Venues of Counter-Hegemonic Visuality; Days of Contention

  • Daniel GarrettEmail author


This chapter introduces and describes how, as the arguable center of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s protest culture and tradition, Hong Kong, and especially Hong Kong Island, contains a number of venues where demonstrations, rallies, and protests are prepared, deployed from, or held. The chapter, and the associated repertoire of images, begins the visual exploration of how the city has been visually re-imagined, transformed, and utilized by its subalterns to reproduce their aspirations and demands for greater democracy and social justice while subversively contesting and resisting hegemonic pressures to accept mainland Chinese cultural, economic, and political domination. The co-optation by anti-hegemonic Hongkongers of key cultural, economic, social, and political venues within the city during its many demonstrations, processions, rallies, and protests can be seen as visual resistance and as an effort to create a rich countervisuality by giving “voice to the visual.” Similarly, the conflation of special days (January 1st, May 4th, June 4th, July 1st, October 1st) with identifiable protests in Hong Kong—“Days of Contention”—suggest a similar impetus.


Chief Executive Urban Park Falun Gong Arguable Center Foreign Domestic Worker 
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This chapter introduces and describes how, as the arguable center of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s protest culture and tradition, Hong Kong, and especially Hong Kong Island, contains a number of venues where demonstrations, rallies, and protests are prepared, deployed from, or held. The chapter, and the associated repertoire of images, begins the visual exploration of how the city has been visually re-imagined, transformed, and utilized by its subalterns to reproduce their aspirations and demands for greater democracy and social justice while subversively contesting and resisting hegemonic pressures to accept mainland Chinese cultural, economic, and political domination. The co-optation by anti-hegemonic Hongkongers of key cultural, economic, social, and political venues within the city during its many demonstrations, processions, rallies, and protests can be seen as visual resistance and as an effort to create a rich countervisuality by giving “voice to the visual.” Similarly, the conflation of special days (January 1st, May 4th, June 4th, July 1st, October 1st) with identifiable protests in Hong Kong—“Days of Contention”—suggest a similar impetus.

Perhaps the most important site for a politics of memory in Hong Kong is Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. This multi-purpose public space has no particular history of its own, but as the location of the annual June 4th memorial rallies it becomes a site for remembrance of one of the most difficult and contested events of recent Chinese history (Clarke (2007).

4.1 City of Protests (Fig. 4.1)

Fig. 4.1

Hong Kong nativist display provocative banner and flags during 2013 July and 1st March

As the inarguable center of Hong Kong’s protest culture and tradition, Hong Kong Island contains a number of venues where demonstrations, rallies, and protests are prepared, deployed from, or staged at the Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Central, and Western. Of these, Causeway Bay has special significance as the origin and site of Hong Kong’s two most famous annual political rituals (4 June and 1 July.) Within this area there are several streets and locations that are typically usurped from their normal entertainment or shopping functions to become sites of political and social justice claims. This includes East Point Road, Patterson Street Pedestrian area, Times Square, and Victoria Park.

Southorn Playground, located next to the Wan Chai Mass Transit Rail (MTR) station, is another important origin and destination point for many assemblies. And, though only briefly discussed in this chapter, the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention center (the Center) in Wan Chai and Golden Bauhinia Square (the Square) attached to it on Victoria Harbor have special political significance (Clarke 2007) as well as serves as sites of protest as they are seen by some subalterns emblematic of the Hong Kong SAR (HKSAR) instead of Hong Kong. The Center is where the ceremonies for Hong Kong’s return to China were held in 1997 and its chief executives are sworn in to office by China. The Square is also the location of the SAR formal flag rising and SAR Day celebrations on the first of each July. China’s national holidays are also celebrated at the Square with flag raising ceremonies. A variety of large government forums related to Hong Kong’s relationship to the mainland are also hosted at the Center by senior Chinese government officials and senior leaders. In 2012 it was the location of days-long major protests over the installation of the new chief executive by China’s President Hu Jintao. As an iconic resource of the local and national hegemons, this space during the special days and events becomes “activated” in the political rhetoric of “one country, two systems” and has an increased subaltern interest as a counter-hegemonic site of visual contention and disruption. Situated at a short distance from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) barracks and the new central government offices in admiralty, the area will probably increase in importance as a protest site in the future given the growing contestations between Hongkongers and their local and central governments.

Sites of relevance in Hong Kong’s Central District include, Charter Garden, Statute Square, the former Legislative Council (LegCo) Building, and the former central government offices (both, as of late 2011, have been moved to new locations at Tamar in Admiralty). Similar to Causeway Bay, Charter Garden Road, adjacent to an urban park, is a frequent staging point for marches to either the central government offices or China’s Liaison Office in Western.

Located in Hong Kong’s Western District since 2001, China’s Liaison Office is the main target of dissent in the district though some SAR offices located elsewhere in the district have also been the focus of demonstrations before. It has a distinct architecture, towers over the surrounding buildings, and is often depicted in counter-hegemonic visuals as a symbol of an alien ‘Other.’ (Figs. 4.2 and 4.3) The office is responsible for executing United Front programs in Hong Kong to win over the populace and is involved in “promoting economic, cultural and education exchanges, and cooperation” as well as soliciting the opinions of Hongkongers to facilitate mutual understanding and trust (Yao 2011). Since 2010 the Liaison Office has become one of the primary counter-hegemonic targets of the radical pro-democracy wing. In addition, many rallies are held in front of the Liaison Office to demand the release of mainland Chinese dissidents.

Fig. 4.2

China’s Liaison Office in the Western district, 2013

Fig. 4.3

China’s Liaison Office in the Western district seen from Victoria Harbor, 2013

While not on Hong Kong Island, the Mongkok district on the Kowloon peninsula is one of the densest areas in the world and may be emerging as a new locus of counter-hegemonic resistance. The Mongkok Pedestrian Area located next to the subway is a bustling and highly congested entertainment, retail, and shopping Mecca. According to SAR government figures, at peak pedestrian flow on Sai Yeung Choi Street South—where many smaller counter-hegemonic demonstration, signature campaigns, or rallying activities are staged—approaches 20,000 pedestrians an hour (Transport Department n.d.). See Chap.  2 for a brief discussion on how Mongkok and other locations outside of Hong Kong Island have also become venues of contention as the political and social situation deteriorates.

A short description of the more important venues and short photographic essays presenting a depiction of various protests, their messages, and their participants follows.

4.2 Causeway Bay

Causeway Bay is a popular shopping and nightlife destination on Hong Kong Island. The area hosts the “third-most expensive retail precinct in the world” (Li 2011) and is at the intersection of several major traffic corridors for the Island. According to a 2008 study, peak pedestrian in some of its busiest locations ranges from 15,000 to 18,000 pedestrians per hour (AECOM Asia Co. Ltd. 2008); one of these locations (near Sogo Department store) is a critical mobilization and protest transit point and the other (Times Square) is commonly used static protest site. Causeway Bay accommodates many of Hong Kong’s largest assembles and demonstrations as well as is the origin for processions destined for elsewhere on the Island.

