislation after a wave of protests in Hong Kong. Overseas Hongkongers living in Britain, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, America, Canada and many more countries showed their solidarity by staging demonstrations from afar.
Hence, some Hong Kong netizens started crowdfunding a global campaign to call for international support regarding Hong Kong’s diminishing autonomous status, thereby raising the awareness of the world leaders who will take part in the G20 Summit in the Japanese city Osaka later this week.
2. What are their plans?
They have plenty of plans to force the local government to back down. Apart from mobilising online users to shape public opinion on the American online forum Reddit, some of them have written articles in the Financial Times and created online petitions to sanction the involved Hong Kong and Chinese officials who hold British or American citizenship.
While some Hongkongers are gaining grounds virtually to win the hearts of foreigners, others are flying to Osaka to stage a protest to draw the attention of world leaders to the global impact of the anti-extradition law in Hong Kong. So far, Hong Kong protesters have already rallied outside the diplomatic missions of all G20 countries in Hong Kong and submitted their petition letters to the representatives.
3. How do they coordinate among themselves?
Unlike previous movements in Hong Kong, this global movement is leaderless. In a Hong Kongese online forum called “LIHKG”, tens of thousands of online users gather ideas, debate different proposals, and divide into different private working groups for this global movement.
To ensure their mode of communication is secure and encrypted, the working groups tend to use instant messaging application Telegram to coordinate protests, execute plans, and keep each other updated during the protests. Without a centralised platform, the movement has its own life. It is one of the reasons why Hongkongers have been involving this global movement from home to abroad.
4. …but why does Hong Kong matter to the G20 countries anyway?
Hong Kong is a global finance centre, after New York and London. This city comprises more than two-thirds of the world’s largest banking institutions. More importantly, more than 70% of foreign direct investment in China comes from Hong Kong. As the world is eyeing the Chinese market, Hong Kong’s role as the gateway to China is only critical if the “One Country, Two Systems” principle is safeguarded to maintain this city’s autonomy.
While Hong Kong has a population of 7.4 million, there are well over 600,000 Hongkongers living abroad, including 236,000 in America, 205,000 in Canada, 95,000 in Britain and 74,000 in Australia. These Hong Kongese diasporas are closely tied with the economic and cultural exchange between their hosts and Greater China (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and Mainland China). They are the main driving forces to echo the Hongkongers who are fighting at home.
But despite all these efforts, the result of a David versus Goliath might not always end up like a fairy tale.
Iverson NG is a second-year master’s student of EU-Russia Studies at the University of Tartu.