An Inside Look into the Hong Kong Protests & Uprising (w/ Joseph Cheng)

An Inside Look into the Hong Kong Protests & Uprising (w/ Joseph Cheng)

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SUNIL BERI: Hi, we’re sitting here today with
Professor Joseph Cheng in Hong Kong, formerly a university professor of political science
at City University Hong Kong, and also a member of Civic Party, which is a pro-democratic
party. What we’re going to do today is basically
talk about the protests in Hong Kong, the genesis of these protests, and probably step
back a bit and look at the roots and the causes of what has led to the current state of affairs,
how we are progressing in the timeline to these protests– the important dates– and
how these protests could develop going forward, and what the viewers of Real Vision can take
away from this. So that’s basically with that. Maybe I can ask Joseph too if you could start
a little bit about the genesis of these protests and how far should people think? JOSEPH CHENG: Well, the socioeconomic conditions
of a vast majority of Hong Kong people actually have been deteriorating. And this is especially so among the younger
generation. People definitely are angry, dissatisfied,
and they are also unhappy with the be-grant of the government. Hong Kong enjoyed the per capita GDP of $48,000
last year. But behind this superficial prosperity, the
gap between the rich and poor is very substantial. The Gini coefficient measured 0.539 in the
last by-census in 2016. A vast majority of Hong Kong people actually
feel that their real incomes have been falling since 1997. For the young people especially, they certainly
feel that there has been a decline in upward social mobility opportunities, limited job
prospects for them, and they also feel almost hopeless in acquiring their own accommodation. SUNIL BERI: So let me go back a bit and talk
about the Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient is a measure of the inequality
that happened. So although it happened in 2016, it probably
hasn’t changed or gone down and probably has worsened. Is that a fair assumption? JOSEPH CHENG: Probably so, given the fact
that the property prices have been going up. And this certainly means that the gap between
the rich and the poor– that is those who have property and those who do not have property–
has been widening. You see, the previous two administrations–
the Donald Tsang administration– obviously neglected the supply of land, resulting in
this crisis in housing conditions today. But the CY Leung administration– Carrie Lam’s
predecessor– as well as the present administration, they have all said that they would make housing
a top priority in their policy programs. But so far, they have not been able to deliver. And this has resulted in a lot of accusations
on the part of the people that the government and the big businesses have been colluding. And in the recent one or two years, people
are now accusing the Carrie Lam administration of betraying Hong Kong, namely that the administration
has been too eager to toe the Beijing line, too eager to please the big businesses, and
have not stood up for the interests of ordinary Hong Kong people. SUNIL BERI: So let me go back and throw some
numbers at you. So there is about 1.75 billion of the workforce
that does not pay any taxes. The top 21 tycoons basically have more reserves
than the accumulated reserves of Hong Kong. And then at the bottom, you have basically
the top decile of the income earners earning 44 times of the bottom decile of income earners. The minimum wage adjusted for inflation is
about $3.50 or it’s around about that number. Your savings rate is 26%, but does that reflect
the true nature? JOSEPH CHENG: Yes, you look at the young graduates–
young university graduates– who now form the backbone of the protesters in the recent
weeks, in the past 10 years and more, their starting median salary has been around 11,000,
12,000 Hong Kong dollars– about $1,500. But this is not the real issue. The real issue is that as they see it, it
is extremely difficult for their salaries to break the, say, 30,000 Hong Kong dollars
monthly point, despite the fact that they may gradually have been working for 10, 20
years and even more. And this also means that they cannot hope
to have their own accommodation. SUNIL BERI: So let me go back to the income. So what does 11,000 or 12,000 Hong Kong dollars
you are able to do in terms of rent? JOSEPH CHENG: Not much. So most of the young people actually are now
staying with their parents, eat with their parents. And this will reduce their basic expenditure
and they still have a bit of money to spend. Otherwise, if they have to be independent
completely, they try to rent a partitioned room right around 80 square feet. That would cost 7,000, 8,000 Hong Kong dollars–
more than one half of their monthly salary. SUNIL BERI: Right. So the median income that is spent on Hong
Kong’s rent average or median rent according to government figures is about 69%. And for the benefit of the viewers, the subdivided
room is basically a 300-square-foot or an 800-square-foot flat that is subdivided into
smaller rooms, where they just simply have a room to sleep and work, but not much other
than that. Is that the correct definition? JOSEPH CHENG: Exactly. SUNIL BERI: And is that something that is
within the Hong Kong Island or Kowloon Island or you’re talking about the outlying islands? JOSEPH CHENG: Well, I basically apply this
to Hong Kong. And Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, that is
the most central urban areas. If you move further outside to the suburbs
to new territories, you may pay less– maybe 25%, 30% less in terms of rents, but then
you have to spend more on transport and you have to spend more time. Have to understand that Hong Kong people normally
work quite long hours– at least 10, 11 hours a day. SUNIL BERI: So they could spend another 45
minutes to 1 and 1/2 hours getting back home. JOSEPH CHENG: Each trip. SUNIL BERI: Each trip. On each way. OK. So we covered about the cost of living, which
is obviously very high. And everybody knows that, but I think it gives
a different perspective– what it actually buys you. So you’re basically buying an 80 square feet,
which I think is smaller than the prison cell. JOSEPH CHENG: Depends on the prison, or which
country you go to. SUNIL BERI: Hong Kong. JOSEPH CHENG: Yeah. SUNIL BERI: So that basically solves the one
issue, or makes people aware what the housing issue is. Let’s go back and talk about the second issue
you said– about the career advancement, and what type of jobs they can get, and what type
of businesses they can go into. JOSEPH CHENG: Most people can still get jobs. Even at the very worst, people with a degree
or subdegree can still work as an agent, as a sales person, or at a very minimum, they
can offer private tuition to younger children. So that means that they have no difficulty
earning the basic pocket money. But you have to be aware that there is no
unemployment benefits in Hong Kong. And unfortunately, most of the young people,
after their tertiary education, still have high hopes on the basis of the traditional
