Pro-Democracy Protests in Hong Kong: Perspectives From the Frontlines

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Protesters raise mobile phones as they gather to show support for protesters inside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) campus, November 19, 2019 REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Denise Ho

Artist; Pro-Democracy and LGBTQ Rights Activist

Joshua Wong

Secretary-General, Demosistō

Meighan Stone

Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations

Since March, millions of Hong Kongers have protested their government’s proposed law to allow the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China. Although Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam recently announced the withdrawal of the extradition bill, protesters continue to call for all five of their campaign demands, including universal suffrage, an independent inquiry into police brutality, that protests not be classified as riots, and the dropping of all charges against demonstrators. Our speakers Denise Ho, Hong-Kong based artist, pro-democracy and LGBTQ rights activist, and Joshua Wong, secretary-general of youth political group Demosistō, discussed Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, the role women play in the demonstrations, and their testimony at the Congressional-Executive Commission on China with activist and University of Washington PhD student Brian Leung. 

STONE: All right. We have a friendly group tonight, I can tell. I can tell this is going to be a good conversation, a good meeting, a good roundtable. Thank you so much to everyone that is with us tonight. I want to wish you a very good evening. My name is Meighan Stone, and if I didn’t already get a chance to personally welcome you, thank you so much for making time to join us tonight. We’re grateful for your presence and for all that you’re going to bring to this conversation. If we haven’t met before, I’m a senior fellow here at CFR in our Women and Foreign Policy Program. And before joining our talented team here at CFR, I served as president of Malala Yousafzai’s foundation, the Malala Fund. So really grateful to be able to talk about human rights tonight with such an esteemed audience.

So a word, a friendly word, tonight we’re on the record. So I know that many CFR events are not on the record. Tonight is on the record. I had a couple people ask me if they can take their phones out and take photos or Tweet. And I’m here to say yes. (Laughs.) Please. I see already. You know, we want to expand this discussion beyond the room, and so everything tonight will be on the record.

So our structure tonight is we’re going to have a conversation for about thirty minutes with our speakers, until 7:30, and then we’re going to open it up to your questions, which I’m sure will be a really vibrant discussion. So think about your questions in advance. We’re going to open it up at 7:30.

So why don’t we just dive right in and get started? So as we know, just to set the stage, since the spring and summer Hong Kongers have very bravely taken to the streets for over fifteen straight weeks in more than four hundred separate demonstrations, involving more than eight million people of all ages, including children. We know that the youngest protestor who’s been arrested was twelve years old. So let that settle in for a minute. They joined together in unprecedented protest against their government’s proposed law to allow the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, a law that would apply to liberal activists and also to the over eighty thousand Americans who call Hong Kong their home.

So although Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam recently announced the withdrawal of the extradition bill, protestors continue to call for all five of their campaign demands, including universal suffrage, an independent inquiry into police brutality, that the protests no be classified as riots, and dropping of all charges against demonstrators.

So tonight we’re very honored to host our speakers to share about this movement that’s really inspiring the world right now and continuing to unfold quite literally every day. Dense Ho, who’s a Hong Kong-based artist, pro-democracy and LGBTQ rights activist, and Joshua Wong, secretary-general of youth political group Demosistō. And I also want to give a very special welcome to some other key members of their leaderless pro-democracy movement that are here this evening who were part of the delegation to D.C., who are all joining us tonight. I want to recognize them because they’re all risking their lives, their jobs, their educations, their families for this cause. And they really are showing us that coalitions and young people can change policy.

So Nathan Law is the founding chair, if you want to raise your hand, of student activist group Demosistō. Brian Leung is a doctoral student at the University of Washington who read out a statement on protestors’ behalf at the July 1 occupation of the Legislative Council. He was the only unmasked protestor that day. And I want to give a special thanks to Jeffrey, who’s a doctoral student at Georgetown here in town, and he’s been working with us very closely on planning this gathering. Thank you, Jeffrey.

So let’s just jump right in and start talking about actually the last few days here in D.C. So right here in Washington you’ve done an incredible amount of outreach. I have to say that yesterday the atmosphere was electric at the Congressional Executive Commission on China. At the hearing you had the key leaders from both parties and both chambers expressing very strong support for your cause. I know that you had extensive meetings on the Hill today, yesterday, and that there’s two pieces of legislation that we’d love to hear about, and the nature of those meetings.

Those two pieces of legislation are the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would make officials in China and Hong Kong vulnerable to sanctions, require annual recertification by the U.S. secretary of state of Hong Kong’s autonomy, that results in its special trade and businesses privileges, and prohibit U.S. visa denials related to convictions of offenses that are related to these kinds of demonstrations. The second piece of legislation is the Protect Hong Kong Act, which would bar U.S. companies from exporting equipment used to violently crack down on peaceful protesters. So can you share with us about the nature of your engagement on the Hill? What have legislators been saying to you on both sides of the aisle? And how has your reception been in D.C. as you’re talking about these two bills?

I’ll start with you, Denise.

HO: Hello everyone. Thank you so much for making the time to be here. I would really want to thank Meighan, because it all started out with an email, and I had no idea it would become something huge like this. So thank you so much.

Just a short introduction of myself. I am a singer and activist from Hong Kong. My activism started in 2014 in the Umbrella Movement, where I was moved by students like Joshua Wong, and Nathan, and the other students. And so I was among the protests and I was arrested and detained on the last day, in the seventy-ninth day. So this time, five years later in 2019, I’m also, you know, moved by another group of a newer generation of students which I would like to introduce. Sunny here, Sunshine, Joey (sp), and Kex (ph) here. They are from the university IDA (sic; IAD), the group IDA (sic; IAD), which is—they are reaching out to international governments to advocate on the issues of Hong Kong. And so this time were are in D.C. to push—to advocate the Congress on the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

So I would like to pass the floor to Joshua.

WONG: Thanks for the invitation. I’m Joshua. Last time when we traveled to Washington was two years ago, before I went to prison. During that time is around May of 2017, only five lawmaker cosponsored the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. But with the recent summer of discontent, it really impressed lots of Hong Kongers continued to come to the street, and also kept our international advocacy campaign. So I will help you have a brief sharing of what’s going on in Hong Kong and what’s our advocacy in the United States and in the international community.

