Hong Kong

Hong Kong Protesters Use Umbrellas, Lasers, and Respirators to Evade Surveillance and Tear Gas

As Beijing develops a high-tech police state, Hongkongers develop ways to resist it.

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Protesters in Hong Kong began a three-day occupation of the city's Chek Lap Kok airport's arrivals hall today. The Chinese city is now nearing its tenth consecutive week of protests, with enraged Hongkongers engaging in various forms of civil disobedience since their legislature introduced a bill which would have allowed both Taiwan and mainland China to extradite people from the city.

This isn't the first time Hongkongers have mobilized en masse to protest the mainland's influence. Significant protests took place in 2003 and 2014, along the same themes—protesting encroachment on Hong Kong's autonomy and the potential erosions of the city's civil liberties. But this current rebellion has reached an intensity unmatched by its predecessors.

Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, when London gave it back to Beijing. Though it is formally a part of China, it is considered a semi-autonomous region under the "one country, two systems" policy, which allows Hongkongers rights similar to those protected by our First Amendment. It also gives them the right to elect legislators—though not the chief executive, who is picked by a committee and approved by the mainland government. The "one country, two systems" deal is set to expire in 2047, and Hong Kong is supposed to fully become a part of China. Measures like the extradition bill have some Hongkongers worried that they're heading for a premature absorption.

Over the past few months, protesters have refined their tactics in inventive and effective ways:

Avoiding Surveillance

Street protesters have found cunning ways to avoid police surveillance. By using umbrellas to shield identifying features from CCTV cameras—and in some cases using lasers, to fully derail image-capturing abilities—they have kept themselves safer from retribution.

Anticipating Suppression

The protesters know to expect tear gas and have developed systems for dealing with tear gas shells. They place traffic cones over them, so the fumes can't disseminate too widely. Then people swoop in to pour water through the traffic cone holes, so shells can be snuffed out. Sometimes wet towels are applied directly when cones can't be located.

In case a shell can't be suppressed, protesters come prepared with masks and eye protection. This way tear gas can't catch them off guard, and protesters can keep going for longer.

Communicating with Each Other

Hongkongers have taken to using hand signals to spread word amidst the chaos, making it easier to distribute such gear as helmets, scissors, and umbrellas. The hand signs are specific and easy to spot.

"One of the greatest risks of injury or death in a crowd arises from the dangers of a stampede," notes Antony Dapiran, a Hong Kong-based journalist writing in the New Statesman:

When police fire tear gas into tightly-packed crowds, or the rapid-response 'Raptor' police teams launch one of their lightning baton charges, the risk of the crowd panicking—and a stampede forming—is acute.  Aware of these risks, crowds of protesters chant 'One, Two, One Two…' in unison as they retreat, and march in time to the count. This ensures the retreat is orderly and avoids what could otherwise become a deadly crush.

Communicating with Everyone Else

Protesting in the airport makes sense from an optics standpoint. It means it's easier for foreign visitors to capture footage of protests—and of any repression of the protests that might happen too.

It's also an opportunity for protesters to educate outsiders on the Hongkongers' struggle. From pamphlets and signs written in multiple foreign languages to creative boarding passes with inspirational slogans on them, protesters are working hard to inform travelers about their plight.

As authoritarian governments learn from China's ever more refined and encroaching systems of surveillance, censorship, and repression, Hongkongers are showing us ways the state's methods can be smartly defied. The rest of us can learn a thing or two from their techniques.

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  1. What do you think China would do if Hong Kong declared independence?

    1. The same thing they’re going to do to Hong Kong if they don’t declare independence. China doesn’t play the “optics” game, they will stomp Hong Kong like a bug because they know nobody is going to stop them and 5 or 10 or 20 or 50 years down the road, nobody’s going to care.

      Mao is not considered a national disgrace and a national shame over there. Imagine a Germany where Hitler was still honored and respected the way we honor and respect Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln. You think they’d give a shit if somebody wants to complain about killing a few hundred thousand criminal malcontents and social saboteurs threatening the government and the culture and the society? They’re just taking out the trash and exterminating some cockroaches as far as they’re concerned.

      1. I don’t doubt it necessarily but don’t you think a plea to the West, namely the United States, would give Hong Kong at least some agency? Could China really just occupy Hong Kong in such a globalized world?

        1. 1. What, short of war, could the US do? Impose tariffs?
          2. China would have overrun Taiwan of it weren’t for that pesky straight and a lack of sealift capability.

          So yes, China could, and if necessary will, ‘just’ occupy Hong Kong.