Located adjacent to the Causeway Bay’s subway station, Victoria Park—the Island’s largest park—is the home of the annual commemorations of the 4 June massacre and is the staging location for the annual 1 July ‘democracy march.1 Other major protests staging form the Park include protests on Labor Day (May 1st) and China National Day (October 1st) as further detailed later in this Chapter. Many other cultural, commercial, and sporting events are held at this location too. Some of them, such as the annual Lunar New Year festival, may also include stalls or stations with counter-hegemonic political purposes. During 2013s festival, for instance, several anti- and pro-regime organizations conducted fund raising activities, displayed political effigies, and various political materials were displayed and sold.

The pedestrian area of East Point Road located immediately adjacent to the MTR Causeway Bay station is another staging areas used for many of the processions that start in Causeway Bay en route to the SAR Government headquarters or Liaison Office. The protest route from Causeway Bay to these destinations follows the Hennessey Road, one of the major traffic arteries of the city. Running parallel to much of the route is Hong Kong’s famous century-plus old tram network where riders on the double-decker streetcars can often be seen cramming the windows, busily snapping photographs, and taking videos of the marchers, as the trams moves along the Eastern to Western tracks. Occasionally, protesters also hold signs out from the tram windows to show solidarity with the demonstrators (Figs. 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7 and 4.8).

Fig. 4.4

Pre-June 4th street performance and fund raising art sales in Causeway Bay, June 2013

Fig. 4.5

Pre-June 4th street performance and fund raising art sales in Causeway Bay, June 2013

Fig. 4.6

Pre-June 4th street performance and fund raising art sales in Causeway Bay, June 2013

Fig. 4.7

Pre-June 4th street performance and fund raising art sales in Causeway Bay, June 2013

Fig. 4.8

Pre-June 4th street performance and fund raising art sales in Causeway Bay, June 2013

4.2.1 Patterson Street Pedestrian Zone

Located minutes away from Victoria Park and the MTR, the Patterson Street Pedestrian Zone is sandwiched between two major thoroughfares in Causeway Bay and is another small staging area. This short but wide rectangular passage connects different areas of the mega shopping compound and is frequently used for commercial, social justice, and political exhibitions, public forums, and as a staging point for smaller processions. Chinese and Western holiday performances, civil society fund raisers, and commercial exhibitions also occur in this space. (Figs. 4.9, 4.10 and 4.11)

Fig. 4.9

Participants supporting an international anti-victim blaming and shaming movement for victims of sexual assault (SlutWalk) prepare in the Patterson Street pedestrian area in Causeway Bay for a procession to Southorn Playground in Wanchai, November 2011

Fig. 4.10

SlutWalk supporters prepare for inaugural anti-sexual violence victim blaming and shaming procession

Fig. 4.11

SlutWalk participants create placards for the procession, November 2011

4.2.2 Times Square

Located about a 10-min walk from Patterson Street, Times Square is another popular tourist, shopping and entertainment destination, and an occasional site for public displays, forums, and rallies. Sporting a jumbo television wall on its exterior, it is a frequent meeting point for locals and tourists much as how Roppongi Crossing is in Tokyo. A local icon, it has served as the SAR’s New Year countdown spectacle for nearly 20 years. Local holidays such as Lunar New Year are also celebrated with various indoor and outdoor performances such as lion or dragon dancing. Western holidays such as Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day are equally represented and commercialized. Year-round a variety of exhibitions—artistic, commercial, and governmental—are held in its atrium and piazza. It is common to see heroic-sized displays promoting movies, theme parks, and other idols of conspicuous consumption.

From time to time, this shrine of Hong Kong conspicuous consumption is successfully co-opted by different social and political activists and organizations to advance the dominated masses’ interests and contest dominant narratives. This includes holding events such as candlelight vigils, hunger strikes, and public forums. The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, as an example, has synchronized protest activities to coincide with important national and cultural holidays like China’s October 1st National Day celebrations (also an official, local holiday) and the Mid-Autumn Festival (Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China 2009). These events occur in the public spaces of the complex but are immediately adjacent to the entrances of the shopping mall and outdoor exhibitions promoted by the company managing the mall.

However, both corporate and governmental powers have made it increasingly more difficult for political or social justice activities to take place in the Times Square. Since 2008, the complex has been the target of disputes over its use of public space for commercial purposes (Chui 2008; Lee 2008). In 2010, for instance, a pre-June 4th rally in the Times Square piazza featured a large replica of the Goddess of Democracy that was subsequently confiscated by the Hong Kong police; reportedly over to “safety” concerns raised by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department2. Activists arrested in the incident were prosecuted and found guilty under a Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance because they did not have a license to display the statue; this was the first time ever that the Ordinance had been used to squelch political speech. (Chiu 2011a) The statute had been displayed in prior years without incident. (LegCo 2010, p 10662)

According to media accounts, the Times Square management had refused to allow the exhibition claiming, “We rejected the application because we wanted to keep the place politically neutral so we did not want any political activities taking place there.” (Chiu 2011b) The manager’s statement is a bit ironic in that the SAR Government has hosted a number of exhibits there that conceptually fall under the category of national/patriotic education which is an inherently political and controversial issue in the SAR—as was vividly demonstrated in 2012 by the months-long anti-Moral and National Education (MNE) movement. Further incidents regarding the public display of the Goddess of Democracy at several Hong Kong universities transpired shortly thereafter including one institution that announced “a ban on the permanent display” of the statue (Ching 2010). The incident was subsequently cited in Amnesty International’s 2011 annual China report under freedom of expression, association, and assembly incidents (Amnesty International 2011). The Government’s efforts in confiscating the replica and attempting to justify its actions were said to have led to a boost in attendance at that year’s candlelight vigil (Chueng and Fung 2010) (Figs. 4.12, 4.13, 4.14, 4.15, 4.16, 4.17 and 4.18).

Fig. 4.12

June 4th memorial displays at Times Square, June 2013

Fig. 4.13

June 4th memorial displays at Times Square, June 2013

Fig. 4.14

June 4th memorial displays at Times Square, June 2013

Fig. 4.15

International Women’s Day public meeting, Times Square, March 2013

Fig. 4.16

Activist priest Father Franco Mello sings a solidary song at International Women’s Day observance, Times Square

Fig. 4.17

League of Social Democrats activist Faning Monisor Yim speaks at International Women’s Day observance in Times Square

Fig. 4.18

Committee for a Worker’s International China Division activist Vincent Kolo plays a ballad during International Women’s Day observance

4.2.3 Victoria Park

Victoria Park is the largest of Hong Kong Island’s urban five parks. It is 19 ha in size and encompasses a variety of recreational facilities and large open spaces. Though the park is frequently mentioned in news reports and books as the site of Hong Kong’s two major political rituals and its political importance3 has been long noted, scholarship on Victoria Park and its larger importance within the political space of the SAR and as a site of resistance is scant (Chiu and Lui 2000; Clarke 2007). Typically, passing references to the urban green space are background for other sociological phenomena such as convergence of, and usage by, thousands of foreign domestic workers (FDW) in Hong Kong (Koh 2007). In fact, emerging evidence appears to suggest that the HKSAR Government specifically wants to avoid the association of the park with “protests”, even when they are not oriented toward demands for democracy or criticism of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). For instance, the director of Hong Kong’s Pride Parade claimed the SAR Government’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department which oversees the SAR’s urban parks reportedly “told her the application [to use the park to host the LGBT event] was rejected because it did not want the park to be known as a meeting point for parades or protests”(Cheng 2011). Such an attempt to “disappear” or render “invisible” cultural, social, and political significance of Victoria Park as a space of subaltern resistance toward the local and central governments is not unprecedented and implicitly invokes the culture and politics of disappearance described by Abbas (1997)