As you guys are all aware, oh how more than two million Hong Kongers took to the street in the middle of June. And I remember when I was in prison at middle of June, I saw TV news, and really impressed by how Hong Kong people, under the hardline oppression, they still keep on the fight, and with our calls to free election and stop police brutality. In the past five years, after the end of Umbrella Movement, we experienced activists being jailed, lawmaker just—(inaudible)—democratically elected (but later on and sent ?) by Beijing. Book publisher being physically kidnapped from Hong Kong to mainland China, and also foreign correspondent from Financial Times being expelled from Hong Kong.

The only observation for us is how one country two system eroded to be one country, one and a half system. And with the recent protests, we urge government completely withdraw the extradition bill, but it result in Hong Kong riot police fire more than three thousand canister of tear gas, more than 1,500 activists who are arrested, two hundred of them, including me, who were prosecuted especially with, just mentioned, the twelve years old primary school kid being arrested, and also two young professionals joined the protest peacefully result in permanent blindness.

But with all type of pressure and blame from Beijing what we are asking for is just a fundamental goal and the promise of Beijing mentioned in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which means free election. We hope to elect our own government by our laws. And that’s a demand under the current existing constitutional framework.

So after expressing all the will, all the police brutality, and the demands of Hong Kong people, I can emphasize more on our goal during our trip to Washington. As we all know that 1 of October is the Chinese national day. And with the threat of Beijing, we still have mass mobilization. But we urge the world, keep the eyes on Hong Kong, and we especially empathize on three demands. The first is we urge the U.S. Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. And the second goal is we hope U.S. government to stop export riot weapon, including tear gas and rubber bullets, from U.S. to Hong Kong police force. We strongly realize and urge U.S. government should not be the partner or giving any endorsement to Hong Kong police crackdown on human rights. And for the third issue, I think it’s really significant to have a bill on the U.S. foreign policy to China and Hong Kong.

And with our experience—no matter Denise Ho, Sunny, Joey, and I—we joined the Congress here in yesterday, and we strongly experienced the situation is far more better than what was going on five years ago during Umbrella Movement. With the soft power expansion in Australia and Canada, with the Belt and Road Initiative in European country, and the chaos of the trade negotiation, and how people are aware of uprising China model just results in how Beijing does not respect on the international rule with liberal value, especially after they enter WTO around two decades ago.

So I think now is the time to show the remarkable day of how the Speaker Pelosi and different lawmaker, congressmen and senators, they just hold a press conference from the—with the delegation from Hong Kong, which implied that it’s time to have the new bipartisan consensus on China’s policy, and the policy of U.S. towards Hong Kong, especially when we are aware Hong Kong is the place with Hong Kongers standing in the forefront to confront the authoritarian rule, and also we look to safeguard political and economic freedom. Especially we just want to let the world to know that how Hong Kong people are fighting for—we are not—what is not only beneficial towards Hong Kong people, but also significance to let the world aware that it’s time to let Beijing and President Xi to learn a lesson, especially respect on people’s voice and also respect on universal value.

So the future, we hope U.S.-Hong Kong relation can be more prioritized and also be more significant issue, especially when movement will keep the momentum, and how we also heard—hope our voice will be heard in the international community when we are facing the troops moved to the border, and how leaders of Hong Kong suggest to implement the emergency ordinance, as martial law. Well, this kind of chilling event generated by Beijing is not only targeting Hong Kong people, but also international community. And now is the time we will keep on our campaign. That’s the reason, no matter Cantopop singer, just like Denise Ho, or student activist from student union, just like the International Affairs Delegation, or several graduate student and lawmaker from—and lawyer from Hong Kong, all we hope to travel around the world and let our voice being heard in the free world. Thank you.

STONE: I know, Sunny, that you testified yesterday. You talked about bipartisan support. You talked about your press conference to Speaker Pelosi. Senator Rubio, of course, is the Republican co-chair of the Congressional Executive Commission on China. Said at the hearing yesterday, quote, “The U.S. and other nations have options precisely because Beijing benefits from Hong Kong’s special status—a special status which has made Hong Kong an international financial center, build on the promises that China made to the world with regards to Hong Kong, which they seek to break.” There is Chinese human rights scholar, Professor Sharon Hom who also testified with you. She put it this way—it was a very spirited testimony yesterday—that mainland China wants the goose’s golden egg, but said golden goose is not free range. (Laughter.)

So I’m wondering, Sunny, if you can talk a little bit just about the nature of your meetings? And did you feel like members of Congress are expressing this as a common sentiment? Are they seeing this as a place of leverage? And, you know, what kind of engagement were you finding on the Hill across the aisle?

CHEUNG: Hello. So far, I think that people in United States, of course, they realize that China manipulates Hong Kong as a loophole of world liberal system, trying to do some illegal trading under the table, including China is using Hong Kong to do trading with Iran and North Korea. Actually, a few months ago when the U.S. government gave a warning to Hong Kong government that they should not allow a ship from Iran to come to Hong Kong. But the Hong Kong government denies this demand from the U.S. government. And this actually shows that one of the reason why the U.S. government should monitor the Hong Kong situation is to secure the interests of the United States.

And that’s why, despite those humanitarian reasons, one very crucial reason is that if you keep looking and monitoring Hong Kong situation you can find out China really depends on Hong Kong until now. That’s why if you can actually do something to help Hong Kong or try to monitor Hong Kong, you can increase your bargaining power and increase your leverage in order to contain China.

STONE: Thank you for sharing that.

I want, Denise, for you to speak just a little bit about your journey as an activist. And I know that’s come at great cost. So of course, you’re a Cantopop star. You paid a price for your pro-democracy and LGBTQ advocacy. You’ve had lucrative brand contracts cancelled. You’ve been banned from performing by the Chinese government. But you’ve still been unstoppable in your support of this movement, including testifying at the U.N. Human Rights Council in July. And you said very powerfully in your congressional testimony yesterday this is not a plea for so-called foreign interference. This is a plea for democracy. And you quoted Eleanor Roosevelt to the committee when you were testifying. Can you talk about your journey of being a pro-democracy activist, particularly what you’re seeing with the role of women and young people in the protests? Because I always hear you in the press really crediting their energies. What would you share about what you’ve seen on the ground?

HO: Yes. Well, as you all know, if you take a step forward there’s no turning back with the CCP. Like, they already put you on that list. So I have been on that list since 2014. And of course, this movement, having gone to the U.N. to speak in Geneva and also with this hearing, like, I’m probably blacklisted for a few lives, actually.