          1. Even though the US is not bound by a treaty anymore to help defend Taiwan, I believe invasion of Taiwan would be met with US military assistance, which might well lead to war with China. So China will probably not invade Taiwan.

            1. Bull. 2047 the tanks will roll, and Hong Kong will be assimilated. What we should do is smuggle them arms for the next 28 years, and send in some professionals ro help them organize and hide the arms until needed.

              1. And the instant that the smuggling is detected, the tanks roll.

            2. Chipper, are you over the age of 20?
              I have a hard time believing that level of stupidity is from an adult.

        2. Yes, I really think China could and will.

          You look at African dictators who regularly imprison or murder their political opponents and loot the government for millions or billions and boast of winning 99.9% of the vote – and yet they’re still politely treated by the international community as the legitimate rulers of the country instead of the murderous thieving crooks that they are. Because the international community is too “polite” to draw attention to the fact that they’re acting like a bunch of savages. And it’s the same thing with China, they know there’ll be some “stern warnings” and possibly even some “harsh rhetoric” but nobody’s going to do anything to stop them or punish them. At best, the international community can handle somebody farting at the dinner table, when you jump up on the buffet and take a shit in the lasagna pan, nobody knows how to deal with that so they just politely look away and pretend it’s not happening.

          1. “And it’s the same thing with China, they know there’ll be some “stern warnings” and possibly even some “harsh rhetoric” but nobody’s going to do anything to stop them or punish them. “

            “Was that wrong? Should I have not done that?” And then, back to business as usual.

        3. The US is so far the least ‘supportive’ Western power re these protests. Not that there’s much anyone could or should do. But in a situation where only words matter, the US has basically abdicated whatever ‘principles’ we used to have on this stuff and have already agreed with the ultimate rationale that China will use when it cracks down

          1. What are you talking about? The US helped engineer these protests.

            1. Since when? Seemed to be pretty organic to me

            2. Chipper Morning Wood
              August.9.2019 at 8:32 pm
              “What are you talking about? The US helped engineer these protests.”
              Bull
              .
              .
              .
              shit.
              But you’re good at that. In fact, do you do anything else?

            3. Trump has already thrown Hong Kong under the bus.

              https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1157025123511283712

              “Somebody said that at some point they are going to want to stop [the riots]. But that’s between Hong Kong and that’s between China, because Hong Kong is a part of China … they don’t need advice.”

        4. Remember tank guy at Tiananmen Square? How many people died there? How many people remember now?

          1. I remember. I still have the front page photo of that guy that 17(?) yr old me cut out for inspiration.

        5. The exact same reaction to Venezuelan starvation. The masterminds at Vox *explained the news* that the economic collapse in VZ was due to oil prices, (no mention of communism and PRC’s strong-arm in that economy). Reason posted last week on the Labor party in Britain as “moderate” left. Labor in Britain has supported Hugo Chavez from the beginning- -communist dictators are now “moderate” – -you can’t make this shit up.

    2. Looks like cops are basically the same in China as they are here in the states.

      1. Authority — more precisely, authoritarians — are EVERYwhere.

  2. Very impressive and effective protest tactics.

  3. Makes me proud to be human. Makes me believe in spontaneous organization all the more.

  4. Chek Lap Kok

    Yep. Still there.

  5. Heroic! I wish these people the best. I hope they prevail. Fuck dictatorships!

  6. So, on the one hand i feel for the protesters and hope they succeed. But on the other isn’t trump’s reaction on this issue the “proper” libertarian response which is “not our circus, not our monkeys, no need to start shit over it”?

    1. What is libertarian about that?

      The “proper” “libertarian” response is to do whatever you want, as long as you don’t hurt others or steal their stuff.

      Libertarianism says nothing about never helping anybody. Society is formed by spontaneous voluntary organization, no matter how temporary or long-lasting, whether mutually agreed or all one-sided. Ever picked up a package someone dropped and given it back? Congratulations, spontaneous altruism! Did you hurt anybody, steal anybody’s stuff? Nope. About as libertarian as you can get.

      1. Honest benevolence and altruism do not even intersect on a Venn Diagram.

    2. darkflame
      August.9.2019 at 8:56 pm
      “So, on the one hand i feel for the protesters and hope they succeed. But on the other isn’t trump’s reaction on this issue the “proper” libertarian response which is “not our circus, not our monkeys, no need to start shit over it”?”

      Good to know your posts are some pathetic whining.
      Fuck off.