Besides Abbas’ account, David Clarke recounted in 2007 how the Chinese and SAR governments constructed a new space free of colonial legacies to host the historic and heavily symbolic return of the territory to China: “The ceremony marking Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty took place in the Extension to the Convention and Exhibition Centre, in Wanchai. This structure was built on land reclaimed from the harbor for the purpose, and the handover ceremony was the very first occasion the building was used. Consequently it was possible for the beginning of the post-colonial era in Hong Kong to be marked at a site with no colonial associations, … All memory was deliberately absent in this site, enabling it to function as a locus for forward-looking national meanings that had no previous point of purchase in Hong Kong space” (Clarke 2007, p 361). Clarke also argues, with good reason, that Victoria Park maybe “the most important site for a politics of memory in Hong Kong” due to its hosting of the annual 4 June candlelight vigils remembering the fallen in Tiananmen. It is, he writes, “a site for remembrance of one of the most difficult and contested events of recent Chinese history” (Clarke 2007, p 364). June 4th (Fig. 4.19)

Fig. 4.19

A singing student’s June 4th badge replicating the famous “Tank Man” image, 2013

June 4, 2012 in Causeway Bay evokes the epitome of this dense, hyper, and intense city. Venturing out of the subway at Exit E for Victoria Park—the site of the annual candlelight vigil commemorating the death of student protestors in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989—one plunges into a well of humanity and political angst. The sidewalk seethes with residents and tourists and the one-way car lane in front of the exit heading towards Victoria Park turns into a pedestrian thoroughfare ringed with Hong Kong’s mainstream and radical pan-democratic political parties fund raising: selling bags, political magazines, t-shirts, stickers, pins, and distributing flyers mostly filled with calls for the Chinese Communist Party to revisit its declaration that the student protestors were leading a counter-revolutionary movement. Mixed with these demands is a cornucopia of local political and social justice issues. One party offers T-shirts depicting the chief executive elect as a sly wolf; others have a huge proletarian worker crushing Hong Kong’s tycoons and colluding government officials for bleeding the residents dry; the Tiananmen Mothers and the ‘Tank man of Tiananmen’ are other iconic visuals on display.

Entering the torrent, one is quickly swept downstream toward the bright lights in the Park. Whole streets and sidewalks leading from the MTR to Victoria Park become swollen rivers of people. Police attempts at keeping spectators off of the roadways become increasingly futile until they finally give in, and even more people flow toward the Park as the once empty space is quickly filled. As the stream dumps into the Park they are channeled into smaller gullets where they are buffeted by even more organizations carrying out fundraising in a carnivalesque-like atmosphere. Though a somber and serious commemoration, the crowd was lively and eager to show its respect and declared its demands for vindication and justice for the deceased, those still persecuted, and those still exiled nearly a quarter of a century later.

As one enters Victoria Park from the Causeway Bay entrance, assemblies of political and social groups’ stands must be navigated. Many of some 40 organizations came together with the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) to organize and support the vigil line at the Park’s foyer to the memorial destination. Barking hawkers on stepladders with bright orbs of light silhouetting them throw constantly shifting shadows with disco-like intensity. Once inside the soccer pitches where the main ceremonies are held, paper holders and candles, and song lyrics are handed out. As speeches, audiovisual testimonies, and singing unfold, lighted candles are held up in unison. JumboTron screens help those situated far from the stage to see the videos and speakers. Sound trucks nearby boom out tributes and demands for justice and vindication. An expanse of six soccer pitches and other large overflow areas in the Park are totally covered with some 180,000 mourners and supporters.

The transformation of Victoria Park into a site of resistance begins before the 4th. Banners are hung. Tents and stages are erected. A replica Goddess of Democracy4 and wreaths are placed. Volunteers begin making the hundreds of thousands of white paper holders that commemorators would use to hold the candles for the vigil. Talks and activist performances are held for youth and the public. Tiananmen survivors give talks. Pre-candle light vigil rallies and processions are staged and launched from the Park. People and organizations begin camping out the night before to guarantee good vantage points. On the day of the event, the banners and stage are waiting. Large sections of the six soccer pitches are roped off to section off the tens of thousands that will come in the evening. Hours before the vigil, as early as mid-day, many political parties and NGOs like Amnesty International have already set-up booths just inside the entrances to Victoria Park and to the vigil site.

Throughout the preparations for the candlelight vigil residents and tourists traverse the commemorative site. Many stop to look or read the huge banners and placards placed on the retaining walls of the soccer pitches. Information placards describe the motivations and aspirations of the student demonstrators and some list the fallen students. Graphic photographs of broken bodies, crushed bicycles, and burnt out military and other vehicles are displayed. The iconic image of the “Tank Man of Tiananmen” is prominent as a symbol of visual resistance on many posters; it graces numerous flyers, many t-shirts, and protest props. Of those who stop and read the material, some take photographs or videos of the signs and photographs. Many Mainland tourists “accidentally” encounter the literature and symbolic camp of resistance in the normal course of traversing or using the park. For some it’s the first time they’ve heard of the incident as it is not taught in Chinese schools or universities.

Please refer to the photo essay at the end of this chapter for a visualization of June 4th candlelight vigil and the days preceding it. Because there are so many “June 4th” remembrance activities occurring in Hong Kong and throughout the month, this pictorial assembly obviously makes no claims to represent the full essence, vitality, or visuality of this solemn political ritual. July 1st (Fig. 4.20)

Fig. 4.20

A large pro-democracy political banner warning “Hong Kong at Risk” at the entrance to Victoria Park during the 2012 July 1st rally and procession

July 1st 2003 is widely seen as a watershed in the post-Handover-era. On that day some 500,000 Hongkongers took to the streets adorned in black T-shirts and other ebony attire to express their rejection of proposed anti-subversive national security legislation known as Article 23 (of the Basic Law).5 “Article 23 … is one of the most controversial provisions in Hong Kong’s constitution”, and can be said to “embody the tension that is inherent in the ‘one country, two systems’ model that governs Hong Kong’s relationship with the Mainland” (Petersen 2005, p 1). Dealing with sedition, subversion, secession, and treason against the communist state, the law was inserted into the Basic Law by Chinese authorities at the last minute in 1989 after a million Hongkongers supported the student movement in Beijing by taking to the streets themselves, sending aid to those protesting in the Square, and then abetting the escape of many student leaders and followers following the events of June 3rd and 4th.