So right now the sentiment in Hong Kong, it’s there is a lot of—it’s a very brave movement. But at the same time, there is a lot of fear of political reprisal. As you have seen probably on images, it is largely anonymous. People are putting on masks and helmets and googles. For one, it’s because there is a lot of tear gassing going on. But the second reason is that, you know, people don’t want to be recognized. They don’t want to get their identities revealed, because anyone who is recognizable could face charges or prosecution from the police. So personally, I have faced a lot of censorship, not only in China but also in Hong Kong, where brands and businesses, they are staying away from me. And also, of course, like, very recently it has also seen overseas, which is very worrying for us and also probably for everyone here, because we see that this kind of self-censorship, it is happening overseas.

Just two weeks ago me and my friend here Badiucao, he is a Chinese artist based in Melbourne, he invited me over for a(n) event, a panel discussion. But he had great difficulties in getting a venue, even in Australia. And we were rejected by—from ten venues they applied for, we were rejected by nine of them, which among them was a government institution which is the NGV, the National Gallery of Victoria, which is an art museum. They refused our application for the venue because of so-called security concerns. So, you know, this is something that is real, that is happening right now. And even very recently in Canada, even, there were Hong Kong activists who were banned from a gay pride in Montreal, my hometown. So it is very concerning.

And that is why I have said in my hearing yesterday that this is not only a call from Hong Kong to the world to, you know, save us because we are in a humanitarian crisis, it really is a very global fight where we are seeing this kind of Chinese influence. You know, their economic powers, along with their set of regime—the values from their regime coming into the world. And it is destroying a lot of our universal values, when they are trying to make people conform to their set of values. And a lot of businesses and even government institutions, they are succumbing to this kind of suppression.

So I would—if I could, I would like to pass the floor to Badiucao, just to say a few words.

BADIUCAO: Sure. I’m born in China, so I’m not really Hong Kongers. But as a mainlander, I fully supporting Hong Kong’s fight on this very important cause. Well, now I am Australian citizen, but Australia is a very important ally to America. But in Australia, we’re experiencing all kinds of infiltration and influence or manipulation from Beijing. There are—5 percent of the population in Australia are actually having Chinese backgrounds. So the weight is there.

However my people in Australia are heavily manipulated by the influence from Beijing. From media aspect I could say maybe about 90 percent of the Chinese Australian media is controlled by Beijing. They’re following the same censorship principle as Beijing. And as we’re talking about universities, yes, Chinese students are very important resources for the universities in Hong Kong, but in a way because the university, they are aware of that, and they don’t want to lose the market from China. So they’re compromising a lot in the regarding of free speech and independence of academic.

So a lot of sign(s) are showing that the Chinese aggression will just stop within their own territory. It will not just stop in Hong Kong, but they’re also expanding far away. And probably Australia is the frontline is battling it. About American, I guess a very important thing is the online free speech has been endangered because of Beijing influence. For example, this year is the thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. I proposed the Twitter company to create a special emoji to coordination with this very important anniversary. However, I got rejected by the Twitter company saying emoji for them is limited resources. And when I am trying to follow up saying that actually I’m an artist, I design emoji for them, for several candidate, and I’m offering if there’s a financial limitation that I would like to fund my personally. But I do not have response from Twitter from that ever.

This is very disappointing, to see an American internet company is compromising because of the Chinese influence. And this is not just stopped with Twitter. We also see Google having the Dragonfly project, coordinating with Chinese censored version of a search engine. And Facebook is also very problematic that—actually, again, my art is recently censored in the Instagram, which is belonged to the Facebook group. And the reason for that is I think there are a lot of trolls from China. Some of them are just individual ones, some of them are organized by the Chinese government. And the way they can export this censorship is by reporting some of the information they’re not particularly like, like my art. And they’re causing a trouble and ended up my work will be deleted from the platform and the company of America.

So these are my experience, that when I’m overseas, when I’m no longer in China as Australia Chinese, but I’m still have to facing all this kind of difficulty physically and in the digital world as well.

STONE: Thank you for sharing that perspective as an artist. I think we find with these kinds of movements there’s a lot of intersection between art, youth movements, digital organizing now, of course.

I want to go back to Joshua just to talk about, you know, speaking of youth movements, about your experience, you know, as a youth organizer and your journey from the Umbrella Movement, of course, in 2014 to today. You know, a lot of the things that you’re talking about, in the media in think people think these sound like crazy demands when they consider the Chinese government, and they don’t realize that many of the things you’re asking for, if not all, are already enshrined, as you talked about, in the 1984 Sino-British Declaration, which was already signed. It’s a binding international treaty by the Chinese government.

Can you talk about how that erosion of autonomy led to your activism in 2014, how old you were when you started becoming an activist, and then what you’re seeing in terms of the demands being met or denied today? What’s the status of the five demands?

WONG: I start to engage in street activism at the age of fifteen, since Hong Kong and Beijing government decide to introduce the patriotic education school curriculum seven years ago. Not only for—not only encouraging students to love the country, but even forcing student loyalty to regime. And that’s the reason for a scared one hundred thousand people surrounded the government headquarters. And with our calls on free election, this just result in the legacy of Hong Kong movement, which is the Umbrella strike.

But I think one observation that I would like to profile is I remember five years ago during the Umbrella Movement for world leaders, they might have more hesitation to comment or pay attention to Hong Kong. Perhaps it will be the second or third year for President Xi to rule Hong Kong and China. And people still have kind of understanding or less discontent to his leadership. But I think with what’s happened in the past five years, it’s just stricken more and more people discontent. And that’s the reason on the G-20 summit how the prime minister of Japan met with President Xi one day before the G-20 summit and urged President Xi: Pay attention to the implementation of one country, two system. And that’s the things that we never imagined in the past, especially—usually for the Japan government they might have more passive attitude to comment on Hong Kong strike.

And around late of August, after the end of G-7 summit, world leaders issued a joint statement, recognize the existence and the importance of imposing and recognizing the Sino-British Joint Declaration. From my memory in the past two or three decades never Hong Kong would be on the agenda of G-7 summit. And none of the world leaders will issue statement or comment on Hong Kong strike. But I believe it’s with the threat of Beijing to Hong Kong, and with such kind of wide terror has just driven more and more attention. That’s why I think the tremendous bipartisan support that we experienced in the past few days during our trip to Washington has just symbolized the new chapter of U.S.-Hong Kong relation. And it’s a must to prioritize the human rights condition and the strike in Hong Kong, because what we are asking for is just a political system reform under the current constitutional framework.