Confucian values. They still expect to be able to do something. And they still hope to have a respectable
career ahead. And you may say, therefore, that their expectations
are higher than their counterparts, say, in Europe. SUNIL BERI: So 26%, or roughly around that
number of Hong Kong’s GDP comes from property, or property related things. And I think about 40% is from services. Could you highlight how that affects the career
prospects? And what type of industries are not there
that will give the younger generation the opportunities? JOSEPH CHENG: Most young people can get jobs
in the tertiary sector, which provides more than 90% of Hong Kong’s GDP. And they normally work in small businesses. Those who are most fortunate of course can
still get very respectable, very well-paid jobs in the financial sector, in the major
multinationals, and so on. But this doesn’t apply to ordinary young people. So they work in small businesses. They get $11- $12,000 in the beginning, and
gradually move up to about $20,000 or so. Very difficult to break the $30,000 Hong Kong
dollars [indiscernible]. And this at the same time is a bit frustrating
in that they still have to stay with their parents. They have no plan, or they cannot afford no
plan to acquire their own accommodation. They normally will save up, and go for a holiday
with their girlfriends, and boyfriends, and so on. SUNIL BERI: So staying with the career opportunities,
what about the technology sector, which is proposed by the government? And what about the government sector as a
source of employment? How will that work? One is on the cutting edge of technology,
the new age, new businesses, and the other one is more stable. What are the opportunities there? JOSEPH CHENG: Civil service jobs are considered
very stable, reliable, with career development paths, and therefore very much sought after
by ordinary people and young people. However, because the government is not expanding,
because of the population trends, because we have a rather mature economy- – so it is
more and more difficult for people to get tenured jobs within the civil service. It is considered rather fortunate if you can
become an executive officer and so on. And you may have to work on a contract basis
at least for free for two contracts at three years each before you can be considered for
a tenured position. And one’s expectations have gone down. So now you may have quite a number of university
graduates taking up clerical positions within the civil service, front line policemen positions
in the disciplinary forces, and so on, instead of aiming at officers in the civil service,
or police inspectors in the disciplinary forces, and so on. SUNIL BERI: So you touched on the last point,
about the demographics, so I want to talk to you about that. As we all know that you have falling expectations,
and career paths, real incomes especially for young the generation falling. And you also have an aging population, which
is a problem. Right now, I think it’s about 44 years average
age of Hong Kong. And then you have, it goes up to 48 in 2026. And I think at that time, about to 2030 I’m
not mistaken, there’s 30% of the population is at least 60 plus. So what has aging population done so far to
the incomes and the poverty? JOSEPH CHENG: On this point, Hong Kong is
similar to various places in East Asia. Aging population means more demand on Social
Security for services for the elderly, for housing and so on. But it also means that it also exposes the
fact that the government is making limited provisions for the elderly. And in fact, those elderly people with no
income now constitutes the bulk of the population living below the poverty line. On the streets, you may see old ladies collecting
waste paper and so on to add to their very limited incomes. And this is a very sad scene for a prosperous
city like Hong Kong, for an international financial center. So the frustration on the part of the young
people, the difficult situation of the aging people actually are calling for reorientation
of the government with regard to the Social Security policy. The administration usually follows the so-called
laissez-faire philosophy established by the British administration. And the central government in Beijing respects
this traditional philosophy. The government in Beijing, as well as the
establishment in Hong Kong, do not want to spend too much on Social Security, on social
services, despite the fact that we have a surplus budget almost every year. The idea is to respect the interests of the
investors because their money can leave Hong Kong very easily, very rapidly, given the
fact that we are an international financial center. So from Beijing’s point of view, from the
Hong Kong government’s point of view, they tend to put investors’ interests first. And that explains the accusation against government,
big business collusion on the part of ordinary people. And ordinary people certainly believe that
the government can certainly spend more. And Hong Kong people easily compares the public
housing, or the general housing conditions in the territory with that in, say, Singapore,
where people on public housing can still enjoy easily a public housing flat of 1,000 square
feet for a family of four. And a flat of that size is considered a very
luxurious flat in Hong Kong. SUNIL BERI: Yes. So in Hong Kong, everything above 700 square
feet is considered the luxury sector. So coming back, so you have a population basically,
the younger generation, who doesn’t see upward mobility. And then, when they go past their working
age population, of working age, they also see the older people. The older people living below poverty has
gone up 75% in the last 10 years in the last consensus. And although that number is like 530, it is
still challenging for a population of a city of 7.1 million. So if you are going to age properly, the population
is going to age faster now than it has ever done. We are probably ahead of China in terms of
the demographics time bomb. Is that a major problem? JOSEPH CHENG: That is a major problem in the
sense that the elderly people in Hong Kong tend to have to rely on their own savings. Traditionally of course, Chinese families
would like to rely on their younger members. But this is less and less so. In fact, in the past two or three decades,
very often the middle class parents have to provide, have to help their younger members
of the family despite the fact that they may be working on a full time basis. So this means that people have to save more. And the government has rejected the consideration
of a universal pension system for the elderly because it does not want to assume the responsibility. And four or five years ago, there were some
debates within the community– and the government, when Carrie Lam was actually the Chief Secretary
in charge of the policy. The government and Carrie Lam rejected any
demand for universal pension system, which is quite disappointing for the population. So for Hong Kong people, when they hear that
Carrie Lam administration wants to tackle important people’s livelihood issues, they