Passed in 1990, the Basic Law requires the HKSAR government to enact national security legislation protecting the Chinese State after becoming a Special Administrative Region. No deadline for passing the legislation was established. Shortly after the HKSAR was found, the Asian financial crisis severely affected the territory followed by other sundry crises including the severe acute repository syndrome (SARS) outbreak in early-2003—all of which delayed the introduction of the legislation. Following the SARS crisis the SAR government introduced the legislation and prepared to debate and vote on it, but was forced by the massive demonstration that shocked and unnerved the local and central governments to indefinitely table it. Since then innumerable articles, commentaries, books, and editorials have been published on the protest and its aftermath. After the Macau SAR passed its own Article 23 legislation in 2009, the reintroduction of the legislation by the Chinese and SAR governments has been feared.

For all intents and purposes, Article 23 is the third-rail of Hong Kong politics and continues to induce apprehension in many in Hong Kong. Counter-visual claims routinely take the number 23 and “X” or otherwise desecrated it in visual protest material and political literature and communications. The dread over the legislation has led to verbal and visual signs of “Article 23” being inscribed on other legislation—such as proposed copyright ordinance amendments which might criminalize visual dissent (e.g., parodies, satires, spoofs, etc.). Called by Hong Kong’s dissidents the “Online Article 23” they perceive a notable amount of counter-hegemonic protest materials that would fall within its purview. This has given rise to collective actions in new civil society such as the Facebook group, the concern group of rights of derivative works. Significantly, many visual artists active in counter-hegemonic practices in Hong Kong participate or support the group.

The 2003 July 1st protest and the anti-national security legislation movement (which was later co-opted and/or converged by the democracy movement) is seen by many as having forced the Chinese authorities to change their Hong Kong policy and become more interventionist in local affairs (Lo 2008; Loh 2010; Sing and Tang 2012; Cheng 2005). Lee and Chan (2011, p xv) claim its effect was even wider: “it led to a new political dynamics between the political elites, the media, movement activists, and society, which explained the formation and evolution of the pro-democracy protest in subsequent years.”; They further observe that the implications of the event “are still in the making” as rallies and procession have been held ever since. Some consider the turnout of the event to be an indicator of the health and strength of the local pro-democracy movement and the movement’s death has been announced several times by myriad regime officials and their clients after disappointing turnouts. Conversely, when there are large or huge turnouts as there were in 2012 and 2013, the regime tends to dispute and mitigate protester counts. As such, an ascendency in use of images of massive numbers of protesters in the streets as visual claims are evident whether it be the June 4th, July 1st, October 1st, the anti-MNE, or plain old “chief executive step-down!” protests.

Concomitantly, with the turn to more confrontational politics and protest strategies after 2010 and the strengthening of Hong Kong’s radical pro-democracy political parties in 2012, more and more protest visuals are likely to be those of the SAR’s subaltern counterpublic confronting the local and central regimes. Unlike “riot porn” which typically invokes the image of violence, Hongkongers—even the more radical actors—are probably more likely to adopt something akin to “defiance porn”: images of standing up to the regime be it in front of a police riot line or sitting in the middle of vehicle intersections (traffic stoppage). The “Standing Man” type of image event protest—accompanied by the rhetoric of “Hong Kong first” or “we are all Hongkongers (so come over to our side)”—seems more congruent with the Hongkonger tradition of peaceful protest even when half-a-million residents take to the streets. During recent confrontations with the police in Hong Kong these types of images—as online mobilization, recruitment, and solidarity visuals—have been observed (Garrett and Ho 2014). They are also consistent with the stated logic and rhetoric of newly emerged movements in Hong Kong like Occupy Central which advocate non-violent confrontation through civil disobedience.

The longevity of the June 4th vigils and the 24th anniversary just transpired in 2013, and Hongkongers’ support of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China continued to be “thorns in Beijing’s side” (Yep 2010, p. 243) and revealed latent and not so latent fears of the Chinese communists that still vividly exist in contemporary Hong Kong society. Indeed, anticommunist sentiment remains so strong in the community that one Hong Kong advisor to the Chinese government entity responsible for interpreting the Basic Law and determining the pace of Hong Kong’s democratic reforms, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, warned that the SAR’s continued manifestation of anticommunism against the central government would “ruin” Hong Kong (Lau 2010). The 2012 chief executive election in Hong Kong was rife with accusations and suspicions that one of the candidates (and eventual winner) was an underground communist party member. Another candidate once considered a shoe-in for the “managed election” attempted to further play up Hongkongers’ fears by claiming his opponent (and eventual chief executive-elect) had wanted to deploy riot police and tear gas during the 1 July 2003 protest against the national security legislation (CLSA 2012).

Anticommunist sentiment was in full display during the 2012 and 2013 July 1st marches with many protesters carrying signs or embodying messages decrying the Party’s influence and “interference” in the SAR. In 2012, large banners warning “Hong Kong at Risk” and of a Hong Kong “stability preservation office” (weiwenban)—a reference to China’s controversial policy of quelling social and political protests on the mainland through tactics like illegal detentions and “black prisons”—under the new chief executive could be frequently seen. Numerous visual references to the suspected Chinese Communist Party (CCP) membership of the chief executive were also evident. Two demonstrators dressed in army uniforms carrying a large red banner in Chinese and English stating: “Heed the Party Be a Doggy.” By 2013, these refrains had taken a more aggressive, defiant, and vulgar tenor as exemplified by banners, hats, T-shirts, and placards bearing slogans like “Better Dead than Red”, “Fucking Chinese Dictators”, “Fuck the Police”, “FUCY”, and “Nice Day for a Revolution.” One pro-democracy political banner posted at the entrance of the park declared “Hong Kong Comes First!” A moderate-size group of young nativist protesters waved colonial-era flags and carried a large blue banner with “Hong Kong Lion and Dragon” flags on either side of their demand “Chinese Colonists Get Out!!” (See Fig. 4.1 at the beginning of this chapter). Other Events in Victoria Park (Fig. 4.21)

Fig. 4.21

Anti-mainland driver protest material at rally in Victoria Park, February 2012

In contrast to the huge events staging or taking place at Victoria Park such as July 1st and June 4th, some events are much smaller. In what some might consider a tad surreal, one small anti-mainland mother and anti-mainland driver protest6 in 2012 was held within the confines of a single soccer pitch in Victoria Park. In contrast to other processions that have an origin and destination spatially displaced, this parade orbited in a large eclipse within the confines of the soccer pitch. Just the same, the approximately 200 marchers displayed nearly every aspect of many of the typical processions in Hong Kong, that is, protest banners, loud speakers, floats, signs, chants, etc. Even an obligatory gaggle of journalists and spectators, at times outnumbering the protesters, were also on the peripheries of the political theater in the park.

Despite its small size, the protest was still culturally and politically significant in the context of contemporary tensions between Hong Kong and the Mainland and larger issues of social justice within Hong Kong like, locals’ fears over the SAR Government’s intention to allow Mainland drivers to drive in Hong Kong, anger over pressure on limited local maternity wards and resources from an influx of pregnant Mainlanders that precluded local women receiving care, and instances of discrimination toward Hongkongers in preference for Mainland customers by some local and international retail and luxury chains. Locals’ anxieties were accentuated by an October 2011 incident in a nearby Chinese city where a small child was run over and ignored by the driver and more than 20 pedestrians who callously walked by without intervening. The level of Mainland tourist inflows, four times the entire population of Hong Kong visited in 2011 alone, and cultural clashes between them and locals were another significant factor stoking tensions (Figs. 4.22, 4.23 and 4.24).