So I would say that supporting Hong Kong should not be the matter of left or right. It should be the matter of right or wrong. And that’s my observation from five years ago, the strike, till the summer of discontent.

STONE: Thank you for that. I know we’re going to shift to questions in just a few moments, but I want to make sure we hear from Nathan as well, as another student organizer. Can you share about your experience? And then, Brian, we’d love to ask a question about what happened on July 1 in the Legislative Council.

LAW: Well, thanks for the invitation. And I remember when I testify in May, well, obviously everything was exploded. Massive mobilization was not there yet. And I realize that the understanding of the American politicians about Hong Kong situation was quite limited. So I testify in May for educational purposes. But for now, we can see an overwhelming bipartisan support that this particular bill, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, that also Hong Kong people wanted to see its passage, indeed received an enormous amount of support, like Joshua has said. Like, five years ago when it was first introduced it was cosponsored by five congressmen. For now, the update—the most updated data would be more than fifty congressmen cosponsoring it, and a lot of private conversation with the senators and some other senior leaders in the Congress, they also predict that this will be passed in this year. So this is quite an optimistic prediction for that.

So for me, I believe that it means something, the passage, or the introduction, or the huge growth of the supporting array of the act indeed means that we are entering the new paradigm of the U.S.-Hong Kong relation that U.S. politics is not seeing Hong Kong only as a part of China that put there into Chinese policy just a part of that, but also seeing it as, well, with each agency and specific policymaking, targeting to the autonomy and democracy in Hong Kong. So I think it indeed means something for Hong Kong people that by having this emphasis on Hong Kong situation on human rights and democratic situation, that we may get a lot of—more support from our international allies, and from the free world, that we share the same values.

So I do believe that, talking about the act, my fellow colleague Jeffrey Ngo would be, like, the one who knows the most of that, because he’s been following that, and he’s been doing all sort of communication work. And I think after Brian, like, speak on his experience, and I think Jeffrey could talk about—more about the act and how to think about the current political situation.

STONE: You are true activists, because you’ve taken control of this discussion very ably. (Laughter.) Who am I to say no? All right, why don’t I go to Brian. You know, Brian, can you share a little bit just what happened on the day of July 1, storming this Legislative Council protest, and then you were the only protestor to remove your mask, and to be seen, and to be identified. And you gave a speech. And you listed these five demands. Did you know that was going to happen that day? Like, what led you to go that day? Were you prepared to take that step? You’ve become an icon in the movement in a lot of ways. I know it’s a leaderless movement, I want to be respectful of that, but that was a really brave act. That was a bold act that day. Can you take us into that moment? Because we’re in a very antiseptic room right now. We’re very removed. But what was that like in that moment?

LEUNG: Sure. I think I’ll try to be brief and, you know, talk a little bit about my experience, but also give more time for, like, general discussion and questions.

So I think the essence of that action is really about expressing the frustration over the lack of democratization for the past two decades. We, like, I think, many young activists here were born, like, before or after the transfer of sovereignty, right? And we basically grew up with, you know, post-sign-over era and grew up with the democratization movement, right? But what we have seen is, like, over the past two decades there have not been any substantive democratic reform in our system, right? So in that legislative chamber we have seen a lot of abuse of power. We have seen, like, democratically elected, like, legislative were being unseated. We were seeing a lot of policy that have been very forcefully passed in that chamber. We have seen, like, about half of our seat in that chamber is still not democratically elected, right? So I think that chamber really symbolized a lot about the root causes of the whole movement and the problem, right?

So some of the protestors that day chose to, you know, storm the Legislative Council and went into the chamber. And to me, the mentality is, like, even though that action is very divisive, right? People would disagree, and, you know, might argue about is it justified, right? But to me it’s like someone has to step up and provide a justification, right, to provide a concrete demand about why do we have to do such—(inaudible)—right? To me, it’s to feel that fill that moral vacuum, it’s to fill that political vacuum, that what’s our demand for doing such (act ?), right? So I took the moment, and I—you know, I read the demand, I gave—you know, read a manifesto on behalf of the protestors and basically laid out the five demands that have been reiterated throughout the movement.

So I think, again, I just want to say, you know, my action is really about giving a voice to a protest, or why did I choose to do so, it’s really because over the past two decades, the system is still not changed. I think about, like, the promises of one country, two system it’s going to expire in, like, 2047, right? So we are in the halfway point of the whole, like grand scheme of one country, two system, right? But our democratization still lags so behind, right? Think about when are we going to see full democratization that is promised in the basic law, right, if we already have passed through half of those years? So I think it’s really about making a systemic change now rather than later.

STONE: Thank you so much. I think, Jeffrey, Joshua’s insisting that we hear from you. I know you’ve been organizing actually this entire Washington trip. It’s been quite a week, I have to say, for young activist—between Greta Thunberg being here in D.C., and all of your activism. You know, you are a doctoral student at Georgetown here. Do you want to share briefly about the trip and what you feel is being accomplished?

NGO: It’s—yes, it’s been a busy week. And actually, past week was also very busy in terms of doing scheduling for our delegation. You’re right, I’m a Ph.D. student. Some in the room might know how it feels. (Laughs.) You know, three courses, language, TA. But, no, I’m—(laughter)—it’s been—it’s been—

STONE: Is this a side hustle, is that what you’re telling us? (Laughs.)

NGO: No, it’s been—that and all this is difficult, but yeah. You know, the emotional toll, right, of seeing events in Hong Kong and not being able to be there, but then the sort of, you know, rational side prevailed over the emotional side in thinking about what we can do in D.C. And that’s why, you know, I’ve been able to help out in terms of this delegation.

More specifically about the bill, I think this is—this is number-one priority for this trip. And I guess for the purposes of this audience it will be something interesting as well. I think Nathan and Joshua touched on the most important points already. I mean, we’ve seen literally a tenfold increase in terms of the number of co-sponsors. I just checked, it’s fifty-one co-sponsors on the House and Senate side combined. A couple years ago it was, like, three and two. Now it’s fifty-one. So it’s very impressive. I think the—you know, for us, this is about finding bipartisan support. It’s an unpredictable time in Washington with the current administration. But I think what President Trump has been able to do is to force political leaders on both sides of the aisle to rethink what strategy they have to use against China.