  7. Nothing but respect for these protesters. Here’s hoping they can be such a thorn in the side that Beijing will decide it’s not worth the hassles and leave Hong Kong alone.

  8. Two questions:
    1) Why is Taiwan, the Republic of China, the non-communist Chinese government-in-exile, be a party to this treaty?
    2) Why are they using all those anti-facial recognition technology measures? I mean, they all look the same.

    1. When Communist China says Taipei, they mean China as the breakaway Chinese territory of Taiwan.

      This is not a way for the Communist Chinese Government to help Taiwan. Its a legal way to public announce Taiwan is still part of the People’s Republic of China.

  9. I thought the extradition law had been withdrawn. Since that was the objective of the protesters, why didn’t they celebrate their victory and stop the protests? It feels like they are courting disaster by continuing, I hope I am wrong.
    And how can extradition to Taiwan be part of the proposed law? That would mean recognizing Taiwan’s government as a legitimate government, would it not? I am amazed that Hong Kong, which is after all officially part of the People’s Republic, could do that.

    1. Not withdrawn; just suspended. It could be revived with a phone call to someone with a pen.

  10. But just wait until the Chinese government declares war on them! What are they going to do, when China attacks with thanks and planes, and nuclear bombs?

    That’s why the 2A for arms to resist the state just doesn’t make sense.

    1. As Joe Biden said, you need at least an F-15 to resist a tyrannical government.

      1. Of course. That’s why the Iraq and Afghan wars were won so quickly and thoroughly.

        Oh, wait….

    2. The 2A protects state keeping and bearing of nuclear weapons. That was one of the stumbling blocks that ended SALT and other Freeze & Surrender proposals exported by Soviet communism. Hong Kong might purchase some from Taiwan should the need arise. The distances are so small that the mere thought of nuclear artillery shells, and cruise missiles are already a deterrent. Those weapons were designed to dismantle socialist States.

  11. I bet the Chinese government will bring in the troops and go for blood. They can not afford to have a successful defiance to their government or it could go into a full civil war on them with the communist on the losing side very fast. Their are a lot of protest against the government in China that goes unreported and kept silence by Beijing. Plus their good reason’s why such a loved government has all those cameras on the citizens that love them so well. In short Beijing with it’s corrupt military cannot afford to look so weak against Hong Kong, or allowed the protesters their start to organize and unite with protester else where.

  12. The protesters know to expect tear gas and have developed systems for dealing with tear gas shells. They place traffic cones over them, so the fumes can’t disseminate too widely. Then people swoop in to pour water through the traffic cone holes, so shells can be snuffed out. Sometimes wet towels are applied directly when cones can’t be located.

    In case a shell can’t be suppressed, protesters come prepared with masks and eye protection. This way tear gas can’t catch them off guard, and protesters can keep going for longer.

    Expect to see the same tactics employed at riots in this country.

  13. The sign on the guy’s back – Welcome to Hong Kong – A city run by police and gangsters.

    That sign could be reused for most cities.

    1. Not unless the city’s name is Hong Kong.

  14. Tony Judt, “Post War”:
    The USSR collapsed when the soldiers simply decided they would not run tanks over their neighbors.
    In ’89, I happened to be in a breakfast joint (business) in Orange County and saw the ‘tank man’ on TV, and read the result the next day. No tears, but close to it.
    I don’t think the Chi Coms are going to get away with that again, but the pathetic PoS Hihn may well show up here and tell us how the government is right to keep people from defending themselves.

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  16. This is the country to which Reason believes we should hock our sovereignty.

  17. OT:
    Jeff Epstein found dead in his cell this morning, to nobody’s surprise and despite 24/7 suicide watch monitoring

    1. +100

      The trolls got upset when I posted some OT links for Weekend (((t)))reason Roundup.

    2. Many powerful, politically connected men are no doubt shocked (shocked!) at such a sudden event.

    3. The Clinton machine is relieved on this weekend morning.

    4. I generally take a dim view of conspiracy theories, but in this case I wouldn’t dismiss one out of hand…

  18. Somebody tell Liz Hong Kong was a Chinese island for centuries before British & Indian warships bombarded and burned coastal cities to repeal local prohibition on opium. After that, Occupied Hong Kong became an emporium for Lutheran brainwashing of Taeping mystics who plunged the empire into bloody, no-prisoners, civil warfare before Lincoln was even elected. The entire Communist takeover–AND major US economic problems beginning late 1837 began with a mercantilist regime change invasion.

    1. Hong Kong’s just an older version of the complex military-industrial complex complex — Ah, Capitalism & militarism … perfect together!

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