say, well, why shouldn’t we talk about this universal pension system? Or some universal medical insurance policy? These are the major issues– plus housing
facing the Hong Kong population. And certainly the Hong Kong people do not
feel, do not believe that the government has done enough. SUNIL BERI: All this has basically become
a powder keg, if you like, for all the social issues. So the Chinese government took over Hong Kong,
and maintain the one country, two systems policy, under which Hong Kong had a lot of
autonomy, and probably still does. Talk to us about how that has developed under
the various governments and leaders. And maybe talk about where the current state
of affairs started. Is it in February, when it was first introduced? Or is it a little bit further back? JOSEPH CHENG: Certainly, there are deep seated
issues. Today, as the Carrie Lam administration has
indicated, the basic nature of the crisis has changed in the sense that people are no
longer talking about the controversial piece of legislation which triggered the crisis. People in fact are asking, why is the government
not supporting, not considering our basic interests? And they certainly compare Hong Kong with,
say, Singapore, with Macau. And Hong Kong in fact has been falling behind
Singapore and Macau. And this is quite disappointing to Hong Kong
people. Very– SUNIL BERI: You mean in terms of the
political funding? Or economic? JOSEPH CHENG: I basically refer to the socioeconomic
conditions. But you did raise the issue of various administrations. Now very simply put, when Chief Tung served
as the first chief executive, he believed that he did not have to respond to the demands
of the pro-democracy movement because the basic law political system has been designed
in such a way that the establishment will have, will enjoy a safe majority in the legislative
council. And this safe majority will support the administration. So there’s no need to respond to the pro-democracy
parties. And then the second chief executive, Donald
Tsang, publicly talked about differential treatment of various parties, depending on
their level of support for his administration. Meaning that he was quite ready to distance
the administration from the pro-democracy camp. Then it was said that the third chief executive,
C.Y. Leung, privately described his relationship
with the pro-democracy camp as contradiction among enemies. And now certainly Carrie Lam has not been
responding to what people are demanding. And it is exactly this neglect of the pro-democracy
movement, which has been enjoying 55% of the votes in all direct elections to the legislature–
which is a major cause for the neglect of public opinion, for the arrogance of the administration
that is perceived by the people. And people also see that various checks and
balances mechanisms have been weakening. Given the fact that the government can, with
the support of a safe majority in the legislature, can actually pass any bill any time. And in fact, even the rules of procedure of
the legislature has been altered– so much so that there is almost no more opportunities
for filibustering and so on. And that explains this confidence on the part
of the Carrie Lam administration in getting the controversial extradition bill passed
before the crisis. SUNIL BERI: Let’s step back. Before this, we had another set of protests
in 2014, which lasted I think 12 or 13 weeks. Correct me if I’m wrong. JOSEPH CHENG: 79 days. SUNIL BERI: 79 days exactly. Sorry. And why did that start? And why did that end? Or did it take a pause at that point? JOSEPH CHENG: That started in 2013, when the
pro-democracy camp asked for the introduction of genuine democratic elections of the chief
executive, which was promised in 2007 by Beijing. Very briefly put, the Chinese authorities,
on August 31st, 2014, promised that Hong Kong people could elect their chief executive on
the basis of universal suffrage. But the pro-Beijing establishment would continue
to control the lists of candidates. And this was not accepted by the pro-democracy
movement. That triggered the Occupation campaign. And as a result, the relationship between
Beijing and ordinary people in Hong Kong, especially the pro-democracy movement, certainly
had been further alienated. And Beijing refused to discuss the issue of
democratization since then. And the issue of democratization remains one
of the five major demands on the part of the protesters in the recent months. SUNIL BERI: So that protest was called either
the Umbrella Movement or the Occupy Hong Kong. And it was primarily targeted around the legislature. And somehow, it died in November, if I’m not
mistaken, when they arrested most of the leaders. Is that a fair assumption? JOSEPH CHENG: More or less. Yeah. The Occupation campaign sort of evaporated. Because Hong Kong people lost interest in
it. And Hong Kong people did not believe that
the economy should be disrupted for such a long time. And that probably gave rise to the confidence
and arrogance of the Hong Kong government. The major impact on the part of the Chinese
authorities was that they reaffirmed their reading of the situation– that although Hong
Kong has returned to China, the hearts of Hong Kong people have not returned. And the various political measures have been
tightening. And although for several years after 2014,
the number of protests, or you may say the general situation of the pro-democracy movement
was such that it was not able to challenge the government. And the government misinterpreted this decline
on the part of the pro-democracy movement as political stability– SUNIL BERI: And validation
of their view, and managing of their economy, and the political process. Is that– JOSEPH CHENG: Exactly. And this explained this continuation of this
policy, this neglect of and lack of respect for various checks and balances mechanism. And actually, meanwhile, these dissatisfaction,
the anger– SUNIL BERI: Had been building. JOSEPH CHENG: –continued to accumulate, and
explaining, or giving rise to the protests from June to September this year. SUNIL BERI: In your view, was the 2014 protest
that lasted, is that because people have such high cost of living that they could not afford
to continue with those protests? Is that what the Beijing strategy is now as
well? Or rather, the current government, not the
Beijing. Apologies. But the current government outlook is that
if there is enough fatigue, that people will start to lose interest in the current protest
as well, just like it did in 2014. JOSEPH CHENG: With the benefit of hindsight,
I think most people in Hong Kong now understands that the Chinese authorities have no intention
of granting genuine democracy to Hong Kong any time. It believed that its economic support for
Hong Kong, and the fact that it was helping Hong Kong, facilitating Hong Kong to maintain
its prosperity meant that Hong Kong people should be satisfied with the status quo. That Hong Kong people should respect the parameters
of the one country, two systems model as defined by Beijing. And Hong Kong people should be taught a lesson
so that Hong Kong people would learn to respect and understand those parameters. This certainly has not been the case. And you see the anger on the part of Hong
