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Protesters in Hong Kong Have Changed Their Playbook. Here's How.



For weeks, protesters in Hong Kong have organized demonstrations that are not only larger but also more effective than the Umbrella Movement of 2014, when demonstrators blocked major roadways for weeks in a failed campaign for more open elections.

This time, the protesters have more concrete demands and are also adopting new tactics. They have been released in record numbers for weekend marches and were able to do so again on Monday, the anniversary of the territory's return to China from Britain. Smaller groups of younger protesters have blocked roads and disrupted government services in response to anonymous calls in encrypted chat apps and online forums. Significant protests in June

June 9

Large demonstration

June 12

Surrounded government headquarters, police responded with force

June 16

Large demonstration

June 21

Surrounded police headquarters

June 24

Blocked government buildings for taxation and immigration

June 25

Raised $ 700,000 through crowdfunding for ad campaign June 26

Marched to consulates of G20 countries

Large rally

Surrounded police headquarters

June 27

Surrounded Department of Justice




Protesters occupied major roads in the area. Police responded with 150 rounds of tear gas End

Government

headquarters

Protesters spilled

onto other roads

End

Government

headquarters

Protesters blocked multiple government buildings

Protesters disrupted multiple government services again

Police headquarters were surrounded for more than 15 hours

Harcourt Rd. was occupied for an hour.

Circles represent

consulates of

G20 countries

8 pm

Rally near city hall

9 am

G20 consulates march

10 pm [19659038] Blockade at police headquarters

Protesters occupy major roads in the area. Police responded with 150 rounds of tear gas End

Government

headquarters

End

Government

headquarters

Protesters spilled

onto other roads

Protesters blocked multiple government buildings

Protesters disrupted multiple government services again

Police headquarters were surrounded for more than 15 hours

Harcourt Rd. was occupied for an hour.

Circles represent

consulates of

G20 countries

8 pm

Rally near city hall

9 am

G20 consulates march

10 pm [19659062] blockade at police headquarters

End

Government

headquarters

Protesters occupied major roads in the area. Police responded with 150 rounds of tear gas .

End

Government

headquarters

Protesters spilled

onto other roads

Protesters blocked multiple government buildings.

Police headquarters

was surrounded for

more than 15 hours.

Harcourt Rd.

8 pm

Rally near city hall

9 am

G20 consulates march

10 pm

Blockade at police headquarters

] Satellite images by DigitalGlobe via Bing and Google Earth Studio

Five years ago, thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators paralyzed key commercial districts in Hong Kong but ultimately failed to win concessions from the government.

“At the time, the people were stuck in a fixed place, which made it easier for the government to cope, ”said Chung Kim-wah, a professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, referring to the Umbrella Movement.

He noted that many of this summer's protests were not planned ahead in the way they had been in 2014.

Some of the recent protests have been conventional, like a rally on Wednesday night that was organized by the Civil Human Rights Front, a pro-democracy group. The group has coordinated several recent marches that filled the streets in a dramatic display of the city's anxiety about being ruled by authoritarian China.

But a distinctive feature of this year's movement is that it has also been somewhat leaderless. Decisions on when, where and how to protest have been made collectively on social media platforms where users are anonymous and details are drawn up and like-called upvotes.

The movement uses LIHKG, an online forum similar to Reddit, Where users post calls to action, and the most popular ones get pushed to the top of the forum. It was on this forum that users organized on Wednesday that took protesters in the consulates of the Group of 20 members.

Protests ahead of the G20 were organized on forums and by traditional pro-democracy groups

Consulate march organized by online forum

Rally organized by Civil Human Rights Front

Lam New York Times Lam Yik Fei

Protesters have become more agile and mobile by using Telegram, an encrypted messaging platform, creating public channels to share information and narrower private groups to quickly organize actions.

"Occupying drains a lot of energy," Dr. Chung said, explaining that protesters can now get together with a few thousand people to disrupt government services for short periods of time. This allows them to preserve their energy as well as cause less disruption, which helps with staying on the right side of public opinion, he said.

An example of how online channels are used by protesters




A post suggesting protesters disperse got more than 10,000 votes




A chat that shares protest information in a poll on or not to stay.

Note: Offensive language has been grayed out

Eric Siu, one of the participants in Wednesday's protests, create user threads on LIHKG and provide suggestions. "Then people will give responses or click to make that specific thread a hot one," he said. “We can predict what is going to happen at which posts are the hottest.”

This tactic has also allowed protesters to move quickly from location to location, sometimes without much advance planning. Benny Yap, a car dealership owner, has been voluntarily delivering supplies to protesters and figures out where they are by checking the LIHKG forum. During the Umbrella Movement, it would simply show up at government offices where protesters had set up tents.

Images shared on a local social media site called for protests and other actions

Advertisements that ran in newspapers in different countries through a crowd-funded campaign

The Civil Human Rights Front, which has organized recent marches, has now also taken on a new role, providing support for acts of civil disobedience initiated by the online groups whenever needed. is full of energy and new ideas, ”said Bonnie Leung, a spokeswoman for the group. "These things are not traditional political groups would have done."

But this movement is not without conflict. On Wednesday night, after an organized march and rally in the day, hundreds of protesters moved to surround the police headquarters for a second time at several days and refused to disperse to early morning, a move that some criticized online.

Protesters outside of police headquarters on June 21.
The New York Times Lam Yik Fei

Some demonstrators wary that these tactics would alienate the public. Protesters drew criticism after thousands of first-mentioned police headquarters and disrupted services at two other government buildings. A handful of protesters later handed out flyers to members of the public and apologized for the inconvenience.


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