An uneasy calm rests over Hong Kong as the city closes its fourth day of demonstrations, the largest protests to hit the city since its handover from Britain to China in 1997. With some area banks, ATMs, schools, and subway stops closed due to the occupiers purposefully obstructing main thoroughfares, Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed government has repeatedly demanded that protesters return home; the demonstrators, ranging from high school students to retirees, have refused. Who leads this disparate group of city residents, who have launched the port city, well-known for its stability and investment-friendly environment, into historic civil disobedience? From a 17-year-old with an already long history of standing up to Beijing, to a 70-year-old reverend with a dream for the city, Foreign Policy explains which movements and leaders to watch.
The Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), founded in 1958 and made up of student unions from eight schools, is known for cultivating social activists from different generations. The HKFS has helped orchestrate Hong Kong’s class boycott, which on Sept. 22 included striking students converging upon the Chinese University of Hong Kong wearing matching white T-shirts. The HKFS helped engage the support of university professors, some of whom have recorded their lectures to help boycotting students keep up with classes; other professors turned out to support the students.
Occupy Central with Love and Peace is a pro-democracy civil disobedience movement founded as a response to what some in Hong Kong see as Beijing’s gradual encroachment upon the city’s political freedoms. Occupy Central proposed in January 2013 that if Hong Kong were not granted universal suffrage as outlined by Hong Kong’s Basic Law, Occupy Central protesters would shut down Hong Kong’s central financial district, effectively crippling the city, which has been known as a safe and stable destination for global business. Occupy Central held an unofficial referendum in June about the future of voting reform, with over 800,000 of Hong Kong’s 7.2 million residents casting votes. As two of the three leaders are devout Christians, Occupy Central has a distinct religious vibe, as the name suggests. The movement kicked off in March 2013, when the three leaders held a press conference to announce the manifesto at a church in Kowloon, a densely populated area at the heart of Hong Kong.
Full Article: The People Behind Hong Kong’s Protests.