Kong people, and especially among the young people. SUNIL BERI: So let me close the 2014. So in your view, was that an abject failure
of the protest? Or did we achieve something? Or did we just bury it under the carpet, or
pushed it under the carpet for a while? JOSEPH CHENG: The pro-democracy movement in
2013-2014 was in no position to convince Beijing, nor exert sufficient pressure on Beijing to
demand democracy. And to some extent, a considerable segment
of the Hong Kong population desired democracy, but refused to sacrifice for democracy. But they still want, however, they still want
the maintenance of the lifestyles, of the values that they cherish, especially the rule
of law. But in subsequent years, they see that even
this basic demand has not been able to be maintained. And they see this extradition bill introduced
in the beginning of this year as a flat to what they value– SUNIL BERI: And what they
feared. So now let’s go back to what the current situation
is, and how this current situation started. So obviously, everybody knows that, like stating
the obvious, when the bill was introduced, people objected to the way the bill was going
to get passed, and also what it meant. So maybe you could if you could spend two
minutes or so talking about what this actually bill means in practice. JOSEPH CHENG: As perceived by the community
in Hong Kong, the bill allowed the Chinese authorities to extradite Hong Kong people
for crimes committed in Hong Kong or outside Hong Kong to go to face trial in mainland
China. Now this certainly has not been acceptable
to Hong Kong people because they do not trust the judicial system in China. We understand that the courts in China have
to work under the leadership of the party, namely the party committees within the court
system actually guides the judges in adjudicating the cases. With regard to this, even the business community
was not happy. Even the business community could not accept
this amendment of the extradition bill. But certainly, the Carrie Lam administration
was able to seek the support of Beijing. And when the Chinese authorities indicated
support for the amendment of the legislation, various critical voices were silenced, especially
those within the establishment– namely the business community, some of the pro-Beijing
academics. They stopped their criticisms of the bill. And in fact, the Carrie Lam administration
at that point was certainly confident that the bill could have passed the legislature. SUNIL BERI: Is it about just moving to Beijing? Or is it about changing the due process of
Hong Kong for extradition? JOSEPH CHENG: The initial amendment meant
the possibility of Hong Kong people being extradited to China to face trial in China. But broadly interpreted, this certainly affects
Hong Kong people’s demand for a fair trial, which is a very core value of Hong Kong people. SUNIL BERI: I understand that. But my question here is that if the courts
are looking at the case, do they have to argue in Hong Kong court that there’s sufficient
grounds of extradition? Does that process still go on? Because this type of amendment has not been
needed for the last 22 years. JOSEPH CHENG: Yes. And it is generally understood that even when
Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, the Chinese authorities, and the administration at that
time did not believe that it was necessary nor desirable. Because Hong Kong people, including the local
and expatriate business community, did not have confidence in the judicial system in
mainland China. And this lack of confidence remains today,
and which is totally neglected by the Carrie Lam administration. SUNIL BERI: So if Carrie Lam really wanted
to, could she have passed it? From what you said before, that the due process
of passing this thing was not required. JOSEPH CHENG: We realized that after one billion
people marched in the streets on June 9th, the Carrie Lam administration in the same
evening indicated that the bill would go to the legislature according to schedule, and
that the contents of the piece of legislation would not be altered. Then the next day, the president of the legislative
council announced a timetable for the deliberations on the bill, and the bill was expected to
be passed in the legislature around about the 20th of June– because the establishment,
the Carrie Lam administration, and the pro-establishment legislatures believed they had the votes in
the legislature to do so. And it was actually on June the 12th, a Wednesday
after the Sunday protest march, that the young protesters marched in the streets, and surrounded
the legislative council, prevented the legislative council from holding its meeting– that the
process was stopped, leading to Carrie Lam administration’s announcement that the bill
would be shelved from being introduced into the legislature. SUNIL BERI: So just delayed. Or shelved. Because I want to go back, first of all, to
what drove the million people, or around about that number because there’s always a dispute
of that number, to come out. This was a very substantial number of protesters
coming out. What actually was a trigger? Why they wouldn’t come out in 2014, but they
came out this time? JOSEPH CHENG: They came out because they probably
felt that they had enough. And they could not accept that people in Hong
Kong could be extradited to mainland China to face trial. There was a certain feeling among many of
the protesters, including myself– I also took part in that. This was probably the last time they would
march in the streets. There was a certain sense of pessimism, that
they probably could not do much. But they still would like to go to the streets,
to march in the streets, to articulate their position, to articulate their opposition. That was very much a feeling of most people
marching on that Sunday. SUNIL BERI: They had almost given up, but
yet they wanted their voices– JOSEPH CHENG: They still wanted to articulate their stance,
to demonstrate their stance. SUNIL BERI: What happened on the 12th after
the young people came out? And that was not a small number either, but
nothing like a million. Did that end peacefully? Did that cause more problems? JOSEPH CHENG: On that Wednesday, there was
the first clash between the young protesters and the police, which was generally believed
to be quite unnecessary because the clash took place at around about 3:00 PM, 4:00 PM
in the afternoon. At that time, there was nothing urgent. The legislative council already announced
that there would be no meetings on Wednesday, nor on Thursday. And usually, the police did not have to do
anything. The police normally, even when trying to clear
the scene, would like to allow safe passage, at least for a certain period of time, 15
minutes, half an hour, for the protesters to withdraw peacefully. But instead, there was an attempt to surround,
round up the protesters. And the scene was chaotic and violent. And that opened up a whole series of rather
unpleasant and violent clashes between the protesters, usually young protesters, and
the police. And the clash and subsequent clashes gradually
