Hong Kong’s Socioeconomic Divide on the Rise

Lessons from the ‘Redevelopment’ of the Graham Street Market

In 2007, Hong Kong’s Urban Renewal Authority declared the 150-year-old Graham Street Market ‘a slum’ and announced ‘redevelopment’ plans that would replace it with four luxury high-rise office buildings and hotels. This essay analyses the market’s historical function and the actions of concerned civil society organisations vis-a-vis government authorities and urban developers in the battle […]

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Mapping the Affective Neighbourhood in Post-Protest Hong Kong

Looking closely at the changing faces and materials of some pedestrian surfaces, this essay shows the transformation of neighbourhood space and culture in Hong Kong during and after the 2019 protests. By showing the movements and sensual encounters of residents walking through their neighbourhoods, the article reveals the affective everyday encounters or an emergent politics of affect in which the ‘intensities of feeling’—sounds, senses, and other non-verbal dynamics—prevail, so deepening an understanding of authoritarian politics as embodied in everyday life.

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Phantom Sounds, Haunting Images

The Afterlife of Hong Kong’s Visual Protest Culture

Before the enactment of the National Security Law, recordings of and artistic productions about the 2019 prodemocracy movement were thriving on Hong Kong’s streets, university campuses, in social media, the press, and the cultural sphere at large. Now that protests have almost disappeared from public space, and symbols and slogans are criminalised, what happens to the profuse and popular visual culture generated by the protests? This essay revisits the rapidly changing landscape of the visual culture of Hong Kong protests and examines how some of its components have been affected by political developments, leading to a shift in its regime of visibility.

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A Feminist Snap: Has Feminism in Hong Kong Been Defeated?

This essay analyses the politics of the Hong Kong protest movement and the displacement of feminism within it. It highlights the emergence of an internal rift between ‘Left in form, Right in essence’ (形左實右) feminists and ‘Leftard’ (左膠) feminists (those who refuse to move to the Right), which, along with the suppression of dissent within the protest movement, ultimately led to the collapse of Hong Kong feminism.

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A New Chapter for Hong Kong’s Labour Movement?

The optimism triggered by the growth of a more powerful independent labour movement in Hong Kong in 2019 has now been replaced with pessimism about the very survival of such a movement. If one chapter has arguably been closed, what will the next chapter look like for Hong Kong’s labour movement? This essay looks at […]

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The Annihilation of Hong Kong’s Civil Society

Implications and Weaknesses

Since the passage of the National Security Law in July 2020, a relentless purge has been going on in Hong Kong, targeting political opposition parties, large and small trade unions, student associations, nongovernmental organisations, churches and their affiliates, and media. This essay takes stock of the implications of this crackdown for civil society in both Hong Kong and mainland China and looks into the tactics employed by Hong Kong political activists to cope with the changed reality.

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‘Strike Down Hard Resistance and Regulate Soft Resistance’

The Securitisation of Civil Society in Hong Kong

This essay offers a first-hand account of the current crackdown on civil society in Hong Kong. Under the new national security regime, the securitisation of civil society has posed new structural challenges to the organisational sustainability of all types of civil society groups. Facing the risk of criminal liability, organisations had to adapt their strategies and behaviours to a precarious environment and continue to pursue their missions; many have chosen to disband or self-censor. Understanding this terrain is of the utmost importance for navigating through uncharted territory

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The Trouble with Wang Yangming

The revered Confucian Wang Yangming has received much attention in recent years, not only because his compelling life story and philosophy deservedly attract it, but also because President Xi Jinping has openly expressed admiration for him. Building on the foundation of his grassroots popularity and historical and philosophical significance, the government of China has actively encouraged learning from the Ming Dynasty scholar-official. However, the political implications of his tenets and conduct as a Ming official have long been the subject of heated debate, one that remains relevant today. This essay reviews the revival of Yangmingism in China and explores the meaning of it.

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From the ‘Chinese National Character’ Debates of Yesterday to the Anti-China Foreign Policy of Today

Retracing the basic contours of the debates about the ‘Chinese national character’, this essay considers the harkening back to the ‘national character’ discourse of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by many liberal Sinophone dissident scholars in the 1980s and Hong Kong cultural critics in the 2000s as a reaction against decades of class discourse in China. This revival of cultural essentialism has since provided a key ideological register for dissidents, especially those on the frontlines of shaping anti-China foreign policy in the West today, thus limiting the horizon for alternative imaginaries of democratic politics.

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Unfortunate or Convenient? Contextualising China’s Covid-19 Border Restrictions

China’s Covid-19 border control measures have disrupted decades of ever-increasing mobility in and out of China, just at a time of growing uncertainty about China’s relations with much of the outside world. As they persist into 2022, fuelling worries about China’s increasing isolation, it is useful to take stock and look at these policies more […]

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