And you know, since pretty much when Nixon first went to China, certainly after 1989, the idea has always been that, you know, whichever party’s in the White House will be the pro-engagement party, and then whichever party’s out of the White House would be tough on China. You know, we see, you know, then-candidate Bill Clinton criticizing on, you know, Bush, Sr.’s policy on China after ’89 being too soft. And then obviously when President Clinton took office he delinked, you know, human rights too, with the MFN status, and then subsequently advocated very strongly for the admission of China into the WTO. You know, there wasn’t a very robust response from the Obama administration five years ago during the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, which was in and of itself a remarkable moment.

But what we see now is that, you know, whether or not you agree trade war being a good way to deal with China, the consensus seems to be that at least you have to think about, well, if not the trade war then what? And we’re seeing, you know, 2020 Democratic, you know, presidential candidates, for instance, saying so much about Hong Kong. Especially I’m thinking of Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who raised Hong Kong actually as an issue in the presidential—most recent Democratic presidential debate. That hasn’t happened since 1992. And then since, Elizabeth Warren spoken repeatedly in favor of Hong Kong since June. So, you know, Hong Kong arising as a sort of U.S. presidential politics issue, you know, that would have been completely unimaginable five years ago.

So much has changed on the ground, and in Hong Kong as well, over the past five years. But, you know, in Washington here we’re seeing a lot more support and a lot more interest. The fact that we have good turnout tonight and, you know, is a testament to that. And I look forward to more questions. But it’s been heartwarming for us.

STONE: Well, thank you. Professor, can you tell that Jeffrey’s a doctoral student in history at Georgetown? (Laughter.) Just gave us a brief synopsis of Chinese-American engagement.

This is the moment to start discussion with you. Please, you know, identify yourself. We want to know who you are. Tell us your name, your affiliation. And if we could keep questions brief, and then also responses brief. Maybe one person can take each question? So that we can move quickly. At the Council we usually put our placards up to indicate that we have a question. So feel free to start right now. And we’ll start right here on this side of the table.

Q: Michael Mosettig, PBS Online NewsHour.

There’s been a lot of commentary here, particularly in the last few days. And you even mentioned the fact that there’s no leaders in this movement. How far can a movement go without leaders to set priorities, to negotiate? And particularly since you’re dealing with a very disciplined entity on the other side? When do you start narrowing this down and start going from leaderless to having a chain of command and leaders?

LEUNG (?): I think, of course, on the one hand you see how protests are using, like, communication technology to help them, you know, coordinate action. People have much more ownership over the movement. They could come up with their own initiative, right? I think you can—you have to also look at it from another side of the story, which is debating strategy, right? So in terms of ’14, in Umbrella Movement, their strategy is basically to wait us out and to let the movement die out, and basically use co-optation, such as, like, holding a dialogue platform to create internal divisions, right? Their idea is, like, as long as we, like, not bloodily repress the movement, we can simply wait us out and cause, you know, internal divisions so that the movement would—you know, the leaders would debate with the—you know, the mass, and, you know, it would create divisions, right?

So I think people—that’s what happening actually a platform and a leader in 2014 in the Umbrella Movement creates so much, you know, divisions and debate within—from within, right? So I think in 2019 people actually react and adapt to that Beijing strategy by saying: Hey, if we create a centralized platform and leaders, right, it actually, you know, would make us play into the Beijing strategy. Why don’t we decentralized the ownership, right, so that everybody could have some sort of, like, say in the movement, right? So that nobody—no single individuals could be co-opted into a system, and cause that kind of internal division, right? So one remarkable consequence of that is the whole movement has remained a high level of solidarity and people across different factions, across different—you know, maybe they have difference across ideologies or tactics, right? They still remain united, exactly because there is no strong sense of internal division.

So I think it’s not only, you know, about the good or creative way of the movement, the spontaneity. It’s also about how we, as protestor, like, having some sort of so asymmetrical position vis-à-vis Beijing, right, we might not want to use a traditional method. We might have to come up with creative method.

STONE: Yeah. I hear always in the press them saying it’s a David and Goliath, you know, matchup. And so maybe requires a different tactic, and that winds up being more effective. And I think it’s also generational. Digital organizing, a different way of thinking about power and power structures.

I want to go to right here in the corner, your question.

Q: Maria Stephan with the U.S. Institute of Peace.

And I guess my question—first of all, thank you for coming out. It’s been remarkable to observe and witness your movement. I’ve been telling various audiences that you’re putting on kind of a clinic on activism for the world. But a question that I had had to do with kind of a common tactic that repressive authorities often use, is to deploy agent provocateurs in an attempt to foment violence within a movement, with the idea being that violence is easier to justify crackdowns against and violence in a movement tends to decrease overall participation, which is a key variable in the success of movements. So I guess my question for you all is kind of what is your approach for countering that? And do you consider that kind of nonviolent discipline to be a strategic priority for your movement right now? And then also, what is your time horizon? When you’re thinking strategically about how this plays out, what is your planning timeline? Is it three months? Is it one year? Is it three years? Is it ten years? Thank you.

STONE: Who wants to take that one? Maybe Joshua? Or why don’t we try to—it would be great to hear from everyone who wants speak tonight as well. If you just took the last one, Joshua, do you want to take this one, or?

WONG: Well, yeah. Well, I think the way we understand what has been going in Hong Kong is they’re just like an AI machine. All the Hong Kong people are the—one of the, like, small parts of it. And they incubate on the internet, they bring some ideas, and they discuss into the software, and then they execute it in the local sites. So they have been through a trial and error process, which we can see that. When they make mistakes they will reflect on the internet, and they will go to a apologize when they make mistake on the next day when they had it, and they changed strategy. So that’s how Hong Kong protests go.

And I think, well, from—well, when you understand how the mechanism of that with disorganized, and decentralized, and leaderless nature of that, it’s really hard for us to predict, well, this master plan for future months, because it relies on the agenda of the government. For example, the first of October will be the 70th anniversary of the Chinese government. So that will—that will mark a remarkable day. And, well, we can expect that there will be a massive mobilization of people. And in terms of the tactics of the resistance, and I think sometimes—well, indeed, it is devastating to see, right, the levels of conflict, some kind of violence. But for us, the way we understand, well, the state’s violence, well, definitely what country means is they have dominant legitimacy of using violence.

But when the police force is out of any accountability and no one can hold them accountable, and checks and balances are basically unavailable, and they can do whatever they want because they are granted permit from the government, that sometimes we give discretion to the protestors because they need to protect themselves and they understand that all this police brutality will not be punished, even if these are well-documented by the reporters and by the global community. So I think the way these conflicts happens, as long as it’s proportionate—there’s, like, proportionality, where there is, like, specific target—for example, the political symbol and vandalism on the representation of the authority, and also with—well, with a very restrained manner.