exacerbated mutual hostility between the protesters and the police, leading to the present situation–
that police brutality has become a very serious issue in the resolution of the crisis at this
stage. SUNIL BERI: Now, I know you are pro-democratic. But I have to ask you to be a devil’s advocate,
and ask you to be as objective as possible from your point of view. Is there a collusion with foreign powers? Is there evidence to that, that might suggest
that there is some involvement? JOSEPH CHENG: Well, this question has been
raised by Western journalists in various press conferences held by the state council, and
the Chinese authorities. All the evidence that the Chinese authorities
have been able to produce are statements made by Western governments, and Western political
leaders in support of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement– as well as meetings between Western
government officials, Western political leaders with leaders of the protest movement, leaders
of the pro-democracy movement from Hong Kong. So these are– SUNIL BERI: You mean the likes
of Joshua Wong? JOSEPH CHENG: Yes. And Martin Lee, and so on. And these are certainly normal diplomatic
activities, which are being practiced by the Chinese authorities as well. SUNIL BERI: So we saw Joshua Wong, Martin
Lee, and lots of other people participate during the Occupy Central. But we don’t see them leading the protest
march, leading the thing. So how is this actually happening? Are they really the leaders? JOSEPH CHENG: There are no leaders of the
protests in the recent months, mainly because the traditional pro-democracy movement leaders
do not support violent protest activities. They still subscribe to the basic principle
of non-violent political struggles. However, many of the young protesters believe
that this is not enough– that further pressure has to be exerted on the government. And here in lies a basic difference between
the older generation, the mainstream pro-democracy groups, and the younger generation of protesters. However, it has been well demonstrated by
now that all these protests are organized or coordinated by messages on the internet. And there has been no– and these protesters
have made it plain that they want no leadership, they want no formal organizations, and they
would behave like water, deep water. And they believe that this mode of operation
probably suits them best. SUNIL BERI: Right. Beijing has called it the Color Revolution,
in an effort to throw. Could you comment on that? Is that the right label? JOSEPH CHENG: This probably is not the right
label because– for the vast, vast majority of Hong Kong people, and even the young protesters,
they too would not desire the overthrow of the Chinese Communist regime in Beijing, nor
the Hong Kong government in Hong Kong. They just want democratization. They want the right to protest. And you may say that 99% of the Hong Kong
people understand very well that independence is not a practical option. And there is no desire on the part of Hong
Kong people to flatten the Chinese regime in Beijing, nor to endanger China’s security,
to challenge China’s territorial integrity, China’s sovereignty, and so on. To put it in very simple terms, the bulk of
the Hong Kong population simply want to be left alone, and not to suffer from interference,
as in Beijing. To have democracy, if possible. So at least to maintain their lifestyles,
and their values– SUNIL BERI: You just answered my next question, which was going to be, is
this movement about challenging the China authority? Which is what the China press, and the mouthpieces
have said. And is it about independence? Which obviously, you have categorically said,
this is not the case. There were two other events, one event, both
took place on the 21st of July. One was the attacking of the liaison officer,
China liaison officer, on Hong Kong side. And the other one was that same evening, some
of the mobs, which was called the white shirt mobs, attacked some of the commuters and the
protesters in Yuen Long. Could you talk about that? And why that was important? To me, that was that some of the turning points,
both from the China side, and also from the protesters side. JOSEPH CHENG: On that crucial evening, some
protesters approach the China liaison office building near the Central District. And they certainly threw ink, and eggs at
the building, including the National Insignia, which was very much highlighted by the Chinese
official media as an insult to China’s sovereignty. This certainly should not have been done from
my point of view. This unnecessarily and disrespectfully challenged
the Chinese authorities. This should not have been done. But at the same time, one easily noticed that
the office building was not guarded. And under normal circumstances, there were
anti-riot police there preventing people from approaching the building, preventing people
from moving that close to the entrance of the building. But on that evening, that didn’t happened. Protesters could move right in front of the
building, which was– SUNIL BERI: When you say there was no– JOSEPH CHENG: Surprising. SUNIL BERI: –was that because of logistics,
that police couldn’t get on time? Or do you think that they were just not prepared? Or just willingly not there? JOSEPH CHENG: Subsequent explanations from
the police was a matter of logistics. They could not bring in policemen that soon. But that appear to be quite absurd. That was a very, very important location. When protest activities took place 10 minutes
walk from the building, obviously, the police should have been there to protect the building. SUNIL BERI: So you mean, there is a police
station next to it? Or close by? JOSEPH CHENG: There were police stations rather
close by. But the centralized office building has always
been an important point for the police to guard against protest activities. Then we go back to what happened in Yuen Long,
on the same evening. That caused a lot, a lot of anger on the part
of Hong Kong people, because apparently the Triads, the gangsters were involved. They were mobilized to attack the protesters
when they were returning home. So there were no protest activities in Yuen
Long– a rather distant new territories, new town. And it was unacceptable, certainly, that the
Triads, gangsters were mobilized, attacking these young people, these young protesters
when they were returning home very late in the evening. And worse still, it did not appear that the
police came to protect ordinary citizens, the protesters, and so on in this clash, giving
rise to another type of conspiracy theory– namely that the gangsters had been mobilized,
had been bought by the pro-Beijing united front. And at the same time, there was collusion
between the police and these gangsters. SUNIL BERI: So let’s go back, and talk about
the five demands that the protesters have. And probably end this section, and then move
on to the next section of– what are the possible outcomes from here? So first one was the withdrawal, which has
been done. JOSEPH CHENG: Yes. SUNIL BERI: The second one– JOSEPH CHENG:
