As Mainland China's political, economic and social impacts on Hong Kong have grown dramatically in recent years, the perception that Hong Kong's unique identity and way of life may be at risk is feeding much of the passion driving what in many ways is a spontaneous student movement, with no lack of supporters from younger members of the general public.
This rising consciousness of Hong Kong's separate identity is well dissected in an aricle by Wang Gungwu, a celebrated historian who is now chairman of the East Asian Institute and a professor at the National University of Singapore. The article first featured in the Straits Times and was later reprinted in the South China Morning Post of 8 October, 2014. Download South China Morning Post - Wang Gungwu - Test of Wills
At the BBC interview, I referred to the genie let out of the bottle. It's a genie that obeys the dream in Hong Kong's young hearts and minds - the dream of a more equitable and just future where the leader is freely chosen by the people and fighting for their dreams.
That dream is articulated by a Hong Kong young lady in a video of the New York Times of 7 October and in an anonymous letter to the students by a HK Mainlander which first appeared in the Asia Literary Review and was reprinted in the South China Morning Post on 10 October, 2014. Download Letter to HK students - Tonight I picked a side
These are manifestations of the so-called "Generation Z", born in the internet era and passionate with ideals to change the world, as expounded in a research paper of 22 October, 2014 by the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, a Hong Kong think-tank. Download Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre 智經研究中心 - Generation Z (in Chinese)This shows that a powerful driver of Hong Kong's civil disobedience movement is as much the dissatisfaction and frustration with an unequal and unjust society as the perceived erosion of Hong Kong's own identity, which a Chief Executive chosen by a narrow committee is perceived as unable to defend. Hence, the rapid build-up of broad-based support by the younger Generation Z, armed with passion and mobile technology.
Nevertheless, Beijing's worries about a free-for-all universal suffrage system for Hong Kong are well understood. Hence, safeguards in Article 45 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, to ensure what some may regard as wanting to know the outcome before an election is held. Click here
Moreover, there are suspicions that there could be more extraneous influence at work than meets the eye. Click here
On 11 October, the English edition of The People's Daily, China's official mouthpiece, featured a front-page article saying that Louisa Greve, Vice President of the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), met key members of the Occupy Central movement several months ago. Greve is responsible for Asia, Middle East and North Africa and was frequently associated with "Tibetan independence", "eastern Turkistan" and other independence movements. The article decries US's vain attempt to trigger a "Colour Revoultion" in China by fermenting an "Umbrella Revolution" in Hong Kong.
The timing of the latest revelations about CY Leung's pre-election deal with an Australian company may invite further suspicions.
Identity aside, social discontent out of unbridled capitalism, of which Hong Kong may be an exemplar, is rising across a globe embracing capitalism with a vengeance. In this regard, the Hong Kong young lady may well be speaking for the rest of the world.
The following are apt illustrations in this regard -
For China, Embarrassing Parallels Between Hong Kong Protestors and America's 99% , Ana Swanson, Forbes Online, 6 October, 2014 Click here
Hong Kong Occupy Central - Globalization, Capitalism, Identity - IMD Professor Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Forbes Online, 5 October, 2014 Click here
With the dynamics playing out for the heart and soul of Hong Kong under the One Country Two Systems formula, Hong Kong is near what I would call a Martin Luther King moment. There comes a time when a society's rift has to be healed. A game of chicken is no substitute. It's time for both sides to explore pragmatic ideas for the way forward. Some are suggested in my Op-ed article in the South China Morning Post of 7 Ootober.