Then I think as a part of the protest, even though we are, like, really hoping that we create a solidarity and uniform image to the global community and less well excuse by the CCP to be manipulated to stigmatize the movement. But we still need to have a certain flexibility and discretion to this behavior under this context. So I think, well, at the end of the day the momentum, and the spirit, and the morale, and sense of being united in Hong Kong is still very strong. And I think it is more pushing us, like, moving forward.

HO: And may I just add too, the way that we have countered the agent provocateur is that with the humor and the flexibility of Hong Kongers where, for example, when we first knew that there were these undercover police among the protestors, it actually created this sort of paranoia, which resulted in the incident at the airport. But then they recovered very quickly by—they came out to apologize. And then not only apologizing, but really changing the way that they are reacting to these things. And the way that they did it is next time they saw these undercover police, they just held these banners saying: Oh, we thank you for supporting Hong Kong. Or, you know, Tiananmen massacre, you—we are against it. Like, stuff that cannot appear in Chinese internet, and then those people would be just like, oh, no, don’t take photos of me. (Laughter.)

So I think this sort of flexibility was very key to how this movement sustained itself for such a long time. We are past the 100-day mark. And most probably—you know, we don’t have answers in the future yet, but I’m quite confident that these young people and basically the people of Hong Kong, we will come to a solution very quickly. And that, in place of this machine, it’s very huge, but it’s also very slow. So every time we change the tactic they would need time to counter so. So, you know, that’s how we buy time. And then on other levels we will be doing advocacy and work too, so.

STONE: All right. We’re going to keep coming around the table and then go. I saw you in the back as well, so we’ll come around to you. Why don’t we go right here to the right, to Benjamin, did you have a question?

Q: Hi. I’m Ben Pauker from Vox. Denise, thank you for the unpaid product placement there. (Laughter.)

I’m interested in the appetite for sustained popular mobilization on the streets. Obviously the withdrawal of the extradition bill was a big step. There are still significant other demands. But honestly, what do you think the sort of appetite for sustained, widespread popular mobilization of the citizen in Hong Kong continues to be, or will be, over the next—the course of the following months?

MR.     : I’m still optimistic for Hong Kongers to keep the protest movement, no matter. First of October will be the symbolic day for mass mobilization. And middle of October will be the day for Beijing to decide whether they will conduct political censorship to disqualify candidacy to run for office. It will also trigger more people continue to strike. And more important issue is after we successfully forced government to completely withdraw the extradition bill, even we still had to claim that’s kind of victory, but it’s still a remarkable achievement to show the power of people. So with such empowerment, people just targeted the second goal, urged government to set up the investigation commission of police brutality.

Five years ago, during the Umbrella Movement, business leaders or business sector are the one against the protest and having the same side with the government. But now, not only protestor, even business leader and those businessmen strongly recommended and urged government set up investigation of police brutality. I guess that’s also started from early July, the general chambers of commerce, representing most tycoons in Hong Kong, issued a statement urged to conduct investigation. We just implied that—according to the survey conducted by Chinese university, more than 80 percent of Hong Kongers urged to set up the committee. From my memory, in the past few decades never will have any kind of opinion poll where more than 80 percent agree on the same demand.

So even government completely withdraw the bill, with how we described it Hong Kong already transformed to be a police state, it still encouraged our movement go forward. And now even some of those pro-Beijing lawmaker agree to conduct investigation. And just imagine, from February to August, Carrie Lam said that there’s no reason to withdraw the bill. But finally, two weeks ago, she still withdrew it. So it’s no surprise, if we keep our movement in the next few months, it will finally force government compromise to Hong Kongers.

STONE: Thank you. I want to move around the table and call on Nury, who of course is a Uighur attorney and advocate.

Q: Thank you, Meighan.

Thank you so much for bringing us all together here. I’d like to welcome my good friend, Denise Ho, who I had the honor to share the share the stage at the Oslo Freedom Forum this past May. And also welcome all of you, and also extend solidarity from Uighur people with you. We are standing with you all the way because historically, politically, we have a lot in common. In 1949, Stalin’s Soviet Union handed us over to Mao’s China. And look what we got ourselves into, from autonomy to a concentration camp, digital authoritarianism, Hong Kong police being trained by Xinjian police and exchanging notes, sending plainclothes police to beat up the protestors, disinformation campaign, mind control, and very similar. With that, I’d also like to point out that, Jeffrey, it’s actually CFR started the questioning of the presidential campaigns to make a position on Hong Kong Uighurs and other China-related issues. So they deserve a lot of credit for making them to talk.

With that, I’d like to ask two questions. One, are you guys been prepared or having any kind of strategies for Chinese government’s potential programs, the efforts to do mind control? As Deng Xianhua (ph) pointed out, that he’s blaming you because your mind has been intoxicated with democratic ideas and civil liberties. And too, if the disinformation campaign that the Chinese government waged during the protest had any effect among the protestors? We talked about the leadership, but we are also experiencing disinformation campaign. If you go to Facebook, Twitter, there are a lot of trolling efforts being taken. So if you can comment on those—on those two questions really appreciate it.

STONE: Who would like to take that?

BADIUCAO: I think I’ll go with the first question because I am not from Hong Kong. As an observer, and also being a dissident who’s very familiar with a similar campaign from China. One thing I know for sure is they are lacking the sense of beauty. Although they have very sophisticated propaganda machine, but you cannot really find art or good visual expression from their thing. So I think, from my perspective, very importantly art is playing a very important role to maintaining this protest, and maintaining, in a way, to counter the propaganda system.

And I also want to go back about the violence that we’ve seen from the protest. Like, there is worrying to say if the reaction would go more violent. But the problem is I don’t think the whole movement is turning more violent. It’s the perception of it is turning more violent. While peaceful demonstration is magnificent when you see the first million, two million people. But as it’s going on it’s quite boring, to be honest. You just see people marching in the street. And then the media start to pay more attention on the more explosive content, and violence is definitely one of them. So the counterstrategy to the violence, I think the answer will be creativity. Like, Hong Kongers doing the Hong Kong way, when people are hand-in-hand in the streets, this is also attracting media attention. It’s giving the whole campaign a very positive image. This also united people to continue doing it, because there’s new things happening all the time.