After some delays. SUNIL BERI: Lots of delays. Then the second one is the independent inquiry. The third one is? JOSEPH CHENG: The labeling, or defining the
nature of the protest activities as riots. SUNIL BERI: Right. Which carries a heavier sentence. And the release– JOSEPH CHENG: –of the protesters. SUNIL BERI: OK. So these are the demands. Right? Have I missed anything? JOSEPH CHENG: Plus the resignation of Carrie
Lam, and the introduction of democratic elections. SUNIL BERI: Correct. OK. So now let’s go forward a bit. And maybe you could cover some of the outcomes
we don’t know– nobody knows that this is the outcome that is going to be the be all
and end all. So maybe we can discuss, starting with the
best case, and moving on to the more contentious possible outcomes. JOSEPH CHENG: The best case scenario, probably,
is the resignation of Carrie Lam. In fact, the most recent opinion poll indicated
that up to 65% of the respondents would like her to go. If she goes, there will be a new chief executive,
a new team, administrators, and so on. And hopefully, this new team will be able
to establish a respected independent commission of inquiry, thus generating the beginning
of the reconciliation process. But it seems to be rather unlikely given the
orientations of Beijing. Then the second scenario, probably, will be
the continuation of what has been happening. And given time, the protest activities will
subside because people get tired. And there are district council elections to
be held in November. And given the pro-democracy movement would
like some peaceful environment for the conduct of the election campaigns. So this will be the second best. But we have to realize that the anger remains. SUNIL BERI: So in that case, if it do subsides,
so we’re just pushing back the solution, or the next steps to election day. JOSEPH CHENG: Exactly. It simply means that, for the time being,
no more weekly protest activities. People may go back to their normal life, and
so on. But the problem remains unresolved. SUNIL BERI: So let’s go to the more contentious,
starting with number three. JOSEPH CHENG: Then, if the protest activities
continue, then the government may be tempted to introduce the emergency regulations ordinance–
which was an old ordinance established in 1922, in those days. This will give the government very widespread
powers to arrest protesters, to denying them habeas corpus, to close down media, and so
on. And this is unfortunate. And this has been objected even by the business
community, because they certainly do not want any serious disruptions of the economy. SUNIL BERI: Under this ordinance, basically,
the government can’t pass piecemeal, so they have to pass the entire ordinance– which
not only the issues that you say, detain people, suspend habeas corpus, but they can also cut
down the ports, cut travel, cut communications, and put restrictions on press. JOSEPH CHENG: Yes. This is a very old fashioned, traditional
piece of emergency decree, established in 1922. So the chief executive today, with the concurrence
and support of her executive council, can implement, can introduce and implement this
piece of legislation. And this will give her administration tremendous
powers. Although she may, to be fair, her administration
may choose to exercise those powers with considerable restraint. SUNIL BERI: Absolutely. So this has been used only once in Hong Kong’s
history. JOSEPH CHENG: In 1967. SUNIL BERI: During the 1967 riots. Let’s go forward a little bit more. Let me ask you, what is the other contentious
option? Because Beijing has always said that under
the basic law, it can intervene at the request of the current administration. Or if it feels fit, if the security, or national
security of China is threatened. JOSEPH CHENG: The worst case scenario in the
coming weeks may well be, unfortunately, the death of a police officer, or the death of
some protesters at the hands of the police. This will arouse tremendous anger on either
parties, or both parties. And then maybe even the People’s Liberation
Army will be mobilized, and so on. And this is most unfortunate. I do believe that the Chinese authorities
at this stage fully understand the undesirability of bringing in the People’s Liberation Army,
which is very costly– not only for Hong Kong, the negative impact on its reputation, and
its functioning as an international financial, and so on. And it is very bad for China because it spells
the failure of its policy towards Hong Kong. It means the end of the one country, two systems
model. And it may trigger condemnation, and maybe
even sanctions from the United States, and other Western governments. This would definitely have a very bad impact
on China’s policy towards Taiwan, which is going to have its presidential election in
January next year. SUNIL BERI: So last question. First of all, the PLA already has six garrisons,
or seven garrisons. JOSEPH CHENG: It has its garrisons in Hong
Kong. SUNIL BERI: So it doesn’t need to roll in. JOSEPH CHENG: No. No. And there are regulations stipulated, established
already for its mobilization and deployment. SUNIL BERI: OK. Then the last question is that– is that meant
to end? China’s assertion is that their intervention
does not end the one country, two systems. JOSEPH CHENG: It has promised so. SUNIL BERI: But you said– JOSEPH CHENG: It
has promised so. SUNIL BERI: Yeah. JOSEPH CHENG: It has indicate– the Chinese
authorities, as well as the pro-Beijing, united front leaders have indicated that even the
mobilization of the People’s Liberation Army does not mean the end of one country, two
systems model. But perception certainly will work to the
contrary. And I think a lot of capital will leave Hong
Kong. And a lot of Hong Kong people will actively
think of emigration as well. SUNIL BERI: Right. And I had one more question. When you mentioned about mobility of the Hong
Kong people, there’s 7.1 million people population. How many have foreign passports? And how many foreigners are staying in Hong
Kong? JOSEPH CHENG: It has been estimated by various
consulates generally in Hong Kong, like those of United States, Australia, UK, Canada, and
so on. And very roughly, probably over one million
people may well have foreign passports already, given the fact that passports can be secured
for your children and grandchildren as well– for those who acquired their foreign passports
in the 1980’s and beyond. And there are foreign residents, foreign nationals
living in Hong Kong. So that’s 1.3, 1.5 million according to various
estimates. And to a large extent, this is the cream of
the community. SUNIL BERI: Right. So the middle class, the– JOSEPH CHENG: Professionals,
and so on. SUNIL BERI: We don’t know how that thing has
gone. But what I think I’d like to end is to say,
thank you. But honestly, for me, it has raised more questions
than it has answered. I do appreciate your answers, but I think
it has– because it’s not binary. The solution is not going to be binary. The outcomes are not going to be binary. So we have to watch of how this develops. JOSEPH CHENG: We have no answers just yet. We can only keep our fingers crossed. Thank you for the opportunity. SUNIL BERI: Thank you. Thank you very much.

