The Struggle for Hong Kong
Living in Hong Kong is to witness history as it unfolds. The city was handed over from the British Crown to the Chinese Communist Party in 1997, and is globally known as a skyscraper-lined economic powerhouse. It is also the site of intense political struggle. The talk brings together two Hong Kong activists who have shaped historical events and an historian who has studied them.
Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor's Professor of History at the University of California-Irvine, where he also holds courtesy positions in Law and Literary Journalism. A past editor of the Journal of Asian Studies, he is the author of six books, including Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink (2020). His most recent major publication, as editor, is The Oxford History of Modern China (2022). In addition to writing for scholarly journals, he often contributes to newspapers and general interest periodicals and he served as a consultant on "The Gate of Heavenly Peace," a prize-winning documentary film about Tiananmen protests and June 4th Massacre of 1989.
Linda Wong was the external vice-president of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union in 1997. Wong was a practicing barrister-at-law in Hong Kong from 2004. Her practice includes civil and criminal law with special focus in human rights related cases, and she has worked as a university lecturer. Over the years, she has been a vocal supporter and advocate of human rights issues, with particular interest in gender equality and freedom of expression. She was among the hundreds of students and protesters who brought the statue “Pillar of Shame” onto the university campus on 4 June 1997.
Glacier Kwong is a political activist from Hong Kong. While she was a student at the University of Hong Kong, Kwong participated in the "Umbrella Revolution", the non-violent protest that took place in Hong Kong from September to December 2014. Kwong moved to Hamburg, Germany in 2018 to study for a master's degree there. Following the enactment of the Hong Kong national security law in 2020, Kwong is living in self-imposed exile in Germany. Her current work focuses on digital rights and the organization of Hong Kong people abroad. She is a PhD candidate in law at the University of Hamburg.
The lecture “The struggle for Hong Kong 2012-2022”
The lectures takes as a starting point the success young protesters achieved in 2012 when their demonstrations led the Hong Kong government to table plans to bring mainland style "patriotic education" into the city. Wasserstrom will move on from there through the Umbrella Movement of 2014 and the massive marches and street battles of 2019 to the National Security Law's imposition in 2020 and the wave of arrests and curtailment of civil society activities that characterized 2021 and the first months of this year. While mindful of the unique features of Hong Kong and the unusual course its recent history has taken, he will suggest that a variety of historical analogies, none perfect but each illuminating, can be used to place this dramatic decade into perspective.
15.15: Introduction, vice rector and professor in China studies, Mette Halskov Hansen, University of Oslo
15.20: “The struggle for Hong Kong 2012-2022: Comparative and historical perspectives on a pivotal decade”. Lecture by Professor Jeffrey Wasserstrom, University of California-Irvine.
16.15: "Shaping the course of history." A conversation with Linda Wong and Glacier Kwong, Hong Kong student activists from two generations.
Chair: Vice rector and professor in China studies, Mette Halskov Hansen, University of Oslo