Former Tiananmen Student Leader: Hong Kong Occupy Movement Won’t End Like 1989

By Larry Ong
Larry Ong
Larry Ong
Larry Ong is a New York-based journalist with Epoch Times. He writes about China and Hong Kong. He is also a graduate of the National University of Singapore, where he read history.
November 12, 2014 Updated: November 12, 2014

Zhou Fengsuo believes that the drive for democracy will endure in Hong Kong even if the protesters are cleared off the streets.  

Zhou, a former student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen protests, was in Hong Kong from Nov. 2 to Nov. 8 to view and camp out at the protest sites, speak to the crowd, and show his support for the student-led pro-democracy demonstrations.

In an interview with the Telegraph, the 47-year-old San Francisco resident praised the students’ “tenacity and courage,” adding that the Umbrella Movement is a “moment of awakening for Hong Kong.”

MORE: Chinese Leader Xi Jinping Says Hong Kong’s Occupy Movement is Illegal

Zhou was also impressed by the orderly occupation.  

“The Chinese communist regime describes the situation in Mong Kok as chaotic and terrifying, but in reality, the place is very neat and clean,” Zhou told Radio Free Asia (RFA).

When asked to compare the Occupy movement with the 1989 Tiananmen protests, Zhou said: “Actually, both movements are identical in their idealism, self-sacrifice, peaceful and rational approach, as well as a strong sense of community.”

It is the differences between the Hong Kong students protests and the earlier one in Beijing, however, that will account for the former enduring and were the reason for the latter failing.

Zhou says that Hong Kong’s student organizations have almost sixty years of history, whereas the Beijing Students’ Autonomous Federation banded together for barely two months before being put down.

By virtue of being well-established, the student organizations can carry on the legacy of the protesters after they have been swept off the streets.

It helps that Hong Kong still has political parties, is autonomous from China, and has a free press, unlike on the mainland, Zhou adds.

MORE: Obama’s Bid for New China Ties Can’t Quell Tension

After the Chinese communist regime went in with tanks and guns at Tiananmen twenty-five years ago, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) suppressed and censored information of the crackdown to the extent that many mainland Chinese are nearly clueless about the student protests.

However, because Hong Kong is different, “the government cannot conquer these awakened youths.”

The youths of Hong Kong are likely to be chased off sooner going by recent signs.

On Monday, Nov. 9, the Hong Kong High Court authorized the police to help bailiffs remove the protesters off two of the three occupation sites.

The following day, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam announced that the Hong Kong government are hardening their stance towards the students and won’t have another dialogue with them.

Lam also urged students to leave the occupied areas “voluntarily and peacefully.”

MORE: Here’s Why 90% of Hong Kong Students Aren’t Ending the Umbrella Movement Soon

There is a chance that the Hong Kong police won’t resort to violence this time though.

About 7,000 police could be mobilized, but they allegedly won’t use baton charges to drive protesters away.

Also, Zhou and his fellow former Tiananmen student activists might not have to worry about China bringing in the tanks and troops.

At a press conference with United States President Barack Obama at the APEC meetings in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping said that the central government won’t step in to handle the Hong Kong protests.

Xi added that law and order, and public safety in Hong Kong must be maintained, and his reference to public safety suggests that a violent crackdown is unlikely.

If Xi is good on his word, then the world won’t see a tragic end to the Umbrella Movement, unlike at Tiananmen in 1989.

Larry Ong
Larry Ong is a New York-based journalist with Epoch Times. He writes about China and Hong Kong. He is also a graduate of the National University of Singapore, where he read history.