Fig. 4.22

Anti-mainland driver protest material at rally in Victoria Park, February 2012

Fig. 4.23

Anti-mainland driver protest material at rally in Victoria Park, February 2012

Fig. 4.24

Anti-mainland mother and driver protest material at Victoria Park rally, February 2012

4.3 Wan Chai

Southorn Playground is a small urban park next to the Wan Chai MTR station consisting of a children’s playground, four basketball courts, a soccer pitch, and sitting areas. It has a rich cultural history with the residents and, although small, is used for many cultural, political, sporting and smaller protests and rallies. It serves both as a destination and origin for protest activities and tends to be one of the venues used more often by the so called “patriotic forces” in Hong Kong. On 1 July, for example, Southorn has at various times hosted “patriotic” carnivals, demonstrations, and rallies as an alternative event to the much larger and diverse 1 July “democracy march” from Victoria Park. These events, in contrast to those taking place in Victoria Park, celebrate the return of Hong Kong and the Chinese national flag is often seen. Festivities also tend to resemble mainland celebrations in that traditional Chinese cultural and ethnic themes denoting unity and harmony are emphasized. These events are also patronized by Chinese and SAR Government officials and institutions such as the PLA ceremonial and performance troops. Examples of dominant forces’ other uses of the Southorn Playground include hosting election campaign rallies for the chief executive (Chan 2007a, b) and publicizing government initiatives with variety shows such as “Culture in Motion: A Celebration of Racial Harmony” (HKSAR Government 2007).

Subaltern acts of protest and resistance include events such as the first ever cross-boundary/border protest in solidarity with activists in nearby Guangdong Province in order to protect the use of the local Chinese dialect, Cantonese, which is predominately spoken in Hong Kong and in the Province. The protesters were reacting to Mainland Chinese authorities’ proposal to replace prime time Cantonese television shows with Mandarin which is the official language of the PRC (Yang 2010). Related “language” issues involving a visual component center on some Hong Kong retailers using simplified Chinese characters (official writing style) in place of traditional (used in Hong Kong) characters. Beyond intelligibility issues, this was also seen as a “culture war” with some Hongkongers referring to simplified writing as writing with “crippled Chinese.” Within Hong Kong this touches on larger and equally sensitive issues of local identity and culture which have increasingly been under contestation as the SAR continues to be integrated and assimilated into mainland China.

4.4 Central and Western

The Central District has a number of important and highly symbolic venues of local and national power whereas the Western District largely has just China’s Liaison Office. The most important of these in Central are: Charter Garden, Statue Square, and the former LegCo building between Charter Garden and Statue Square, and central government offices on Government Hill.

China’s PLA barracks are also located in Central but have not typically been the target of protests with a few notable exceptions such as in 2011 when protesters projected images of Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei on to the walls of the PLA building. On occasion, some demonstrators have paused at the front gates of the barracks en route to destinations such as the convention center in Wan Chai but these have been largely marginal actions.

In 2013, “Save Central” rallies and performance art-like protests have emerged and are targeting the creation of PLA Navy pier on the central waterfront promenade. Most spectacular to date was the creation of a large mockup of a PLA warship and its subsequent destruction by environmental activists, harbor conservationists, and subaltern legislators using a sledge hammer branded “I [heart] HK.” Photographs of the preparation of the ship and the actual demolition of the vessel were shared over Facebook and other social media to enhance the visuality of the event and the nascent “Save Central” movement. Notably, the activist artist, Kacey Wong, responsible for creating the ship and the “image event” has been involved in several other high-profile “political art interventions” during recent July 1st marches. (See Chap.  6)

Located in the Western District of Hong Kong Island, the Liaison Office is situated a bit out of the way from the normal hustle and bustle of Hong Kong daily and tourist life. Unlike the SAR Government offices, it is not located close to the MTR but it is near Hong Kong’s tram and numerous bus lines. Furthermore, the open space for holding protests infront of the office is very limited with busy roadways in front and behind the building and other skyscrapers located on either side of it. As during most demonstrations in Hong Kong, there is normally a very heavy police presence. That said, demonstrators in a 2010 New Year protest at the Liaison Office did try to force their way into the building. In general, 2010 marked the beginning of a period of increasingly confrontational exchanges between police and local pro-democracy supporters and of increasing willingness of the latter to directly target Beijing’s icons of power in the SAR rather than simply content themselves with demonstrating against China’s clients in Hong Kong. To date in 2012, large protests targeting the Liaison Office seem to become the norm as demonstrated by events in June and July.

Different venues in Central and Western are described below.

4.4.1 Charter Garden

Charter Garden, located in the Central District, is one of two green spaces located next to Hong Kong’s recently vacated LegCo building, the other being Statue Square. Both were located a short distance away from the SAR’s also recently vacated central government offices on Government Hill. Both moved to a new site, the Tamar Central Government Complex in Admiralty, in 2011. Several iconic and historic buildings are also located nearby such as St. John’s Cathedral, the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank of China (HSBC), and the Bank of China. Charter Garden and Statue Square are adjacent to, or a transit point to major tourist destinations in Hong Kong such as Victoria Park so these are high profile locations. It is claimed that, “since the beginning of the British colony the area that is now Central District has been the heart of the settlement” (Purcell Miller Tritton LLP 2009, p. 109). The contiguous aspect of the Charter Garden-LegCo-Statue Square-Government Hill space has, in the past, made it convenient as seat of protest against the SAR Government and, even, the larger neo-liberal global order and related social justice issues as exemplified by two of the many events held in this area: the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), and ‘Occupy Central.’ (Figs. 4.25 and 4.26)

Fig. 4.25

Solidarity message board at the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) rally held in Charter Garden, May 2012

Fig. 4.26

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) held in Charter Garden, May 2012 Occupy Central (Occupy Wall Street-type)

Hong Kong’s version of the “Occupy Wall Street” global movement was manifested in “Occupy Central” in October 2011. The action not only placed an anti-capitalist virus in the very midst of Hong Kong, Chinese, and international corporate chieftains and tycoons, but also quite literally inserted itself in the bowels of the HSBC complex itself which encompasses large public open space. Located adjacent to Statute Square, the public area under HSBC had typically been used for various corporate and social events and activities. On Sundays, it is one of the many destinations in Central (and elsewhere in Hong Kong) where tens-of-thousands of foreign domestic workers congregate on their day off. Numerous banners and placards were set-up on the periphery of the settlement and on street railings facing a major thoroughfare next to the bank. All of which were easily visible to pedestrians, and trams and vehicular traffic. The demonstrators’ “occupation city” consisted of bookshelves, couches, desks, sleeping bags, tents, and even a small kitchen. According to press accounts, about 50 protesters lived in the camp at the peak of the movement. Following the trend of other major cities evicting “occupy” settlements from public urban spaces, HSBC took legal action in June 2012 to begin the removal of the camp, claiming that it needed the public area for fund raising and other events, and that the occupation had been a nuisance to its customers and had forced the bank to incur security expenses because of the protesters; they also accused the movement of attempting to monopolize the public space (Cheung 2012). (Figs. 4.27 and 4.28)

Fig. 4.27

Global “Occupy Wall Street” comes to Hong Kong. “Occupy Hong Kong” aka “Occupy Central” displays in Central business district, January 2012

Fig. 4.28

“Occupy Hong Kong” aka “Occupy Central” in Central business district, January 2012

4.4.2 Statue Square (Fig. 4.29)

Fig. 4.29

Rally for Universal Suffrage in Statue Square adjacent the then Legislative Council, December 2007

Built in the nineteenth century, Statue Square is situated amid several historic buildings or monuments in addition to the LegCo building. This includes the Bank of China Building, the City Hall, and the Cenotaph.

