HKFP Occupy banner one year on

University of Hong Kong (HKU) publication “Undergrad” has on Tuesday released a special issue on the pro-democracy Occupy movement, in which commentator Joseph Lian writes in an essay that at the time Hong Kong was being ruled by a “foreign regime,” with a student also calling Hong Kong’s identity “nationalistic.”

The special “Umbrella Revolution” issue is 80-pages long and features a collection of essays and interviews on the movement last year. It was published by Undergrad, a student magazine which garnered fame when it was specifically named and criticised by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

In his essay “Occupy movement and the foreign regime,” Joseph Lian Yi-zheng writes that the SAR government originally belonged to Hongkongers themselves, but because it was oppressive – more so than the colonial government – and adopted cruel methods, it had a low level of acceptance amongst the public and gradually became a “foreign regime.” He goes on to say that if foreign regimes do not treat local people well, they will eventually be overthrown. The Glorious Revolution in England, Lian said, was caused by the rule of a foreign regime. The term foreign regime, or émigré regime, is often used to describe the Kuomintang rule in Taiwan.

joseph lian
Joseph Lian Yi-zheng.

Two of the pages in the publication also featured an interview with “student Tong,” who discusses his part in the “Umbrella Revolution,” raising awareness of HKU’s exit from the Hong Kong Federation of Students and storming into the HKU Council meeting. Tong said that Hong Kong and China were too different to become one entity and that ideally, Hong Kong should be independent.

“Hong Kong is a nation, and Hongkongers’ self-identity and recognition could be promoted to the level of being nationalistic,” Tong, who identified himself as a Hongkonger rather than Chinese, said.

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Screenshots of the pages of the Umbrella issue. Photo: Undergrad.

The same issue also includes an illustrated timeline of the 79-day Occupy movement, a feature on Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting and essays from political scientists Chen Chia-Ming and Wu Jieh-min.

Undergrad News editor Liona Li told Ming Pao that the publication did not have a political stance and that they were not trying to encourage the independence of Hong Kong. She said that the issue was about reflecting on the Occupy movement one year after it took place, and the student interviews were merely a part of that. However, she said that the publication would not flinch in the face of criticism; “when you work in media, you’re prepared that readers with different views will criticise you,” she said.

Li also explained why the issue used the name Umbrella “revolution” rather than “movement”- it was a term more commonly used by HKU students, she said, and while they were not out to overthrow any ruling regime, they did wish to revolutionise the political system so that it would become democratic.

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Tree Gun.

Christopher “Tree Gun” Chung Shu-kun, who is a member of the HKU Court, thinks the essay is inciting separatism. He says the student did not correctly understand the concept of nationalism, which was naive and laughable. “China is so big… there are differences in every region. Even when [Hong Kong] was a colony, it was still drinking Dongjiang water,” he said, reminding the students not to forget their roots.

In January, CY Leung openly lambasted Undergrad for its “fallacies” and for its agenda of “advocating self-reliance and self-determination,” which Leung said was not in line with the constitution. Undergrad had published a book titled “Hong Kong nationalism,” as well as an issue which says “Hong Kong people decide its own fate” on the cover.

Karen cheung hong kong

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.