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[Occupy Central Finished Already?]
Occupy Central’s Benny Tai declares that Occupy Central has “failed” in regards to that Beijing did not back down in the face of popular protest. Tai stated that in the face of “political reality” and the “pragmatism” of Hong Kong people, whereas he was previously confident that Occupy Central could bring out a mobilization of 10,000, he now says that is a “maybe.” Namely, occupying Hong Kong’s Central business district runs the risk too high of permanently damaging Hong Kong’s economy.
One may speculate as to whether Tai’s comments are genuine or, in fact, meant to drum up agitation in preparation for future protest. Chen Kinman, also a prominent Occupy Central leader, publicly disagreed with Tai’s comments. Yet prior optimism may have been misguided.
Very probably, what is becoming visible now under tension is the internal splits within Occupy Central. Some have also pointed to divides between Occupy Central leaders and Hong Kong’s very active student organizers. It may be that with the backing down of Occupy Central leaders, students will seize a more active role in determining the course of future protest. Certainly, given that the election under contestation is slated for 2017, it should be apparent from the beginning that the struggle of Occupy Central will be one for the long haul. The next few years will be crucial for movement building. And while western response has been quiet to date, if Hong Kong is to achieve democracy, it will have to do so with its own hands.
Brian Hioe is a freelancer currently based in Taipei, he will be starting an M.A. in East Asian Languages and Culture at Columbia University in Fall 2014.