As world leaders meet in Beijing for the Apec forum, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy umbrella movement continues. Even if the tens of thousands of protesters who poured on to the streets after the police launched 87 rounds of teargas at students on 28 September have shrunk in number, the occupations have endured far longer than anyone expected.
Although the protest’s goals may not be met before the next major election, in 2017, it has already succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its originators. None of them expected the occupation to get this big or last this long.
More cosmopolitan, inclusive, and networked than previous social movements in the region, the umbrella revolution is arguably “the first ever genuine movement for freedom on Chinese soil,” as a visitor from Beijing put it to me last week. We were speaking next to my tent, in the Admiralty occupation, where I have been camping in order to conduct research on mainland Chinese people’s engagement with political protests and to examine what that entails for the future of the region.