Located next to the LegCo building and across from the HSBC and Bank of China buildings, Statue Square is an urban park of about 200 by 150 m. Once located just steps away from the territory’s famous Star Ferry piers and Queen’s Pier via a pedestrian underpass, the Square has a rich and storied colonial history. As one historian put it: “Few other sites in this city of over 7 million people carry as much colonial ‘baggage’ as this one” (Le Pichon 2009). Statute Square was, during colonial times, situated at the heart of the colonial power elite: “Influence in Hong Kong was wielded around Statue Square. In order to exercise it and to perform the necessities and duties of their professional lives, all they had to do was to cross Statue Square in one direction or the other and to find in its various buildings all that they could possibly wish for—good food, good wines, good legal advice, good bank loans, and, in the evening, at the City Hall, good performances of Gilbert and Sullivan”(Le Pichon 2009).

In more contemporary times, Statute Square and surrounding area was the centerpiece of the million person demonstration in support of the student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Described as an exemplar of the “contradictory space of global city”, Statute Square is said to be “the quintessential scene of the dual city claimed by the global capitalists and the marginal people” where “Filipina maids make themselves a visible actor in the city that refuses to be overlooked by means of their festival Sunday gatherings at the very center of the city, surrounded by those glass buildings that signify capital and phallic power …” (Huang 2000, p. 399)

4.5 “Days of Contention” Photo Essays

Several short photo essays depicting the dominated forces’ co-optation of special days as annual political rituals of counter-visuality. Subsequently, the application of the city’s physicality to suppress the multitudes of counter-public visual choruses is discussed in the succeeding chapter, Cityscape as Oppressor.

4.5.1 ‘Hong Kong Revolutions 2013’ New Year’s Day Procession, January 2013

(Figs. 4.30, 4.31, 4.32, 4.33, 4.34, 4.35, 4.36, 4.37, 4.38, 4.39, 4.40, 4.41, 4.42, 4.43, 4.44, 4.45, 4.46, 4.47 and 4.48)

Fig. 4.30

Radical pro-democracy political party People Power stage outside the Hong Kong Central Library in Causeway Bay prior to “Hong Kong Revolutions” march. Banner contains several visual and verbal references to kicking Chief Executive C. Y. Leung out of office

Fig. 4.31

People Power supporters wait to join the procession. “689” on the forehead of the silhouette of Chief Executive C. Y. Leung is a commonly used signifier for him and Hong Kong’s undemocratic political system

Fig. 4.32

Protester holds transgressive placard calling for the ouster of Chief Executive C. Y. Leung and visually framing him as an “(un)-wanted communist criminal”

Fig. 4.33

Protest banners attacking Hong Kong’s chief executive & calling for his resignation, Victoria Park

Fig. 4.34

Protest banners attacking Hong Kong’s chief executive & calling for his resignation, Victoria Park

Fig. 4.35

Protest banner in Victoria Park depicting Chief Executive C. Y. Leung as a blood thirsty vampire; verbal reference to trust tapped a recent Time magazine cover asking if Hong Kong could trust CY

Fig. 4.36

Protest effigy of the chief executive as a communist wolf and anti-censorship placard of a crab symbolizing mainland authorities

Fig. 4.37

One of many creative protest placards decrying HKSAR censorship and other policies

Fig. 4.38

Visual commentary on the governance Chief Executive C. Y. Leung using an effigy showing his “bum”

Fig. 4.39

Some effigies and placards in 2013 also carried colonial flags which were increasingly associated with nascent Hong Kong “autonomy” and “independence” movements which have since grown stronger

Fig. 4.40

The “Cheat Executive” refers to the perception that Chief Executive C. Y. Leung would “cheat” Hongkongers out of their freedoms and dreams for democracy

Fig. 4.41

Among the many mass produced protest flyers and standards observed in the “Hong Kong Revolutions” protest were vivid examples of protester agency

Fig. 4.42

Socialist Action activist speaks to demonstrations from a street station along the procession route

Fig. 4.43

Socialist Action activist holds up a political magazine whose cover depicts Hong Kong “flushing” Chief Executive C. Y. Leung out of Hong Kong

Fig. 4.44

Anti-CY Leung protest visuals and art activist Kacey Wong’s “The Pinocchio” effigy of Hong Kong’s chief executive

Fig. 4.45

Close-up of artist activist Kacey Wong’s “The Pinocchio” effigy of Chief Executive. The visual icons on Pinocchio’s nose associate CY with fascist and communist attributes

Fig. 4.46

A group of Hong Kong autonomy/independence/separatist advocates brandish colonial flags outside the HKSAR government headquarters following the “Hong Kong Revolutions” protest march

Fig. 4.47

Protester wears a rebellious mask popularly associated with Guy Fawkes, V for Vendetta, and the international hacker collective Anonymous while he waves a colonial flag at the HKSAR government complex

Fig. 4.48

Nativist demonstrators at the HKSAR government complex during “Hong Kong Revolutions” protest

4.5.2 ‘May Day’ Procession from Victoria Park to HKSAR Government Headquarters, May 2012

(Figs. 4.49, 4.50, 4.51, 4.52, 4.53, 4.54, 4.55, 4.56, 4.57, 4.58, 4.59, 4.60, 4.61 and 4.62)

Fig. 4.49

Large “May Day” banner at Victoria Park used in the rally and the annual procession

Fig. 4.50

Staging activities at Victoria Park for 2012 “May Day” procession

Fig. 4.51

Foreign domestic workers and migrant workers’ claims are strongly represented in the procession

Fig. 4.52

One of many foreign domestic workers and Asian migrant workers groups staging at Victoria Park for May Day march

Fig. 4.53

Foreign domestic worker embodied social justice messages

Fig. 4.54

Foreign domestic worker embodied social justice messages

Fig. 4.55

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union and Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions supporter

Fig. 4.56

Placards and props during 2012 May Day protest

Fig. 4.57

Worker groups performs during procession

Fig. 4.58

“We are the 99 %” trope from the global “Occupy Wall Street” movement resonated with many Hongkongers due to the city’s severe economic inequality

Fig. 4.59

Embodied “99 %” message

Fig. 4.60

Bystanders observe procession as it nears the SAR government headquarters at Tamar

Fig. 4.61

Protesters sitting in front of the HKSAR government headquarters complex in Tamar during May Day rally

Fig. 4.62

Protesters sitting in front of the HKSAR government complex with flyer demanding a HK$ 33 an hour minimum wage