So I would say art played a very important role on maintaining the protest, but also in the way to defending the people from the brainwash or the propaganda. Thank you.

STONE: And perhaps a brief answer to the second question? Anyone want to take that one?

CHEUNG: Is the second—I thought the second question is about disinformation.

Q: Disinformation.

STONE: Yeah, or his other question, that Nury offered, yeah.

Q: The mind control, and potentially Chinese government is doing—what they’re doing in the Uighurs’ homeland, brainwashing—

CHEUNG: Yeah. It’s definitely troubling and unfortunate that that has happened in—you know, in Xinjiang and in other peripheries of China. We are less worried about that happening in Hong Kong. If anything, the repression in Hong Kong only leads to more radicalization of the youth. I mean, you know, you can’t imagine a twelve-year-old schoolboy being arrested anywhere in the world for protesting. This is what Hong Kong has come to now. And then, you know, Joshua made the statement in his testimony at the congressional hearing that, you know, China just doesn’t understand how to govern a free society. And so when—you know, when China pushes, I think Hong Kong pushes back. And that has been—you know, that has been the case in 2003. In 2012 with the national education. 2003 was the first attempt to legislation the national security bill. And then in 2014 denying us democracy, leading to the Umbrella Movement. In 2019, trying to extradite Hong Kongers to China, leading to the summer of discontent.

So I think, you know, every summer, you know, Beijing tries to do that, tried to tell Hong Kongers how to live our lives, we push back, and we show that that is—you know, that just doesn’t happen to Hong Kong. And I really do hope that the experience in Hong Kong can—you know, can inspire the Uighurs and Tibetans, you know, hopefully caution the Taiwanese as well, that their democracy’s vulnerable. You know, I do agree that China is perfecting authoritarianism in the twenty-first century, you know, with disinformation, you know, exploiting the internet, right? You know, the interest was supposed to be the place that opened the world to everyone. China reverses that. Mind controlling tactics, as you were talking about.

But I think, you know, whenever the state evolves, I think the people also evolve. You know, we’ve heard from Brian and Nathan earlier talking about how networks have prevailed over hierarchy in terms of how Hong Kongers have been organizing ourselves in the movement. You know, the Baltic way was a good example of that, you know, Eastern Europe trying to assert their self-determination in 1989 against the Soviet Union. And then now there was the Hong Kong way a couple of weeks ago. I think, you know, as late as ’86 or ’87, no one would have predicted that Soviet Union was going to collapse. The Soviet Union was the state that would not fail. But then, you know, to the surprise of many observers at the time that, you know, eventually we saw that happened. But, you know, I think—you know, with Hong Kongers determination, with our creativity, you know, with our support from the international community, especially here in Washington, I think miracles can happen.

HO: So I would like to add a little bit to that. The reason why the Chinese smearing campaigns could not really work was at least the youngsters in Hong Kong—personally, I think that language is key. Because in mainland China they speak Mandarin. And in Hong Kong we speak Cantonese. So at least on the cultural side of things it is very difficult for them, say, to get their TV shows into Hong Kong, or their songs into Hong Kong. So that has been something that was protecting us from that kind of misinformation. Although, it did work on some, like, more elderly people. But Hong Kong people also, with our creativity, say we created parody pages of their pages, pretending to be their pages, so kind of, like, tricking the elderly to come into our pages and get our information. And also because the elderly, they really love those, like, promotional images with these lotus flowers. So the youngsters also created the same imagery, but with our messages on top of it.

So for Hong Kong, I guess that is not as worrying. But I do worry about Taiwan, because from what I know is they’re—they speak the same language. They speak Mandarin. So some of the youth in Taiwan, they are getting influenced, at least by the Chinese cultural side of things. Say, they watch their TVs shows, and they’re very into it. And so that is something we—they have not yet found an answer to, like, how do we counter that? And also, because the Chinese students, whether they are within the Chinese perimeter or overseas, where they are also getting this sort of misinformation. So how do we counter that? Maybe that should be a conversation that should be started here or elsewhere.

Q: Thank you.

STONE: Here sounds good to start conversations that matter.

I know that our time needs to come to a close very soon, so what I’m going to do is a lightning round. I’m going to call on people that have had their cards up for quite a while and are very patiently waiting. If you could just say who you are, a brief question, and then if we could do quick responses. And then if you are around for a few minutes after and are willing to talk to anybody that didn’t get a chance to connect, that would be wonderful.

So why don’t we just start right here with Stephanie.

Q: Stephanie Hammond with the Department of Defense.

You spoke really extensively and thank you for speaking on Capitol Hill yesterday about your engagement on the Hill and support for the Human Rights and Democracy Act. I’m curious, did you meet with other government agencies when you were here in D.C.? And what are some of your main messages for them? Jeffrey, you speak really eloquently about U.S. policy and presidential candidates the last few decades, as how forward-leaning they’ve been with human rights in China and Hong Kong. I think some of the foundational arguments among U.S. policymakers are how forward-leaning they should be, and whether or not how effective that is, whether they do more public-facing human rights campaigns, or engagement behind closed doors.

STONE: Thank you so much. Let’s get all the questions quickly, and then we’ll do a round of answers. So why don’t we go on the back wall. You’ve been waiting very patiently, yeah.

Q: I’m Adam Nelson with the National Democratic Institute.

I lived in Hong Kong for almost ten years. One of the great social movements in Hong Kong is the LGBT community. I was happy to participate in the 2008 pride parade. Can Denise Ho speak to the movement from a feminist perspective and the LGBT perspective? Are both of those voices being given room in the movement?

STONE: That is a great ally question, thank you for raising your placard. (Laughter.)

Joseph, what’s your question?

Q: My name is Joseph Torigian. I’m a fellow here at the Council on Foreign Relations.

I was in Hong Kong for the June 4 memorial this year. And there were some interesting discussions about how the older generation thought that the human rights campaign in Hong Kong was inextricably tied to the one in the mainland, but that the younger generation feels differently, and that Hong Kong people should focus on Hong Kong and not on the mainland. I wonder if you could speak to that issue.

STONE: Great. And our last question tonight’s going to come from Matthew.

Q: So I’m Matt Squeri with Senator Jeff Merkley.