62 thoughts on “An Inside Look into the Hong Kong Protests & Uprising (w/ Joseph Cheng)

  • Real Vision Finance Post author

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  • Em Christobal Post author

    Time to get serious

    Time to call Pai Mei

  • Eugene Hausenfus Post author

    Interview Cardinal Zen

  • Denali Denali Post author

    Why would anyone be surprised? You're talking about a communist regime that has no interest in Liberty or prosperity of the people who sit outside of the Chinese Communist Party; everything for the State…..State before family….
    No surprise. China , communism cloaked in modern day capitalism to advance the communist agenda WORLDWIDE

  • Kenyon Scales Post author

    At least this wasn't filmed 2 years ago … They're getting better

  • Minh Loung Post author

    The truth side of all youngsters of HongKong have to face day in and day out.
    The economical, and political suppression’s phenomenon by communist of China, and its puppets government in HongKong are the root cause in HongKong today!!!

  • Kyle Duncan Post author

    Very interesting topic but the ruined by the interviewer who is absolutely useless. Less charisma than a roll of toilet paper.

  • substring zero Post author

    This video is almost a month and a half old, and things have already changed drastically. This should have been published earlier in a more timely manner.

  • Stock Market Investing Post author

    Things are escalating not de-escalating

  • jerry daniel Post author

    Long live CCP fathers qualifications protections value for China 🙏🙏 🙏🙏 🙏🙏 🙏🙏 🙏🙏 🙏🙏 🙏

    Fights the 👹👹👹👹👹👹👹👹👹👹👹👹👹👹👹👹

  • Pertama Trading Post author

    Singapore is facing the same issues: graduates are mostly jobless, PMETs has no chance at jobs due to CECA, janitors having meagre salaries of less than $1000 per month.

    Majority of locals are driving for Grab and other private hire companies.

  • gonda g Post author

    It's not about the money. It's about ideology. HK does not want CCP leadership (Carrie Lam is an example), simply want to retain autonomy.

  • Rick Fearn Post author

    Excellent analysis. Provides a perspective on this sad situation to both sides. Thanks to both of you!

  • Peter West Post author

    The problem is not employment, it’s the (artificially inflated cost of living) which must be called-out; China 🇨🇳 has purchased RE creating a sellers market and driving up all RE sales and rentals (perceived higher value) which amounts to “economic evictions”— we saw it in Chicago; L . A ., Atlanta, etc /// I feel that it’s a backup plan to remove some of the (voices) opposition to China’s take over in a few more years…

  • Minh Loung Post author

    At the end I can conclude that HONGKONGERS are just want to BE LEFT ALONE!!! Is that too much to ask for???

  • mark o Post author

    I have a idea lets accept all the Hong Kong people into America. And send all of bernie sanders voters over there as a trade . O yea let’s through aoc in the mix just for fun lets get it done.

  • AIF Ant Farm Post author

    Since this interview its gone from bad to worse… Much worse.

  • yesman mola Post author

    Freedom is not free

  • Hu Hi Post author

    Excellent interview, great insights and background knowledge.

  • SmaCk You d1cK Post author

    who ever support this kind Terrorist movement by destroying the city is an animal and born catholic.

  • David Chorak Post author

    Sure there’s foreign influence. The CCP mafia is the foreign influence.

  • beo wulf Post author

    MAINLAND CHINA IS BROKE, BORROWING 400-850BIL FROM HSBC, THE WANT/NEED HONG KONGS WEALTH

    LAM IS A MAINLAND MOAIST MEAT PUPPET … THE CURRENT HONG KONG POLICE ARE PARAMILITARY THUGS

  • timergooff Post author

    if the HK protesters have a leader that can articulate as clearly as Dr. Cheng, they would have a much better chance of improved lives – now all the destructions seem to be all for nothing

  • Ace Hardy Post author

    👑

  • kwokchor Post author

    This is a spokesman from the government camp. He is reiterating Beijing's line that everything its because of economic inequality. If you look at the 5 demands from the protesters, there is NONE related to economics/money. The demands have been 1. Complete withdrawal of the extradition bill from the legislative process, 2. Retraction of the "riot" characterisation, 3. Release and exoneration of arrested protesters, 4. Establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into police conduct and use of force during the protests, 5. Implement universal suffrage. And by the way universal suffrage was a promise Beijing made to Hong Kong in our Basic Law.

  • Walt Kuznicke Post author

    This is like unfortunately watching a very serious auto accident in slow motion. This like Tinamin Square will end very badly. The protesters have no guns, wouldn't make a difference, and should ALL leave now, on the next boat out, but they won't just as the valient participants at the Alamo should also have left early. The King of China just spoke, that's a very bad sign kids, your in so way over your head idealism taunting, as these authority man gods don't EVER speak twice. Ask the Buddist monks they slaughtered, and they were religious monks.

  • Mommy Lou Post author

    The problem HK is facing today are due to the incompetencies and sheer intentional shelving of the symptoms of societal illnesses by the government that has plague HK after the handover to China.

  • next channel next Post author

    Is the ccp favoring the widening of the gap between wealthy and those lower? Is it reasonable to assume yes?

  • Emma Post author

    5 demands!

  • 孟鹏 Post author

    我一开始就觉得不对,这个垃圾的屁股完全是坐在北京那边卧槽。人家香港民众什么时候说是反抗财富分配不公,要有房住啥的,人家是为了追求民主自由,要你共产党信守承诺,不要强奸香港。
    Warning!!dear fellow Americans audience,this so-called professor invented in the video is garbage!!he loves ccp!! Hong Kong people don’t Demond for money and house,they want freedom and democracy,they want ccp keep their promise that’s automatically 50years.this awful interview is totally wrong .please do not be cheated.

  • Elizaeth Mortensen Post author

    Thank you

  • yodaflyz Post author

    Glad I don't live in Hong Kong. If I did, I'd want to leave all of China & never look back.

  • _ L Post author

    tl;dr China still fears democracy.

  • WINNIE-the- POOH diplomacy Post author

    IMPOSE TOTAL ECONOMIC SANCTION ON COMMUNIST CHINA NOW !!!

  • Francesco Gatti Post author

    to avoid violence protesters can just change their money into bitcoin
    and government will be immediately enslaved by its citizens

  • Master Nodes Post author

    Most food in HK is imported from MLC. When food shortages start next year from Grand Solar Minimum most countries will stop exports. Hong Kong is at risk in this situation.

  • L N Post author

    This is a massive opportunity for the Chinese government live up to its ambitions of prosperity, and for China to take its place on the world stage of “humanity”.
    All governments need to do this, America included!
    Let’s not forget, China has (according to the world bank) lifted 850m people out of extreme poverty ($1.90 per day)! since 1981. A massive achievement.
    Let’s also not forget how difficult it must be to keep the rule of law for over a Bn people.
    Please China, do not waste this opportunity to do the right thing for the human race.
    People are no longer looking to the west as a model of prosperity for all, its clear that democracy in the west has failed also.
    Now is the time to take stock globally and move forward as a human race.
    Please do not miss the opportunity.
    ✌️🌅

  • L N Post author

    Very impressed by Professor Cheng.
    Thank you for this excellent insight.
    I can feel the Zen coming from him.
    ✌️🌅

  • lapinchiloca Post author

    HK is simply the most awesome city in the whole planet, and it is in everyone's benefit that it remains so.

