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Middlebury student Adrian Leong was interviewed by The Guardian.

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Middlebury College Student in Hong Kong Vows the Protest Will Go On

October 7, 2014

Middlebury College student Ho Wang "Adrian" Leong '16 has been active in the youth protest movement that has developed in his home of Hong Kong. This posting consists of three parts:
In an interview (below) with The Guardian's Phoebe Greenwood, Adrian Leong, and his mother Carol, discuss their family's connection to the protests and describe the history-making role youth are playing in this political struggle. 
 
"It seems like this generation is willing to break the law and to dirty their own records just for a cause they believe in," said Leong in his interview. "This is the kind of break-through that the government has never seen before–a young generation that is not willing to back down...we are wiling to fight until the end. It doesn't really matter what's the outcome."
 
 

UPDATE: 10/8/14

Adrian Leong ’16 emailed the Communications Office at Middlebury with the following reflection and photos from the "Umbrella Revolution" in Hong Kong:

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Right now I am participating in the largest social movement Hong Kong has seen in the past century. Dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution” by foreign news sources, what it is is really an effort by the pro-democracy camp to force the Hong Kong Government to give the HK people their basic rights to a universal and equal suffrage. If there is one keyword for what we are fighting for, it is “choice”. In recent months, Beijing has tightened its grip on HK's politics, starting with the White Paper, released in June earlier this year, which sought to destroy the original “One Country, Two Systems” design of HK as stipulated in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. In a consistent manner, in August the Central Government drew up the framework within which HK people must elect their top leader in 2017 that prohibits any real choice.

All of these recent developments culminated in the student strikes that began on 22nd September, and then after certain student leaders were unfairly treated by the Police, and the Police abused their power in an effort to disperse protesters, the number of protesters swelled. Now, these pro-democracy protesters are occupying a total of three districts in the city, representing an immense pressure upon the government to talk to student leaders and to really take the pro-democracy camp's opinions into account – for the first time, some may argue, since the consultation process began for the political reforms.

Originally, I was taking a semester-off in Taiwan, volunteering at various organic farms. When I saw the news on the misuse of tear gas against peaceful protesters in Hong Kong, I knew I could not miss the chance to witness and to participate in this historical moment of my city.

I have been moved to tears several times during my visits to the occupied sites. All of the slogans hanging down from the overpasses and the walls, the peaceful behaviors exhibited by the majority of protesters, and the sheer number of protesters despite repeated warnings of an imminent crackdown are testimonies to how much this generation of citizens of HK is willing to sacrifice for a fairer election. Overnight, these otherwise busy transportation routes have been transformed: now, not only are they void of vehicles of every kind, but they also carry the hopes for a better future of an entire generation. These earnest wishes manifest themselves in the form of highly-sophisticated roadblock designs, or impassioned impromptu speeches, or beautifully-designed posters, or self-initiated Community Bookshelf... The combined power of love and peace still never ceases to amaze me, and it urges me to ponder ever more seriously on this question: what can I do more for this place? 

My simple wish for the outcome of this protest: even after the occupation, after we have been granted what we deserve as HK citizens, we will never forget about the feelings we had when we spent the day or the night inside the occupied areas. Whenever we are in doubt of where we stand, or how to further apply the values we hold most dear, we can wander aimlessly back to this world full of creations, draw some strength from it, and then move on.

Thank you!,
Adrian

UPDATE: 10/16/14

The following is Adrian's report from Hong Kong emailed to Middlebury on the morning of October 16.

As the iconic image of the “Umbrella Man” from the Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution recedes into the back of our minds, it becomes clear that the HK government has adopted a new tactic to suppress the huge public outcry for genuine universal suffrage in the city. They are playing a waiting game with the protesters who are beginning to doubt whether their current strategy in the wider non-cooperation movement will be sufficient to bring Beijing to her knees. Seventeen full days have come and gone since people poured themselves onto the streets in China's busiest financial center on 28th September, and in an economy that in recent years has grown increasingly dependent on revenues from tourism and especially the sales of daily necessities to shoppers from China, more and more business owners say they cannot hold out much longer.

As a result, protesters are actively seeking ways to channel this momentous non-cooperative spirit elsewhere while increasing the cost of governance for the city's officials: flash-mob-style occupations of roads in the central business districts, gathering in the tens of hundreds inside a police station to report cases of alleged unlawful use of violence against protesters by the Police, and making tax payments in $1 HKD checks are just a few examples.

Simultaneously, in the occupied areas that protesters have been fighting very hard to defend in the past weeks, basic facilities and services beyond rubbish recycling and clean washrooms have been set up, turning busy roads into burgeoning communities, complete with movie screenings, public lectures, a sizeable study area with “homemade” tables put together with unwanted wooden boards, origami workshops (have you seen the HK-style paper umbrellas?), and tent and sleeping pad rentals.

No matter what the protesters collectively decide will be the next steps of this movement, one thing is clear: until Beijing acknowledges HK people's strong desire for self-governance and act upon such knowledge, this fight will go on.

3 Comments

Today's report from a MIDD student in Hong Kong couldn't be more timely. We all admire the citizens of Hong Kong in their efforts to promote the democracy they were promised when the government shifted from England to China.

by Edward Kelty (not verified)

Thanks for the report on the protest and how it is evolving. The students are brave to stand against the government. In the process, they're involved in making history.

by Cindy (not verified)

I just watched Adrian's interview on bbc news. What an impressive, articulate intelligent young man. The best representative of occ I have seen.

by David (not verified)

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