It’s Now or Never: Lessons On Protest from Hong Kong (Interchange on WFHB)

AUDIO LINK: It’s Now or Never

Today’s show is a discussion of how seven million ordinary people are standing against the most powerful surveillance state on planet earth. Episode producer Sean Milligan talks to two activists who spent time in Hong Kong during the height of the protests in the summer of 2019. Facing eventual reunification with mainland China, the citizens of Hong Kong took to the streets in unprecedented numbers to assert their legal and political rights against encroachment by the Chinese Communist Party. A story that would have been the realm of science fiction only a decade ago – as technology and human ingenuity merge in ever more complicated ways in Hong Kong, we see the future tactics of both governments and resistance movements evolving before our eyes.

The protesters have enumerated five demands:

The movement cascaded onward, adopting the demands unfurled from the rooftop and reviving the major aim of 2014’s Umbrella Movement: universal suffrage. Adding the popular demand for police accountability, this consolidated the movement around five core points: 1) the complete, formal withdrawal of the extradition bill, 2) the retraction of the characterization of protests as “riots”, 3) the immediate release of all arrestees from the movement, 4) an independent investigation into the brutality committed by the Hong Kong Police Force, and 5) universal suffrage for Hong Kong.

Today’s show is in two main parts.

Part One
The continual erosion of the “One Country, Two Systems” constitutional principle prompted this most recent and ongoing protest in June 2019. What are the circumstances on the ground as the protests have evolved throughout the Summer and into Fall. Protesters, noting the failure of the 2014 Umbrella Movement tactics of occupying space, shifted to a tactic of “instant” mobility which they call “Be Water.”

Part Two
Where do we go from here? We begin with the Sesame Credit System which one of our guests calls an intense modulation of peoples’ consciousness and appears strikingly to resemble something from a Philip K. Dick novel. Through social media companies like TikTok the Chinese Communist Government deepens its capacity to apply facial recognition software to identify, track, and suppress, all aspects of human social activity.

We learn of technologies utilized on the street like lasers that disrupt police advances as well as those that destroy surveillance cameras. And we hear about apps used to share information to organize huge numbers of anonymous protesters who have never met each other but see themselves in one another.

A common expression among the protesters is “One day we’ll be able to meet each other face to face without our masks on.”

Interview recorded on 10/22/19.

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MUSIC
“Right Now!” Jackie McLean
“Be Water” Kendrick Scott
“Friends & Neighbors” Ornette Coleman

CREDITS
Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Episode Producer: Sean Milligan
Executive Producer: Jar Turner

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