4.5.3 June 4th Candlelight Vigil in Victoria Park, June 2012

(Figs. 4.63, 4.64, 4.65, 4.66, 4.67, 4.68, 4.69, 4.70, 4.71, 4.72, 4.73 and 4.74)

Fig. 4.63

Political stations and street stalls line Great George Street in Causeway Bay along the route to Victoria Park from the MTR exit

Fig. 4.64

Entering the 4 June candlelight vigil from the Causeway Bay entrance of Victoria Park. One of several large sound trucks broadcasting the speeches to the approximately 180,000 attendees

Fig. 4.65

Football-field sized banners line the six-soccer pitches making up the main vigil rendezvous point. Supporters hold candles in remembrance of the fallen

Fig. 4.66

Moments of silence and singing by candlelight

Fig. 4.67

Moments of silence and singing by candlelight

Fig. 4.68

Moments of silence and singing by candlelight

Fig. 4.69

Moments of silence and singing by candlelight

Fig. 4.70

With 180,000 participants at the 2012 vigil many waited for hours during the commemoration activities which includes numerous speakers, and educational and inspirational videos and testimonials

Fig. 4.71

Speakers and various organization provide literature on the 4 June incident and other issues of social and political concern regarding the situation in mainland China

Fig. 4.72

Youth participation in the annual political ritual has kept the observances strong after a quarter of a century

Fig. 4.73

The iconic shape of a lighted candle and wax holder has become a symbol of the 4 June vigils which can often be observed in other protest literature and mobilization visuals

Fig. 4.74

Activist artist 4 June performance in Causeway Bay outside the main MTR station exit

4.5.4 June 4th Candlelight Vigil in Victoria Park, June 2013

(Figs. 4.75, 4.76, 4.77, 4.78, 4.79, 4.80, 4.81, 4.82, 4.83 and 4.84)

Fig. 4.75

4 June supporter wearing a shirt depicting deceased Tiananmen activist Li Wangyang hands out literature

Fig. 4.76

Youth activist from Civic Passion pass out local pro-democracy paper 4 June edition. They wear an anti-Chinese Communist Party button on their shirts

Fig. 4.77

League of Social Democrats street station near Great George Street on route to Victoria Park

Fig. 4.78

The large iconic anticommunist banner on the left from People Power is situated next to a stall selling Occupy Central with Love and Peace t-shirts to raise funds for the movement

Fig. 4.79

Street stations and fund raising lining entrance to Victoria Park for the candlelight vigil

Fig. 4.80

Placard bearing close-up of the 8-m tall “Pillar of Shame” statue by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot that debuted in Victoria Park on the 8th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown in 1997. It depicts the agony of the victims killed in Tiananmen Square

Fig. 4.81

Firebrand Scholarism youth activist denouncing Hong Kong and Chinese governments’ policies in Causeway Bay on route to the 4 June candlelight vigil

Fig. 4.82

Firebrand Scholarism youth activist denouncing Hong Kong and Chinese governments’ policies in Causeway Bay on route to the 4 June candlelight vigil

Fig. 4.83

Selling or offering political t-shirts for donations during protest and rallies is a major source of fund raising for civil society and pro-democracy political groups in Hong Kong

Fig. 4.84

A youth group hold a musical commemoration on the back streets of Causeway Bay near Victoria Park. Such performers often use T-shirts and handmade badges depicting different social and political justice themes related to 4 June. (See Fig. 4.19 for one example)

4.5.5 July 1st procession, July 2012

(Figs. 4.85, 4.86, 4.87, 4.88, 4.89, 4.90, 4.91, 4.92, 4.93, 4.94, 4.95, 4.96, 4.97, 4.98, 4.99, 4.100, 4.101, 4.102, 4.103, 4.104, 4.105, 4.106 and 4.107)

Fig. 4.85

A huge banner at the entrance of Victoria Park staging area warns Hongkongers of mainland communist threats to their core values and way of life. The 2012 election of Chief Executive C. Y. Leung exacerbated and resurrected strong anticommunist sentiment in Hong Kong

Fig. 4.86

Pro-democracy Civic Party urges Hongkongers to become more politically active by appealing to the notion they can make a difference in Hong Kong

Fig. 4.87

Various protest banners and themes at July 1st protest staging site in Victoria Park. This banner taps public perceptions of Chief Executive C. Y. Leung’s personal attributes (“a cunning wolf”) and political allegiances (the Chinese Communist Party)

Fig. 4.88

The July 1st march often reflects a diversity of issues, e.g., this protect Hong Kong ‘s heritage banner

Fig. 4.89

Pro-democracy parties such as the Neo-Democrats and People Power lobby July 1st participants

Fig. 4.90

Activists in Causeway Bay paint messages on wooden poles to be carried in the July 1st procession

Fig. 4.91

Activists in Causeway Bay paint messages on wooden poles to be carried in the July 1st procession

Fig. 4.92

Activists in Causeway Bay paint messages on wooden poles to be carried in the July 1st procession.

Fig. 4.93

Activists in Causeway Bay paint messages on wooden poles to be carried in the July 1st procession

Fig. 4.94

One of many iconic adaptions of the image of Hong Kong’s chief executive C. Y. Leung as a “cunning wolf”

Fig. 4.95

Anticommunist protest material calling for chief executive C. Y. Leung to step down; also declares they do not want a communist chief executive or to have China’s Liaison Office interfere in Hong Kong

Fig. 4.96

Placard accusing the Chinese Communist Party of ruining Hong Kong as the “Pearl of the Orient” under British rule

Fig. 4.97

HKSAR officials denoted as communist party members through the application of the “Red Star” sign

Fig. 4.98

Representations of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive C. Y. Leung as a wolf were ubiquitous during the 2012 July 1st procession; effigies of wolves where protesters could display their anger by striking the wolf with a club, a shoe, or other objects were commonplace

Fig. 4.99

Local Hong Kong independent media offers a washcloth parodies of the Chinese national flag reimagined as a censorship state (the crabs representing Chinese Communist Party censorship.)

Fig. 4.100

A People Power display rejecting the institution of Chinese mainland “stability” policies in Hong Kong

Fig. 4.101

One of many displays of anticommunist sentiments during the 2012 July 1st march

Fig. 4.102

Protest posters depicting deceased mainland Tiananmen activist Li Wangyang were common visual tropes deployed by counter-hegemonic forces during the July 1st procession

Fig. 4.103

Protesters can “stamp out” Chief Executive C. Y. Leung

Fig. 4.104

Anti-regime political art performances along the 2012 July 1st procession route

Fig. 4.105

Anti-regime political art performances along the 2012 July 1st procession route

Fig. 4.106

Protest flyers blaming Chinese Communist Party for degradation of Hong Kong attached to sign poles along protest route

Fig. 4.107

Popular League of Social Democrats’ Leung Kwok-hung aka “Long Hair” rallies protesters from a street station along the procession route

4.5.6 July 1st procession, July 2013

(Figs. 4.108, 4.109, 4.110, 4.111, 4.112, 4.113, 4.114, 4.115, 4.116, 4.117, 4.118, 4.119, 4.120, 4.121, 4.122, 4.123, 4.124, 4.125, 4.126 and 4.127)