One of the dilemmas that advocates and champions for human rights and democracy in Hong Kong wrestle with is the fact that on the one hand perhaps the United States’ greatest leverage over China to promote these issues is the determination that our government makes regarding there being sufficient political and economic autonomy to warrant the continued special status for Hong Kong. Yet, we also are cautioned fairly often by advocates for democracy and human rights that making a determination that Hong Kong does not have that economy could be punishing the very people that we are trying to help. And so I’m wondering how you would encourage us to think about that tension.

STONE: That’s great. Why don’t we start with answering that question, and I’ve taken notes to work our way back briefly, so that we can close to on time. I know we started a few minutes late, because people were connecting with each other. Who wants to answer Matthew’s question first, that he just shared?

MR.     : Sorry, which question was this?

(Cross talk.)

LEUNG: Yeah. As recent as, I guess, maybe half a year ago if you asked many pro-democracy, especially older generation of pro-democracy advocates and former legislators, you know, what do you feel about potentially revising Hong Kong’s status as a special customs territory in accordance with U.S. law, they would probably have some reluctance, because they, you know, exactly as you said, that, well, if you start treating Hong Kong as separate from China economically, then, you know, you’re going to harm Hong Kong’s economy, unemployment rate is going to go up, you know, GDP probably will go down, et cetera. And that sort of ends up isolating Hong Kong.

But then I guess the genius of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is that it actually reaffirms Hong Kong’s identity and Hong Kong’s sort of distinct—as a distinct political entity in the international system. So then even if the—if our economic privileges have been stripped away, it does not mean that the U.S. would altogether stop treating Hong Kong as a completely liberal part of China. In fact, it does the exact opposite. It continues to treat Hong Kong as separate, but it reorients the U.S. policy on Hong Kong so then it’s just not about economic ties or cultural exchange, as has been the case since 1992 in accordance with the Hong Kong—U.S.-Hong Kong policy act—but that human rights and democracy are front and center, whatever the U.S. does considering Hong Kong. So that’s why that’s very important. And that’s why I urge, you know, members of Congress, senators left and right, to back the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. And that has been our message.

And then very quickly also to the earlier question about how forward-leaning America should be, my answer would be: As forward-leaning as possible. And I think Sunny also made that point earlier in the—tonight, and also at the hearing yesterday. You know, if not the U.S.—really, if you think about the international system as a system of anarchy, it is about, you know, what country and has the power and has the courage to stand up against China. I know many European countries want to do the right thing, but they just don’t have that power to do it. And I think, you know, the EU as a whole, you know, that—they could be strong. You know, if you think of Australia, if you think about Canada, these middle powers, they want to do the right thing. But they’re looking to Washington. They’re looking for American leadership on these issues. And I think if done right, I mean, American foreign policy can be a force of good in the world. And I think—and I want that to happen. And I want that to continue to be the case beyond just this current administration.

We will be meeting with members of this administration for the—for the rest of our trip. You know how scheduling goes, we’re still finalizing this and that. There are always last-minute changes. But we will be meeting with, for sure, representatives from the Department of State. And I look forward to exchanging views with them and letting them know our—we need their support as well, beyond what we have on Capitol Hill. And then, you know, just one last thing. I mean, China always likes to call what happens in Hong Kong an internal matter. You know, if the West speaks up somehow they’re supporting interference. But China has consistently benefited economically from the fact that Hong Kong is a global city, because Hong Kong is a global financial hub, because Hong Kong has been treated as a separate customs territory. That’s how China got rich since the 1970s.

And so if—you know, if the U.S.—if Washington policymakers back off from supporting Hong Kong because they feel that somehow that’s going to give—you know, that’s going to give talking points to the Beijing government that, you know, that’s going to offend China or that’s going to get you into trouble. Well, you know, then you fall exactly into the trap of China, because exactly what they want to do is to scare you against taking any real, concrete actions to support Hong Kong. And the best way to counter that is to back the people of Hong Kong.

STONE: Thank you, Jeffrey.

We’re going to do two very brief answers with moderator’s privilege so we can end our event tonight. How about the question about LGBT movement? Denise, I think that was for you.

HO: Yes. So in this movement we have seen a very strong participation from women, first of all, where I do think that there are two sides of this, where it is a very big empowerment to the young women in Hong Kong, because, you know, we are being treated as equals and you see in the frontlines where there are so many young girls, women, put gear on. I have no idea where they find the courage, but they’re, like, really in the very, very frontlines helping out and extinguishing the tear gas and really being there together. But also, of course—and, you know, you see we have young women here also in the IAD delegation, where they are going into international stages to speak for Hong Kongers.

And at the same time, of course, women are being the targets of attacks, where there have been cases where women, young women, who were arrested, they were sexually abused in the police stations. And several cases of that. Whether it’s verbally or maybe even physically. So that is something that we are struggling with because you see with these thugs, and mobsters, and also the police becoming these very violent force, it’s difficult for the women to counter that because physically we are at a disadvantage in these situations. But then, of course, the society is there in support with the women.

As so on the LGBT side, unfortunately, we don’t really see a lot of LGBTQ communities being—I mean, they are, of course, among the people, but there haven’t been a lot of mobilization of the community. And very recently the pink dot, you probably know it from—we have our version of pink dot in Hong Kong. It has been cancelled because probably we won’t get the permission to hold a gathering at these very sensitive times, where we have many, many, like, several dozens of assemblies and marches being banned by the police. So but at the same time, I feel that there is a very wide support for these LGBTQ issues in Hong Kong, in the younger generations at least, with maybe—you know, with our visibility we, and also—and other pro-democracy activist and singer who has come out in 2012, Anthony Wong, a very good friend of mine. So our participation in this movement, you know, it is telling the people that we are all humans and we have all the same beliefs.

And on the legislative side, it is, of course, very difficult in Hong Kong to see any progress on these issues, because we don’t have the democratic system that we need. So that is why we have focused more on pushing ahead these—the universal suffrage and the political reform. So, you know, that’s the situation. But one happy thing is that we are seeing Taiwan progressing on these issues, where they have had the same-sex marriage bill pass last year, this year? Yeah, very recently. So that is something for the Asian community.

STONE: OK. Thank you.

I think we are so over time I’m wondering, Joseph, if you feel comfortable connecting after the panel and having more discussion? Thank you so much, everyone, for joining us tonight. Can we say thank you to our speakers tonight? (Applause.) I want to say thank you to Alex Bro who is another young leader on our staff for organizing tonight. Thank you so much, Alex. (Applause.) Thank you so much for joining us for this discussion and have a wonderful rest of your evening.


This is an uncorrected transcript.

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