Introduction: The Umbrella Movement and Liberation Theology

Part of the Asian Christianity in the Diaspora book series (ACID)


September 28, 2014, is usually considered the day that the theological landscape in Hong Kong changed. For 79 days, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens occupied key political and economic sites in the Hong Kong districts of Admiralty, Causeway Bay, and Mong Kok, resisting the government’s attempts to clear them out until court injunctions were handed down in early December.1 Captured on social media and live television, the images of police in Hong Kong throwing 87 volleys of tear gas and pepper-spraying students writhing in agony have been imprinted onto the popular imagination around the world. Using the image of a student standing up all wrapped up in plastic wrap to protect against police brutality, the cover story of The Economist on October 4, 2014, was titled “The Party v. the People,” attempting to analyze the Hong Kong protests’ impact on relations with Beijing. Not to be outdone, the Time magazine cover dated October 13, 2014, featured the image of a goggled young man with a face mask triumphantly holding up two umbrellas surrounded almost like incense with the smoke of the tear gas. On the front of the magazine is plastered three words, "The Umbrella Revolution," declaring that Hong Kong’s youth were fed up with the lack of democracy in this Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Gathering shortly thereafter in their newly formed Umbrella Square, the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism (a secondary school student movement led by the charismatic Joshua Wong Chi-fung, himself gracing the cover of Time the very next week on October 20) declared that this was not a revolution because they were not overthrowing the government.2 They asserted that the occupations were a movement—the Umbrella Movement—to demand that the government institute “genuine universal suffrage,” the right of citizens in Hong Kong to vote for candidates that they could directly nominate and who would not have to be vetted by the central government in Beijing. A series of debates circulated in the Umbrella Movement’s wake, wondering whether the protests constituted Hong Kong’s Tiananmen moment, hearkening back to the student democracy movement that had resulted in close to one million people occupying Beijing’s central public square in 1989, only to be violently suppressed with tanks, bayonets, and live bullets throughout the streets of the PRC’s capital on June 4.3


Sexual Minority Chinese Communist Party Special Administrative Region Thick Description Catholic Social Teaching 
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© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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