Fig. 4.108

Protester bearing the insurgent song “Do you hear the people sing” leads group during the 2013 July 1st procession

Fig. 4.109

Hongkonger anticommunist sentiment and anger embodied in T-shirts sold for fund raising

Fig. 4.110

Visage of Hong Kong chief executive C. Y. Leung is appropriated as a “Red Giant” effigy attacking Hong Kong as inspired by the anime and mange series “Attack on Titan” (and the unofficial derivative work “Attack on China”)

Fig. 4.111

T-shirts and other items bearing various symbolic acts of defiance sold for fund raising; the “Red Riding Hood” icon has her hands positioned in the gesture of crossed arms made popular by the student movement Scholarism during the 2012 anti-Moral and National Education occupation and protests

Fig. 4.112

Embodied anti-Chief Executive C. Y. Leung text

Fig. 4.113

Pro-democracy protester placard refers to perceptions that pro-government businesses’ offered politically motivated “sales” during the July 1st holiday to reduce turnout at the democracy march

Fig. 4.114

Hundreds-of-thousands of protesters came out to march despite a typhoon

Fig. 4.115

Protester wears a popular transgressive message directed at chief executive C. Y. Leung which has become popular among radicals and youth in Hong Kong

Fig. 4.116

Hongkongers weighted down by government scandals, poor governance, and mainland pressure

Fig. 4.117

Protester umbrellas are often used to display political claims in Hong Kong protests

Fig. 4.118

Anti-regime & anticommunist visuals such as C. Y. Leung as Mao and Liaison Office interference.

Fig. 4.119

Anti-regime & anticommunist visuals such as C. Y. Leung as Mao and Liaison Office interference

Fig. 4.120

Transgressive anti-Chief Executive C. Y. Leung placard

Fig. 4.121

League of Social Democrats anti-Chief Executive C. Y. Leung political flyer attached to umbrella

Fig. 4.122

Anti-C. Y. Leung anger was widely displayed during the 2013 July 1st procession

Fig. 4.123

Placards and banners rejecting China

Fig. 4.124

Placards and banners rejecting China

Fig. 4.125

Placards and banners rejecting China. Here pro-democracy legislator Gary Fan’s Neo-Democrats visually promote their “Hong Kong Comes First” message

Fig. 4.126

Display of strong anticommunist sentiment

Fig. 4.127

Transgressive anger towards Chinese officials and local security authorities (Hong Kong Police Force) who are perceived as cracking down on Hong Kong activists and restricting Hongkongers’ freedoms

4.5.7 ‘Unlawful Assembly’ Procession for Chinese Dissidents on China’s National Day, October 2013

(Figs. 4.128, 4.129, 4.130, 4.131, 4.132, 4.133, 4.134, 4.135, 4.136, 4.137, 4.138, 4.139, 4.140, 4.141, 4.142, 4.143, 4.144, 4.145, 4.146 and 4.147)

Fig. 4.128

An “unlawful assembly” in Statue Square organized by the League of Social Democrats and other groups to remember mainland June 4th and other dissidents on China’s National Day. Protesters intended to march to China’s Liaison Office in Western District. Here participants hold up a banner for the action

Fig. 4.129

“Friends of Conscience” flyer listing Chinese dissidents and political prisoners

Fig. 4.130

A league of social democrats activist prepares for the March

Fig. 4.131

Protesters prepare embodied visual protest messages and effigies (coffin with clock representing time running out on the Chinese regime—the clock’s hour and minutes hands are symbolically set at ten and one—October 1st—the People’s Republic of China’s National Day

Fig. 4.132

Effigies of Chinese dissidents imprisoned by China

Fig. 4.133

Funeral wreath protest prop

Fig. 4.134

Images of dissidents Liu Xiaobo & his wife, a “funeral” wreath, coffin and protester “pall bearers” at the front of the procession heading to China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong

Fig. 4.135

Protesters marching to the Liaison Office prior to being stopped by police

Fig. 4.136

Protesters take to the streets but are stopped by police after a short distance thereby leading to an hours-long stand-off between the regime security forces and the pro-democracy activists demanding justice for 4 June victims and Chinese dissidents; League of Social Democrats legislator Leung Kwok-hung aka “Long Hair” appeals to the police to let the protesters continue their march to China’s representative’s office. Counter-protesters—who are pro-regime—harangue the protesters from across the street

Fig. 4.137

A protest implores police to have empathy and compassion for the plight of the Chinese dissidents and let the protesters pass

Fig. 4.138

One of several warnings given over more than 6 h by the police to the protesters to disperse

Fig. 4.139

Activist takes a break during the stand-off and sits on the road to read while waiting patiently for police to let them proceed with their march

Fig. 4.140

Activist holding placard of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and his wife

Fig. 4.141

Activists waved placards, chanted, and shouted slogans during the long stand-off with police

Fig. 4.142

As the evening stand-off continued police increased their warnings and efforts to get the protesters to leave the street where police had surrounded them. Here police deploy their final warning banner before beginning to physically remove protesters

Fig. 4.143

Police begin forcibly removing protesters after the long stand-off

Fig. 4.144

Police carried away some protesters while clutched posters of mainland dissidents

Fig. 4.145

Some officers used wrist and joint locks on protesters while removing them from the street

Fig. 4.146

Here police use wrist locks and carry away a League of Social Democrats activist

Fig. 4.147

Police carrying away protesters through a large gauntlet of standing officers lining the street


  1. 1.

    The 1st July march is frequently referred to as a “democracy march” in the media by democracy advocates and some scholars. Demands for universal suffrage and greater democratic governance were, and continue to be, part of the march’s essence and tradition. Yet, a significant amount of other social and political issues are also commonly incorporated in the marches. This is also a reflection of the several dozen social, political, and NGO groups that belong to the Civil Human Rights Front entity which organizes the annual event.

  2. 2.

    Significantly, this same government organization has been embroiled in several other politicized incidents involving public assemblies, displays, and speech where it has been accused of targeting anti-regime groups (the Falun Gong) and ignoring pro-regime (Hong Kong Youth Care Association) transgressions.

  3. 3.

    Among other movements and political issues, Victoria Park was the site of Hong Kong’s “Defend the Diaoyutai” movement in the 1970s, various student movement protests, and many rallies and demonstrations in support of the student demonstrations in Tiananmen in 1989 (Leung 2000).

  4. 4.

    The Goddess of Democracy replica reproduces the one constructed by student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

  5. 5.

    A variety of other issues were also apparent such as the governance of the chief executive but Article 23 was clearly the operative impetus for incident.

  6. 6.

    This was in response to mainland mothers coming to Hong Kong to give birth thereby “taking” limited maternity ward spaces, thus depriving local mothers-to-be of needed medical facilities and services. Other issues included the alleged scarcity of infant milk powder for “Hong Kong babies” said to be caused by mainlanders buying large quantities of formula in Hong Kong for resale on the mainland. This trade was driven in part by mainland food safety and counterfeit concerns. Anxieties regarding mainland drivers included fears of hit and run crimes by mainland drivers who might then flee to the Mainland to escape prosecution. See (Garrett 2013)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.City University of Hong KongKowloonHong Kong SAR

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