  • emergerq Post author

    High property prices are always a terrible thing. HK prices have doubled in less then 10 years, yet real salaries have actually reduced over that period. It's not rocket science but this is a real issue around the world. London, new York, San fran, Sydney etc. Every single person in the modern world particularly in 1st world countries are entitled to affordable housing. This is a basic human need. Shelter is basic. When we were cave men we had to have shelter. Failed/ incompetent governments do not ensure basic needs are met. P.S nothing respectable about working in finance . Nothing at all as he likes to emphasize. HK is very traditional and many people still believe that working for a large corporate or financial institution gives them status. Of course it doesn't. You have laugh, so stereotypical Asian.

  • 281albertso Post author

    Regret to see those so-called free hongkong rioters keep damage hongkong and non-human action time to time blaming this is because of hongkong/china government on some minor issues ( trying to make small trouble big) in order to fit in their selfish benefit. Well, believe they will pay one day soon or later… looks quite close to the time they have to pay back ^^

  • Destiny tran Post author

    I am praying for HK people winning this battle.

  • Destiny tran Post author

    I understand how they feel. The Chinese communist people are buying up property everywhere in the world and drive up price. Local people can’t compete as they are not millionaire.

  • L L Post author

    @Real Vision Finance

    I signed up yesterday but there's no $1 option, I had to pay $19.99 for one month… can you clarify?

  • Adrian Tiong Post author

    Thanks Prof, was trying to understand from HKer perspective the genesis of the protest

  • 00rphb Post author

    Once China really starts to crack down on Hong Kong, it will look less like New York and more like Berlin 1945

  • Don ta Post author

    The World belongs to the people but not belongs to any dictators or tyrant commie regimes..

  • Vicky Wu Post author

    the commiez wants run the hongkong stock market after hk recession lmao

  • morthim Post author

    This seems inconsistent with all other vids on the topic. Inc all interviews.

  • beo wulf Post author

    MAINLAND CHINA IS BROKE, BORROWING 400-850BIL FROM HSBC, THE WANT/NEED HONG KONGS WEALTH

    LAM IS A MAINLAND MOAIST MEAT PUPPET … THE CURRENT HONG KONG POLICE ARE PARAMILITARY THUGS

    NEVER GIVE UP NEVER GIVE IN … THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD ARE WATCHING AND ARE WITH YOU!

  • Mike Fleming Post author

    Asking for democracy is by definition a threat to communist regimes. What are elections if not peaceful changes of power?

  • Riding Home Post author

    As a lifelong civil servant, Carrie Lam, HK current Chief Executive, never paid for a rent. Senior civil servants are one of the best paid in the world, but they ain't the smartest. They can't possibly understand the great divide that separates the haves and have-nots. The super wealthy tycoons ignore the pains of the locals and kowtow to the CCP to safeguard their assents and billions.

  • jiman dont know Post author

    According to HK Laws the offence which was occurring on campus, namely, making or keeping an explosive substance with intent to endanger life, contrary to section 54 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap 200), is punishable with 20 years’ imprisonment. the people who caused explosions likely to endanger the police officers by throwing petrol bombs, they are now liable, under section 53 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap 200), to life imprisonment

  • Rick Sanchez Post author

    This is an excellent channel, I watch all the time. I guess I should be commenting more to boost the algorithm. Great information, thanks.

  • Matthew Sheeran Post author

    Quality insightful stuff from one of HKs eminent democracy statesmen! Ooh BTW: Lackey Lam is a Bejing arse licker! There is just no other polite way to put this accurately!!

  • Man-Ho Chu Post author

    1:18 neglect
    10:31 monthly career
    30:05 threat
    41:14 be water
    45:44 central liaison office

  • Termi Nation Post author

    Boycott China.
    Find whatever you need to buy from some other country. Samsung moved their smart phone manufacturing to Vietnam. Buy Samsung instead of those companies in China… encouraging other companies in China to do the same thing and leave. We need to stop financing those Beijing Communist Party despot monsters. If I were President USA I'd kick China off the SWIFT banking system, default on any money we owe them, and militarily embargo their asses not letting anything so much as a phone call in or out till they capitulate to individual civil liberties for all their citizens.

  • Sean Zhou Post author

    Democracy is such a hype… it is a convenient excuse when UK/US try to rob another country with rich resource… HK is important to China as a testbed, that is why hijack is happening… Where is the role model of democracy? popular-ism based Trump? or everyone voted Brexit?… The only issue in HK is housing problem, other things are world class for many years…blame the right thing…and change it.

  • David Chorak Post author

    Hong Kong is the 300 Spartans who fought a million man army to defend democracy and won. Support Hong Kong make your voice heard. Fight CCP mafia.

  • Kit Poomviset Post author

    I like the way he says “Nee-glek”

  • SpaghettiandSauce Post author

    I doubt they will prevail – but I really do wish the brave Hong Kong protestors every success in their struggle against tyranny.

  • sstchan924 Post author

    One country two systems works as it was designed on the part of China. Other than the list of candidates for chief executive must be approved by CCP, the real power in HK rests on the local wealthy landlords and financiers. The running of HK has nothing to do with China. Even if there is universal suffrage the Lasse faire capitalism as practiced in HK by the local financial powers will not improve the the dismal blight or future job prospects for the younger general. We see the same situation in democratic America now, high Gini coefficient, job loss and even rampant homelessness. Many young employed are still living with their parents. The anger of the protester turned rioters are misdirected and supported by foreigners agitators whose aim is not to help them but to destabilize HK as international financial center. The future of HK college graduates is bleak unless they begin to accept the fact that HK is part of China whose students and graduates are more optimistic for their future.

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